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Building Strong Community Foundations for Children & Youth

Developed by the South Fraser Valley Regional Child & Youth Committee in partnership with Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives Association

About the 40
Developmental Assets

Asset Building

Asset Building

The Fraser
Region Project



Parents as Asset Builders

What you can do to make a difference in the lives of children and youth


The following information is offered to parents and guardians as ways to enhance their children’s Developmental Assets. Children and youth rely heavily on their parents and guardians to model and teach them behaviors, boundaries and expectations. The following information is provided to inspire parents in finding new and experiential ways to provide their children with the essential components to become healthy, happy and successful adults.



Photo: Mike Cooper, Morguefile


Offer your child endless amounts of support and approval, yet work with them to gradually take on more responsibility and independence.

Talk about problems they have at school. Find ways for them to address the situation. Be directly involved in resolving issues that young children have, but as they get older offer support for them to take action on small matters themselves (such as an argument with a friend or peer).

Tell your children often that you love them. This is especially important for fathers. If you feel uncomfortable expressing your love verbally, practice saying it or seek counseling to assist you to work out the issues that are inhibiting you.


Ask your children questions about their day. Learn about their experiences and show genuine interest about what is going on in their lives. Ask specific questions instead of saying “How was your day?”

Examples: “What was your favorite part of your day today?”, “What did you learn in Math/PE, Social Studies today?”, “How is your friend Susie doing?”

Respect your child’s choice not to speak at certain times. Don’t grill them with questions the minute you see them after school. Many children find the experience of school exhausting and need a rest or a snack before they are ready to open up.


Create good relationships with other families so your children can know and trust other adults in
their lives.


Example: Open the door for those who may have trouble doing so themselves, explain to your children why it is important to do these kind gestures.

Promote the value of helping others who need it, model this behavior to your children, and encourage
them to do the same.


As a family, be involved in community volunteer projects, such as a food bank or homeless shelter.


Make an effort to get to know your neighbours, and encourage your children to get to know the other children in the neighborhood.

Example: Allow your child to have the neighborhood kids play at your house; occasionally plan events.

Get to know the teachers at your child’s school. Show them that you value their support in your child’s life, and that their role is important to you.

Example: Attend parent/teacher nights and other school functions.

Never speak about your child’s teacher in a disapproving way—it will only serve to undermine the teacher. If your child does not understand something a teacher has done, talk it over with your child and the teacher. If you disagree with something the teacher has done, make an appointment to speak with the teacher privately.


Keep your child on a healthy sleeping schedule and make sure they have a nutritious breakfast and healthy food throughout the day.



Be a part of a youth program that promotes empowering youth to have a voice in the community.


Be involved in helping a youth committee or a youth-operated help line.

Attend events in which your children are involved.


Example: Attend special school days, school theatre productions, sporting events or assemblies.

Allow your child to have certain responsibilities in the household.

Example: Let them take care of the family pet(s). 

Talk with your children about their beliefs and thoughts on certain issues. Share your beliefs, thoughts, and opinions on issues. Let them know that their opinions and beliefs are valued and respected.


Encourage your children to get involved with a community volunteer group. Let them decide what group they would like to be involved with and help them get involved.


Be open with your children about a variety of issues. Let them know that they can talk with you about whatever they need to.

Example: Talk openly about issues around alcohol, illegal drug use, sexual activity, violence and other situations that your child may experience as they grow up. 

Have common guidelines for the entire family by which you always aim to treat each other with positive regard.

Examples: Being respectful, caring, encouraging, supportive, non-judgmental, etc.

Prepare your family for emergency situations.


Examples: Have a list of emergency numbers in a common area near a phone. Have a First Aid kit ready and located in a place everyone knows about. Establish safe exits for everyone in the family in case of a fire or earthquake. 

Try to be home as much as possible for your children. Make sure they check in with you when they’re
out and that you know where they are. Set a curfew time by which they need to be home. Explain the importance of communicating where they are and that their safety is very important to you.



Include your children in creating the rules and boundaries in the house. Ensure that everyone is aware of the expectations and the consequences for breaking the house rules. Make sure the consequences are consistent.

Try to value the importance of your children having fun in your home. Allow them to do so, even if it may be a little noisy at times.

If you are having trouble setting and keeping boundaries, do not lower your expectations. Learn from other parents and from parenting experts.

Have all the information about where your child is going before you grant permission for them to go. Be assertive, not overbearing.

Maintain good communication with your partner or the other parent about the rules, and make sure that you are both enforcing consistent messages about what is acceptable and what is not.

Be knowledgeable about the rules of your child’s school. Be supportive of these rules. If there are issues around certain boundaries, discuss them with the teachers/principal.

Always have positive expectations of your children and expect the best from them.


Find creative ways to spend quality time with your children. Avoid spending too much time watching television.


Have a time every week that the whole family spends together: go skating, swimming, for a bike ride, to the museum, play board games, etc. 

Have projects around the house that the whole family can work on.


Examples: Have puzzles in progress that you work on together. Designate a place in your home where you and your children can paint, draw, make crafts, write, or read; encourage them to use this area frequently.

Find out where your children would be interested volunteering and sign them and yourself up to volunteer together.


When buying your child gifts, try to keep in mind the importance of how they spend their time. Try to buy them gifts that engage them in learning or being creative.

Example: Buy board games, musical instruments, or art/craft supplies.

Encourage your children to be involved with their cultural practices. Bring them to events and celebrations that allow them to celebrate their culture and practice its traditions. 


Explore your child’s talents and encourage them to pursue activities they are good at by connecting them with different groups and events. Ensure that these are activities your child enjoys/wants to be doing.


Make your home a place where your children feel comfortable and where they enjoy spending time.

Example: Have a room or an area of the house that is dedicated to your children—a space where they can play and hang out with friends. Give them the responsibility for keeping this area tidy.

Talk about spirituality and religion with your children. Let them choose their own beliefs. Try to minimize imposing beliefs on your children if they insist that they are not comfortable with those beliefs. If they choose to be part of a religious or spiritual group, learn about it and help them understand it.


Have limitations how much television your children watch daily.



Take your children to the library once every few weeks and help them find books that they are interested in reading. Let them decide what books they read.

Talk with your children about current news events; highlight the importance of knowing about current events and being aware of the world.

Have reading time with your children.

Offer assistance with your child’s homework. If you don’t know how to do it, then learn with them.

Have a space in your house where your child can do homework; ideally it should be a space that is not in your child’s room. Set it up so it is away from the television and other distractions.

Talk to your children about their day at school; ask them questions to show that you’re interested.

Remember that each child is different in many ways and will have his/her own unique strengths and talents. It is important not to compare them to one another. Let each of your children know how important they are to you. Competition breeds sibling rivalry—encourage children to compete with themselves to be the best they can be. Always comment
on a child’s effort rather than the finished product so they know it’s the effort that counts.


Talk with your children about your values and why those values are important to you. Be consistent in living by those values.


Allow your children to make sense of the world in their own way. Let them decide what they believe, rather than tell them what they should believe.


Always be honest with your children about everything. Teach them the value of honesty through open conversations about being truthful.


Set up an allowance system. You may decide that the children have to complete a certain amount of chores to earn their allowance—they can choose to do chores and earn their allowance, or do no chores and receive no allowance. Alternatively the allowance could be based on nothing more than being members of the family but chores are expected of all family members. In either case, children should be able to take on additional chores to earn extra money to spend on whatever they choose. This can help create a sense of earning money as well as being responsible for how it is spent.

Example: A good rule of thumb for chores is one household chore per day and one per week: A daily chore might be loading the dishwasher and a weekly chore might be cleaning a bathroom.


As your children get older, be willing to talk with them about difficult topics such as sex, pregnancy, drugs, suicide, illegal activities, and other risky behaviours. Have conversations with your children about these topics and provide them with the comfort of talking with you about these issues when they need to.



Set examples of what are normal and acceptable behaviours and what are not. Talk with them about the importance of saying “no” when they feel pressured to do something that they do not want to do.


Ensure that everyone in the house is involved in creating the household guidelines. Children and parents should be equally involved in this process. Hear the perspectives of everyone before determining what the guidelines will be.


Create opportunities for your children to meet other children. Try to get them involved in hobbies that will involve socializing with other children.


Try to expose your children to many different cultures through travel or at culturally diverse events that happen in your community.


Teach your children how to resolve conflict in a productive manner. Offer them strategies on how to communicate in a constructive way.

Example: Teach children to use “I feel...” statements so they can express how others’ actions affect them without placing those feelings on the other person. “I feel sad and angry when you call me names.”

Teach your children how to be active listeners, and to feel empathy towards others.



Constantly remind your children how much you care for them.


Compliment your child  on good hygiene and tidy appearances. Comment on the effort of tasks well done. 


Allow your child to make their own choices in situations that are not harmful for them, allowing them to learn how their choices affect their lives.

Example: Let children choose the sports teams or after-school art/music classes they sign up for.

Let your children choose how they spend their allowance money.


Allow them to choose outfits for the day or how they want their hair to look.


Respect your child’s personal boundaries. Ensure that they are aware of their right to have these boundaries, and talk to them about what to do if someone tries to exploit them.


Treat your children with respect and dignity in all circumstances.


Example: Establish a code word to be used when your child wants to come home for a reason they don’t want to discuss on the phone—they simply say the code word and you will come to get them.  This preserves their dignity in situations where they feel uncomfortable but might stay just to avoid embarrassment.

Spend time with your children doing activities that interest them. Make sure they know that you enjoy spending time with them and that they are an important part of your life.

Example: Play sports, go bike riding, play board games, go fishing, bake cookies, make crafts, etc.

Offer unconditional love to your child; let them know that you love them regardless of the circumstances. Refrain from conditional love, in which you only show love when they are good . If they misbehave, make sure you separate the child from the behaviour. You love the child, it’s the behaviour you don’t like.


Have discussions with your children about their future goals and aspirations and support them regardless of your own opinions. When they encounter barriers, remain optimistic about them achieving their goals. Help them understand the reality of future aspirations as well: not all artists make a living painting portraits, not all hockey players become famous but there are other ways to measure success.


Include your children in important family tasks; show them that they have an important role in the family.


Let your children know that you are proud of them and that you believe they can accomplish anything they want to in life.


Be optimistic about life in general. When your children are unhappy about something, provide support that ensures them that life has its tough times, but also its great times. 



 Adapted from Pass It On! Ready To Use Handouts for Asset Builders, ©1999 by The Search Institute, and from Helping Kids Succeed—Alaskan Style, ©2004 by Alaska Initiative for Community Engagement