Raising Healthy Kids: An Asset-Based Check-in For Parents


The everyday challenges parents face can leave little time for reflecting on the things that actually matter most. The tool presented here gives you a chance to think about how you are already helping your adolescents succeed in life through the ways you build their developmental assets. Developmental assets are building blocks of healthy growth that help adolescents make positive choices and avoid risky ones.

This check-in tool focuses on 12 of the assets that parents can most influence. The tool is intended to assist you in identifying specific topic areas to focus on for discussion with your adolescent. You also will learn about other ways you can build strengths in your family and in your adolescent's life.

This tool is most appropriate for parents with adolescents ages 10 to 19 years. If your adolescents are older or younger, some of the questions will be less relevant for you.

Background on the Developmental Assets

This check-in is based on the 40 developmental assets identified by Search Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization that focuses on young people's healthy development. The 40 assets are rooted in extensive research, including surveys of more than 3 million students in grades 6 through 12 in the United States. In general, for young people from all backgrounds, the more assets they experience, the less likely they are to engage in high-risk behaviors (such as sexual intercourse or drug use) and the more likely they are to thrive (do well in school and care for their health).

Your Check-In

The check-in will take only a few minutes (3 short pages). To get your results, you'll need to answer all the questions on each page before going to the next page.

The information you enter will be anonymous and is not stored. No one else will see how you respond. The answers are only designed to help you learn more about how you can support your adolescent in growing up healthy.

For each question, indicate how certain you are that each is true for one of your adolescents. If you have more than one adolescent, focus first on one of them, then go through the check-in again for the others.

Be honest with yourself. Remember that even the best parents have days when they're not on top of their game, and most parents, no matter how responsible and loving, do better in some areas with their adolescents and not as well in others. The more honest you are with yourself, the more you will learn.

A. Some Things You Might Do For Your Adolescent

You're on page 1 of 3

Please complete all the questions for one adolescent at a time. You can go back and complete the questions for additional adolescents once you are through.

How true is each of the following for you and this adolescent?
Very True Mostly True Somewhat True Not Really True
1. I often say things like “I love you” or “I'm proud of you” to him or her.
2. I often talk with this adolescent about things that really matter to him or her.
3. I often talk with him or her about schoolwork.
4. I often go to meetings or events at this adolescent's school.
5. I almost always ask where he or she is going and who he or she will be with.
6. I model positive values, such as volunteering, being honest, and taking responsibility for what I do.
7. I model a healthy lifestyle by taking care of my health and avoiding abuse of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
8. I push this adolescent to be the best he or she can be.

B. Some Things Your Adolescent Might Experience At Home

You're on page 2 of 3

Remember: These questions still focus on the teenager you have been thinking about. Please complete all of the questions for one teenager at a time.

How certain are you that . . .
Very Certain Mostly Certain Somewhat Certain Not Really Certain
1. He or she knows that everyone in our family loves and supports him or her.
2. He or she would talk to me if he or she had questions about an important issue such as sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or bullying.
3. He or she feels useful and important in our family.
4. In a typical week, he or she does chores or has other responsibilities that are important for our family.
5. He or she is never afraid of getting hurt by someone in our home.
6. In our family, there are clear rules about what he or she can and cannot do.
7. He or she knows that I expect a lot of him or her in school.
8. In a typical week, he or she spends most evenings at home with our family.
9. On a typical day, our family eats at least one meal together.

C. Some Things Your Adolescent Might Experience Away From Home

You're on the last page of the check-in

These questions still focus on the adolescent you have been thinking about.

How certain are you that . . .
Very Certain Mostly Certain Somewhat Certain Not Really Certain
1. He or she knows at least three adults outside of our immediate family well enough to go to for advice, encouragement, or support.
2. He or she regularly has good conversations with several caring, responsible adults outside of our immediate family.
3. In a typical week, he or she spends some time informally helping friends, neighbors, or other people without getting paid.
4. In a typical week, he or she volunteers through a school, religious institution, or other organization to make the school, neighborhood, or community a better place to live.
5. He or she is never afraid of spending time outside in our neighborhood.
6. His or her best friends avoid high-risk behaviors, such as using alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs; bullying; or being prematurely sexually active.
7. His or her best friends model positive values, such as volunteering and doing well in school.

You've finished all the questions. CLICK HERE to get your results and ideas for ways you can strengthen communication with your adolescent and help your adolescent.

Your Results

Your check-in results show your level of confidence that your adolescent is experiencing the developmental assets that you particularly influence as a parent

These results offer an opportunity to reflect on some of the important ways you help your adolescent grow up successfully.

Overall, your confidence is ??? about your adolescent's experiences of these 12 developmental assets.

Overall Sum Score:

  • High Confidence ≥ 60
  • Medium Confidence 36 - 59
  • Low Confidence ≤ 11 - 35

Here is where you have the most and least confidence.

You have
HIGH CONFIDENCE about these assets

You have
MEDIUM CONFIDENCE about these assets

You have
LOW CONFIDENCE about these assets

Talk With Your Adolescent

Here are some ideas to help you talk with your adolescent about these assets. Not all questions or ideas may fit your family. Pick the ones that do.

As you talk with your adolescent, don't just ask the questions, but tell your own stories and share your own perspectives too. Try to make it a two-way conversation, not an interview.


  • Tell about a time when you felt particularly close to our family or to someone in our family? What was it about those times that meant a lot to you?
  • What are some ways you like us to show you that we really love and care about you? What are ways you don't like as much?


  • What are some of the best conversations we've had together as a family? What made them so good?
  • What gets in the way of talking about things that are important to us?


  • Who are some adults outside of our family who you really enjoy seeing? What is it about them that you like?
  • What is one of the most important things you've learned from an adult outside of our family? Who did you learn it from?


  • In what ways would you like me to be involved with your school? How can I most help you learn?
  • What kinds of things would you like to see happen to make your school a better place? How might I encourage school leaders to look into that issue?


  • What are things you really like doing to help out in our family? How can we make sure you have chances to do those things?
  • Imagine that a member of the family was going to be gone for a month. What wouldn't get done in the family that we depend on this person to do?


  • What is something happening in our community that we really care about? What might we do to help with the issue together?
  • What makes it easier to volunteer or serve others? When is it hard?
  • How does helping others help you as a person? Give examples from your experience.


  • What are the places in our neighborhood where you feel most safe? What are places when you feel afraid? What might we do to make those places feel safer?
  • What can we do in our family to ensure that you always feel safe and secure when you're at home?


  • How does our family compare to others regarding discipline or setting boundaries? From your perspective, in what ways might our family be too lenient, too harsh, or just right in setting and enforcing rules? Why?
  • What rules do you think are the clearest in our family—where you know exactly what to expect? Are there areas where it feels unclear or inconsistent? How might we deal with those?


  • What are some things I do as a parent that you respect? In what areas do I sometimes let you down?
  • Who are adults you look up to? (They can be adults you know personally or adults you know about from the media.) What is it that they say or do that you most admire?
  • What have you learned from adults you respect that has helped or inspired you?


  • Think about your two or three best friends. What are you learning from them? What do you enjoy about them? In what ways do you think they influence you?
  • How do you feel when you're with your friends? In what ways do they bring out the best in you? In what ways do you bring out the best in them?
  • What have you done (or would you do) if your friends pushed you to do things you don't want to do? How might you respond?


  • If friends asked you what your parents expect of you at home and at school, what would you tell them? Are there some expectations that seem too basic or that seem too tough?
  • Imagine what it would be like to live in a family where no one expected anything of you. What do you think that would be like? What might be nice about it? What might be hard?


  • What are things that you most enjoy doing together as a family? What are things we do that you don't really enjoy? What other things could we do to be sure we're enjoying spending the time we have together?
  • As you think about the family schedule, are you satisfied with the alone time, family time, and other ways you spend your time. Are there things we can do to make the best use of the time we have together?

Ideas For Action

Here are some ideas for things you can do to strengthen these assets. Not all the ideas will fit with your family. Pick the ones that do.


  • Loving, appropriate touch means a lot, particularly when you know your adolescent appreciates it. Offer a hug. Put your arm around him or her. Comb his or her hair.
  • Use loving words when you talk with your adolescent. Try: “I care about you.” “I love you.” “I think you're terrific.”
  • Thank your adolescent when he or she does something that makes you feel loved and cared for.


  • Find time each day to check in with your adolescents. It could be at a meal, near bedtime, or just after they come home from school. It may be awkward at first, but over time, they will likely look forward to it.
  • Take advantage of the times when your adolescent may want to talk—even if you're busy with something else. Stop what you're doing and listen.
  • Give adolescents your undivided attention when they want to talk with you. Put away the cell phone. When you're distracted, young people figure other things are more important.


  • Play games with other families where teams consist of adults of one family paired with children from another family. Use it as a way for people to get to know each other.
  • When you get together with your adult friends, sometimes include the young people, making sure they are part of the conversation.


  • If your adolescent has classes that you don't fully understand, ask him or her to explain the subject to you. You'll learn a lot from each other.
  • Go together to a museum, art gallery, concert, or other cultural place that relates to your adolescent's classes or interests in school. On the way to and from the event, talk about the connections to what is going on at school.
  • Make attending school events a priority. Keep track of them on a family calendar.


  • Use home projects as learning projects. Build a birdhouse with an adolescent who's interested in wildlife. Fix a bike with a mechanically oriented teen. Ensure the young people in your life play useful roles in the projects.
  • Have a family meeting and get everyone's ideas on accomplishing household tasks or goals. Share the decisions, then share the work.
  • Create a family to-do list that shows who is responsible for what in the family. If the list is not balanced and some family members don't have ways to contribute regularly, think about how you can shift or share responsibilities.


  • Together, help a neighbor. Maybe an elderly neighbor would appreciate your mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, or running errands from time to time.
  • Together, think of 10 ways your family could serve others. Choose one idea. Pick a date to do the activity. Afterward, talk about your experience.
  • Support or encourage your adolescent's school, youth organization, or religious institution to sponsor service activities and projects. If they're looking for adult volunteers, offer to help.


  • Be an “askable” parent, so adolescents learn they can tell you about things that concern them, especially personal safety issues.
  • Do a safety check of your home. Do you have a working fire extinguisher on each floor? Do you have working smoke detectors? Are there parts of your home that might need repair to prevent someone from being injured?
  • If you have any concerns that someone is making your adolescent feel unsafe for any reason, talk with a professional who can help you assess the situation and take appropriate action.


  • Observe the boundaries of other families (neighbors, friends, television families). Discuss what's appropriate and what's not for your family and why.
  • When setting and enforcing boundaries, do not ridicule or threaten adolescents. Do not manipulate them with shame, humiliation, or guilt.
  • Adjust boundaries as your adolescent becomes older and shows more responsibility.


  • Think about this statement: In the end, your adolescent will grow up to be a lot like you. If that were the case, what would you be most pleased about? What would you wish would be different? How can you begin changing that now so your adolescent sees you working on it?
  • Don't try to be a perfect role model. Rather, do what you can to demonstrate positive behavior. When you make mistakes, admit them. Apologize for the times you let your adolescents down.


  • Help your adolescent's friends feel welcome in your home. Make your home a friendly place by having refreshments they enjoy and places where they can comfortably hang out. Let their parents know when they are at your home.
  • Talk with adolescents about their friends. Ask questions to find out what they're like. Let teens know when you think they have a good friend. Don't jump to conclusions based on what friends look like.
  • Avoid criticizing friendships that seem negative to you. But be honest when you're concerned about a relationship. Only intervene if you see your adolescent's safety at risk. Otherwise, help your adolescent learn to sort out what kinds of relationships are most healthy and supportive, and which ones aren't.


  • From time to time, think about your expectations for your adolescent. Does he or she understand them? Are there things he or she thinks you expect that you don't really expect? Or do you expect things he or she isn't clear about?
  • Talk with other parents about their expectations for their young people. How do they handle the balance of not pushing too hard while also challenging their adolescents? How do they keep expectations high while avoiding stressing out their teens?


  • Choose an activity that the family can do for fun at home one evening each week. Play cards. Watch a funny movie. Camp inside. Read comics together. Play a sport that everyone enjoys. Cook dinner together.
  • Every week, have a family meeting to look at the calendar and coordinate times when everyone will commit to being home together.

Last updated: September 20, 2016