How Can I Help Prevent It? / Set the Foundation

Set the Foundation

Did you know?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Teens with authoritative parents* are most likely to be influenced by their parents’ messages.
(*those with a consistently healthy balance of discipline and support )

If you’re like most parents, you probably often wonder what more you could be doing to help set your child up for success. Luckily, there’s been a lot of research done on this topic.

For example, research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has led to the development of a “Family Checkup.” The checkup gives parents 5 key questions to ask themselves to determine if they are using important parenting skills that can help prevent drug use in their children.

Create a Custom Action Plan

In addition, research by the Search Institute has identified 40 skills, experiences, relationships, and behaviors (called developmental assets) that help set the foundation for teens to grow into happy and healthy adults with much to contribute to the world.

  1. Click below to identify the areas where you may be able to help your child build these assets.
  2. Check the boxes that apply to your situation.
  3. Click the “Show me how to take action” button and print out your custom action plan that’s built on the strengths your teen already has.


  • Family life provides high levels of love and support
  • Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents.
  • Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.
  • Young person experiences caring neighbors.
  • School provides a caring, encouraging environment.
  • Parent(s) are actively involved in helping the child succeed in school.


  • Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.
  • Young people are given useful roles in the community.
  • Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week.
  • Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.


  • Family has clear rules and consequences, and monitors the young person’s whereabouts.
  • School provides clear rules and consequences.
  • Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior.
  • Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
  • Young person's best friends model responsible behavior.
  • Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.


  • Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.
  • Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations.
  • Young person spends one hour or more per week in activities in a religious institution.
  • Young person is out with friends "with nothing special to do" two or fewer nights per week.


  • Young person is motivated to do well in school.
  • Young person is actively engaged in learning.
  • Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day.
  • Young person cares about her or his school.
  • Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.


  • Young person places high value on helping other people.
  • Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
  • Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.
  • Young person "tells the truth even when it is not easy."
  • Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
  • Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.


  • Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
  • Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
  • Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.
  • Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
  • Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.


  • Young person feels he or she has control over "things that happen to me."
  • Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
  • Young person reports that "my life has a purpose."
  • Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.


This list is courtesy of the Search Institute. Please read the Institute’s terms of use below.

This list is an educational tool. It is not intended to be nor is it appropriate as a scientific measure of the developmental assets of individuals.

Copyright © 1997, 2007 by Search Institute. All rights reserved. This chart may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial use only. No other use is permitted without prior permission from Search Institute,
615 First Avenue N.E., Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 800-888-7828. See Search Institute's Permission Guidelines and Request Form. The following are registered trademarks of Search Institute: Search Institute®, Developmental Assets® and Healthy Communities • Healthy Youth®.