Boundaries and Expectations

Learning the difference between right and wrong

Boundaries are important to young people because they give clear messages about what’s expected. By the

same token, caring adults who expect young people to do their best help them to learn good judgment.

Every day young people face many options and choices. Boundaries and expectations provide young

people with the support they need to choose wisely. Boundaries and Expectations is one of eight asset

categories that make up Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, the qualities, experiences, and

relationships that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.

Here are the facts

Research shows that the more young people have clear, consistent boundaries and high expectations, the

more likely they are to grow up healthy. Search Institute has identified six assets in the Boundaries and

Expectations category that are crucial for helping young people succeed: Family Boundaries, School

Boundaries, Neighborhood Boundaries, Adult Role Models, Positive Peer Influence, and High


Tips for building these assets

Start with your own self-awareness: Are you self-disciplined? What are your expectations for yourself?

What was expected of you when you were young? By considering these questions, you’ll be better prepared

to talk with young people about them. Modeling responsible behavior is important when establishing

boundaries and expectations. Provide clear messages, appropriate consequences, and realistic expectations.


Also try this

In your home and family: Involve your child in family meetings to discuss family rules and what

happens when the boundaries are violated. Compare with boundaries in other places where your

child spends time, and work to provide consistency.

In your neighborhood and community: Practice responsible behavior at all times to help young

people understand why it’s important. Make a point to monitor the behavior of all young people you

come in contact with—not just your own children.

In your school or youth program: Work with young people to set boundaries and rules within your

school or program. Post a written set of rules in visible places: hallways, classrooms, lunchroom, or

a gymnasium.


Click below for more interest on each asset. 

Asset 11: Family Boundaries

Asset 12: School Boundaries

Asset 13: Neighborhood Boundaries

Asset 14: Adult Role Models

Asset 15: Positive Peer Influence

Asset 16: High Expectations