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