Positive Identity

Help young people bring out their best

The way people feel about themselves can fluctuate with circumstances. Depending on what’s happening,

you may feel confident or unsure, optimistic or pessimistic, in control or not in control. What’s important is

what a person’s identity is like most of the time. People who have a strong, positive sense of self maintain

these qualities even when difficulties arise. They continue to be hopeful and optimistic, and believe they

can make a difference. Positive Identity 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 the more young people have a sense of power, purpose, worth, and promise, the more

likely they are to grow up healthy. Search Institute has identified four assets in the Positive Identity

category that are crucial for helping young people: Personal Power, Self-Esteem, Sense of Purpose, and

Positive View of Personal Future.

Tips for building these assets

Although identity is partially determined by genetics, adults can bring out the best in young people. The

way you interact with young people helps them to feel loved or unloved, liked or disliked. Further, the

ways you respond to successes, mistakes, actions, and words helps build a sense of either a positive or

negative identity. Begin by supporting young people and showing them you care. A young person who

feels loved, supported, and nurtured is more likely to feel good about herself or himself. It’s also important

to help young people feel empowered by allowing them to experience self-reliance, responsibility, and

opportunities to make meaningful contributions. Appreciate each young person for who he or she is.


Also try this

In your home and family: Have each family member answer these questions: What three things do

you like about yourself? Why? Discuss the answers and different ways for each of you to help build

one another’s self-esteem.

In your neighborhood and community: Encourage local media to celebrate young people’s

successes in all kinds of activities—not just sports. When you see, hear, or read good things about a

young person you know, write a note of congratulations to him or her.

In your school or youth program: Have young people create a life-planning portfolio that covers

their experiences from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next school year, and

include goals, dreams, and hopes. They can be an important tool for the student—and for teachers

and program staff—to keep track of accomplishments and challenges.


Click below for more interest on each asset. 

Asset 37: Personal Power (Available 5/10/16)

Asset 38: Self-Esteem (Available 5/17/16)

Asset 39: Sense of Purpose (Available 5/24/16)

Asset 40: Positive View of Personal Future (Available 5/31/16)