You are what you believe
Values shape young people’s relationships, behaviors, choices, and sense of who they are. Although
positive values help young people avoid risky behavior, they also help guide their day-to-day actions and
interactions. Thus, values inspire, not just prohibit. Young people who have positive values are more likely
to listen to their conscience, help others, be independent, tell right from wrong, and feel happy. Ultimately,
positive values help young people make their own decisions rather than imitate friends or follow trends.
Positive Values 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
Here are the facts
Research shows the more young people develop positive values that guide their behavior, the more likely
they are to grow up healthy. Search Institute has identified six assets in the Positive Values category that
are crucial for helping young people succeed: Caring, Equality and Social Justice, Integrity, Honesty,
Responsibility, and Restraint.
Tips for building these assets
Clarifying values is critical as young people explore who they are and who they want to be. You can’t
choose young people’s values for them, but you can help shape the values they choose by talking about and
modeling values important to you. Present young people with consistent messages about the values you
wish to instill.
Also try this
In your home and family: Make a list of the 10 values most important to you and your family. Find
ways to help your child understand, demonstrate, and internalize these values.
In your neighborhood and community: Young people learn by observing the adults around them.
Think about how you act. Actions reveal true values, so strive to model the behavior you want young
people to imitate.
In your school or youth program: Create a list of shared values with students or group members.
Talk about what it takes to uphold these values.