Parenting with the Simple Wisdom of the Developmental Assets Framework

By focusing on children’s developmental needs, you can tap into and build upon the uniqueness of each of your kids; you can give your daughter or son the connection she or he needs to have with you to grow and feel comfortable in the world.
—author and parent Jennifer Griffin-Wiesner

In Your Family: Using Simple Wisdom in Raising Your Children, Jennifer Griffin-Wiesner identifies ways all parents can use the commonsense wisdom found in the framework of Development Assets to build on their children’s strengths, as well as on their own strengths as parents. She writes, “Feelings of doubt may occur as you reflect on your parenting—as well as at other times—but trust your instincts and your heart. Dream along with your kids and help make their dreams come true.

The asset framework can help you stay focused on what’s really important to you in your parenting. Here are reflection questions and ideas to try with your children based on the Developmental Assets (adapted with permission from Your Family):

Tips for . . .

  • all parents
    • Review or discover for the first time the list of 40 Developmental Assets that help all children and youth thrive.
    • If you usually give hugs as a way of affirming your kids and showing them your love, try using words as well. Say “I’m so proud to be your parent because . . .” and give a specific example of what makes you proud of your child. Or, if you have a hard time showing affection, push the envelope a bit and give your kid a squeeze, pat on the shoulder, or giant bear hug.
    • If your child poses a question or request that you don’t immediately know how to answer, let them know you’ll get back to them, and then follow through. Kids can tell if you’re faking or avoiding a response.
    • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Reflection: How often do you do things with your kids rather than for them?
    • Give your children simple, honest answers to their questions. Be sure you understand what’s being asked so you don’t confuse them with too many details.
    • parents with children ages 6 to 9
    • What values do you live by and, therefore, model for your children? Do your values include standing up for others who are being treated disrespectfully, and standing up for yourself when spoken to unkindly?
    • Explore with your children what they’re curious to learn about, rather than just investigating what you’d like them to get excited about. Part of a child’s feeling safe and empowered is knowing that they can try something new without disappointing you.
    • Volunteer in whatever way you can at your children’s school, after-school, or out-of-school activities. Most teachers, administrators, coaches, youth workers, and others are grateful for and encourage parents’ participation.
    • parents with children ages 10 to 15
    • How do you involve your children in setting limits and determining consequences? Do you explain to them why you set the limits you do?
    • Ask your children how they would like the family to celebrate or acknowledge their accomplishments. One idea is to create a celebration space on a bulletin board, shelf, or special table where thank you notes, awards, and other special items serve as reminders of successes.
    • Surround yourself and your family with people who share your values and truly act on those values.
    • parents with children ages 16 to 18
    • Do you talk to your teenagers about how they feel about themselves and what they envision for their future?
  • Think about when to not say anything. Well-timed silence in the form of active listening—rather than lecturing or changing the topic—can help your teens turn their problems into learning experiences.

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