Prevention Plus: Developmental assets — family support

In an ongoing series in this column, we are highlighting one of the individual 40 Developmental Assets that have a powerful positive impact on young people’s growth. The first of these 40 is Family Support.

Research shows that young people are more likely to grow up healthy when their families provide high levels of love and support. Parents can demonstrate their love and support for their children in many ways. Giving hugs and saying “I love you” are obvious. But closely paying attention, listening actively and taking a genuine interest in what your kids are doing are less noticeable and sometimes more impactful ways to offer support.

It seems pretty straightforward and simple, but even well-intentioned parents can sometimes lose sight of the little things that have a huge impact amidst the hustle and bustle of balancing life, work, activities, and responsibilities. Kids notice our actions, they can read our body language and they clearly recognize when we aren’t engaged.

It is especially important in this hyper-connected world that parents put down their own mobile phones or electronic devices and concentrate solely on their children when they are speaking. Take a moment to ask your children about their day — not about how well they did on a test or what homework they have — but simply about something interesting in their day. Make sure they know they are valued for who they are, not what they’ve accomplished.

Be sure to carve out time to spend together as a family. This quality time together is the first and most important step toward establishing a great family support system. Whether it’s seeing a movie together, going on a walk, eating dinner together, or even playing the video game your child loves so much, spending time with your child sends the loudest signal that they are important to you and that you care for them. Parents can’t always be there for their children at every moment in every day (and it wouldn’t be healthy if they were), but providing the love and support and a nurturing home environment that kids can trust and rely on is critical.

The full list of developmental assets is available online at

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