According to our survey of the 7th, 9th, and 11th graders, our kids could use a little help from us developing Positive Identity.


The way we feel about ourselves can change with the circumstances we find ourselves in. Depending on what’s happening, we may feel confident or unsure, optimistic or pessimistic, in control or outta control. Good about the amount of snow we’ve gotten or not so good.

What’s important is what our identity is like most of the time. People who have a Positive Identity maintain those helpful qualities even when things are tough. They continue to be hopeful and optimistic, and they believe they can make a difference.


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 thrive: Personal Power, Self-Esteem, Sense of Purpose, and Positive View of Personal Future.

We’ll be exploring more specific ways to build each of these Assets over the next few weeks. So keep an eye on our blog.


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. And the way you respond to their successes, mistakes, actions, and words helps them 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 themself. 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 they are! And let them know!


In your home & 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 & 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.

You Can Make a Difference for Kids!

Adapted from Instant Assets: 52 Short and Simple E-Mails for Sharing the Asset Message. Copyright © 2007 by Search Institute®, 877-240-7251; http://www.search-institute.org. This message may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial uses only (with this copyright line). All rights reserved.

%d bloggers like this: