Daily challenges can leave little time for reflecting on the things that matter. The Office of Adolescent Health provides a tool to help parents think about how to support their youth succeed in life. It starts by building teen’s developmental assets. Developmental assets are skills for healthy growth. Assets help young people make positive choices and avoid risky ones.


10 Ways Parents Can Build Developmental Relationships

The Search Institute – a leader on uncovering what youth need to succeed – is another resource. The Institute focuses on studying and strengthening  developmental relationships. Positive relationships help young people succeed. Close connections to caring adults help youth get the skills they need to be successful. The Search Institute lists 5 elements for good relationships:

  • Expressing care,
  • Challenging growth,
  • Providing support,
  • Sharing power, and
  • Expanding possibilities.

These elements can improve the desire to learn and increase personal responsibility in teens.  

Here are 10 ideas adapted from Search Institute that parents can use to build developmental relationships.  

  1. Listen without always giving advice or opinions.
  2. Ask for youth's opinion.  
  3. Admit mistakes and explain how you learn from them.  
  4. Attend parent-teacher conferences and other school events.  
  5. Set clear boundaries and expectations.
  6. Talk to youth the way you want them to talk to you.
  7. Ask other caring adults to spend time with youth.
  8. Ask youth to help with planning a party or other event.
  9. Compliment youth on the good things they do.
  10. Do volunteer work with your adolescent.

For more information about Maternal and Child Health, or information regarding adolescent health in Texas, please contact us at:

Texas Department of State Health Services
Maternal & Child Health
PO Box 149347, Mail Code 1922
Austin, TX 78714-9347
(512) 776-7373: Phone
(512) 458-7658: Fax

External links to other sites are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the Department of State Health Services. These sites may also not be accessible to persons with disabilities. 

Last updated March 27, 2019