Developmental Asset #39: Sense of Purpose

Young people do well when they believe that their life has a purpose. A sense of purpose looks different for every child, and it cannot be forced – they have to find their purpose on their own. Here are a few things you can do to help them find it.


  1. Give them heroes. They could be real people, living or dead, who have lived productive, admirable lives; they could be idealized characters in literature or film. What matters is that your children see examples of what humans can do and be if they aim high. Fill your bookshelves with stories that feature heroes. Make the people you admire a frequent topic of conversation in your house.


  1. While you’re encouraging your children to aim high with their aspirations, let them know, at the same time, that they’re going to make mistakes, and that no one mistake invalidates their existence or wipes out their dreams. Tell them stories from your own life about when you messed up, and how you learned from it and moved on.


Search Institute has identified 40 building blocks of healthy development, known as Developmental Assets, that help adolescents to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Visit us here every Wednesday to read about different ways that you, your family, and your community can take action to help equip our young people develop resilience and achieve success in life.