Positive Values: An Introduction

How do you raise a child with character? By teaching positive values. Values are like an integrated compass--they help point the way to thinking and acting appropriately. Search Institute has identified six positive values that are central to healthy development: caring, equality and social justice, integrity, honesty, responsibility, and restraint.

Did You Know?

  • The most common positive value young people (ages 12 to 18) report having is integrity (68 percent of young people report having this value). The percentages of young people who report having the five other positive values are: honesty (66 percent), responsibility (63 percent), equality and social justice (52 percent), caring (50 percent), and restraint (45 percent).3
  • Girls are much more likely to report having positive values than boys. For example, 59 percent of girls report having the value of caring, compared to only 40 percent of boys. Seventy-five percent of girls report having integrity compared to only 59 percent of boys.1
  • Researchers have discovered that the six positive values are associated with higher levels of positive behavior, better problem-solving skills, better critical-thinking skills, increased conflict-resolution skills, decreased likelihood of having premature sexual intercourse, having fewer friends who make bad choices, great competence, and higher grades and test scores.2

When we teach kids to help another person, that’s a positive value. When kids stand up for another child, even though it’s a hard thing to do, that’s also a positive value. Once you've laid the foundation, kids will continue to learn about and build positive values for years to come.

1. Developmental Assets: A Profile of Your Youth (Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute, 2005), 2003 weighted aggregate dataset, unpublished report.

2. Peter Scales and Nancy Leffert, Developmental Assets: A Synthesis of the Scientific Research on Adolescent Development (Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute, 2004).




Intertesting research; I agree with the findings. The adults in a child’s life are the role models and when they are: helpful to another person, kind to one who is different in some way, respectful to teachers, workers, others, the children learn to do likewise. For an article that may be of interest, “Twenty Ways to Foster Values in Children,” click below:


I agree with what has been shared but what can be done about addressing morals when it comes to personal behavior. Middle schools in my area are battling teen sexuality issues. Students are requestng to go to the restroom and actually meeting other students to engage in sexual intercourse. Parents and administrators are at a loss. What can we say to cause the teens to think about this type of behavior?

I have twins they are 14 years old . They always talk to the kid who is sitting alone .They talk about the persons good quality’s .They both are considerate of others even though they seem to want little to do with me and their dad .They have no prejudice ,Thee y will buy things for those who do not have the means . I have noticed that they are humanitarian nature .They are extremely intelligent .They only seem to have trouble with bully’s .I have explained the nature of bully’s ,and the fact that they are insecure in themselves ,and tend to take offense to those who are doing well .Even though my kids can have a positive outlook of others they take every bad comment about them as fact .I explained they should look at the reason the other teen may be so put off by their ability out of insecurity and jealousy . I am hoping that the seeds I have planted with my twins is going to be enough for them to deal with those who tend to put them down .