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Building Littles’ Strengths

The time you spend with your Little Brother or Sister is important for both of you. How you spend the time - the activities you choose - will have added value if you are aware of how your activities can contribute to a child’s development.

Big Brothers Big Sisters strives to help children achieve their potential by building strengths or “developmental assets.” Search Institute has identified 20 “internal assets” –attitudes, values and competencies that belong in the head and the heart of every child.

The conversations, activities, and new experiences that Bigs and Littles share together become the building blocks necessary to help the child develop and achieve important assets. The more assets a child has, the greater his or her chance of achieving their full potential.


List of Internal Assets

Commitment to Learning

Positive Values

Social Competencies

Positive Identity

Achievement Motivation

School Engagement


Bonding to School

Reading for Pleasure


Equality and social justice





Planning and decision making

Interpersonal competence

Cultural competence

Resistance skills

Conflict resolution

Personal power

Self esteem

Sense of purpose

Positive view of personal future

Most activities can be categorized as one of the following: games, projects or outings. And in all activities, developmental assets can accrue: the games and projects and outings can inculcate a commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and a positive identity.


Things to do or say

How this builds assets

Additional bonuses


Be patient and attuned to what interests the child. Have fun while modeling fair play and a positive attitude. Put yourself in the child’s shoes when you feel stuck. Don’t let winning or losing spoil the fun.

Skill building games promote learning and achievement motivation. Conversations during games promote positive values and social competencies. As a child’s competency improves, her/his self esteem is boosted.

Let the child teach you new techniques and strategies in the game. Recognize and praise motivation, risk taking, decision- making and expressions of empathy (for the loser) and grace (when winning).


Identify projects that interest both of you, and can evolve to accommodate the child’s skill level. Model persistence and good humor. While you are both busy working on the project you can discuss “harder” topics since you are not necessarily face to face.

Whether the project produces a concrete product or represents an accomplishment, assets such as planning and responsibility are reinforced in the course of moving toward completion.

Celebrate completion of the project through a reward, announcements to friends and family, or by giving the end product (if its tangible) as a gift to a special person or group.


Plan the outing together and find ways to maximize the experience through previewing what will happen, and reviewing it afterwards. Mix “special events” that may cost money with casual everyday outings like a walk in the park.

Exposure to new people, places and ideas builds cultural competence, a sense of purpose, and personal power.

Be sensitive to the child’s attention span and limit the focus of the outing to digestible portions e.g. one good exhibit at the museum; one new half hour cultural event. Collect mementos for a scrap book to add more meaning to the event.

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