Building Strong Adolescents news, programming and other resources from MSU Extension.

Building Strong Adolescents is a MSU Extension authored program for parents and guardians of adolescents ages nine to 16. The program focuses on the external and internal assets teens need to succeed, along with focusing on integrating issues related to the prevention of aggression and violence. Parents will learn methods to incorporate positive growth skills into their adolescents.

Topics include: 

Getting Started With the 40 Developmental Assets

Explore the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets and parenting methods that will help increase the number of Developmental Assets in their teens’ lives.

Setting Limits

Help parents understand why limits are important for teens and provide tools to help create limits that are age appropriate.

Using Consequences & Boundaries

How to respond to teens’ problem behavior that is too serious or persistent to be ignored.  Guidelines for creating and using appropriate consequences to help encourage teens to correct typical problem behaviors and behave responsibly when other methods – such as modeling, providing information, and discussing behavior that haven’t worked.

Fostering Independence

Understanding gradually giving up control over every aspect of teens’ lives and allow them to become independent.  Learn ways to help their teens develop the positive assets they need to manage independence in a responsible manner – including planning skills, making good decisions, and considering the rights and needs of others.

Valuing Education

Increase their teens’ Developmental Assets related to education. Participants can reinforce their teens’ motivation to learn, encourage them to spend time on homework, and help them succeed in the academic and other aspects of school.

Helping Teens Discover Their Self-Worth

Understand the importance of providing love, support, and encouragement in nurturing their teens’ sense of self-worth. It helps participants identify concrete ways to provide teens with caring and supportive family environments that can in turn foster the teens’ healthy sense of self-worth.

Encouraging Positive Friendships

Participants learn to facilitate their teens’ social development by encouraging positive friendships. It will also provide suggestions on how to help their teens develop interpersonal competence in areas such as making friends, resisting destructive peer pressure, and applying positive values and behaviors.

Connecting Teens with Positive, Caring Adults

Strengthen the connections their teens have with positive, caring adults who will help promote the teens’ healthy development.

Talking About Difficult Subjects

 Communicate positively with teens about difficult but critical issues.  Address sexual activity and substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) – issues that are challenging for almost all teens and parents to discuss with each other.

Helping Teens Plan Positive Futures

Learn to advise and support their teens in preparing for their future. Explore the importance of teens’ choices in education, careers, and other areas that can greatly influence their futures.  Share guidelines for helping teens prepare for the future and develop a sense of purpose.


By the end of the program parents and guardians will be educated on methods to surround teens with positive relationships and opportunities that are important for a successful future. Through communication and understanding, parents and caregivers will be able to enhance their family relationships.

"The classes have value for anyone who is willing to actively participate... It is a great resource to be able to offer parents in our community!" - DHS Parent Aide