“A clock can only move forward in time until it stops. To start the clock, embrace your values, then the clock continues to move in the only direction it knows, forward.” LK Tommi
This saying is so true: values shape us and our lives forever and ever.
They sit at the very foundations of our identity, silent and strong, as we build around them with experiences. They guide our choices and draw us to interests, hobbies, and other people who share our values. As adults, we generally have a firm but flexible understanding of our values, and making decisions with them becomes almost second nature.
In our teenage years, we’re still working them out.
We’ve grown up aligning ourselves with the values of our families, friends, and social circles to secure a place in a community with a sense of belonging. Then we reach our teenage years and start to explore what we truly value as individuals.
While we’re working this out, we’re also wading through the thick of our teenage identity, emotional changes during puberty, and all the other life pressures and changes in the space between childhood and adulthood.
Teenage values and energy
Every value has an energy attached to it that affects us emotionally and physically. That energy affects your teenager’s motivation, attitude, and behaviour.
When your teenager strongly values something, they’re motivated to take action. They use their energy to protect, pursue, or repeat the experience that holds those strong values. For example, if you have a social teenager, they strongly value their connections with friends and assign the value of joy or love to the experience of socialising.
When your teenager is neutral about something, they tend to go with the flow but put no energy or motivation towards the experience because it holds no value to them. So they don’t assign value to it and disregard it as something not worthwhile.
If you’re raising a teenager, you’re very likely familiar with the effects of them holding no value for something. This can be where the typical ‘difficult teenager’ rears its head in the form of avoidance, anger, defiance, and what seems like a lack of motivation in your child. For example, my teenagers didn’t value my parental advice (surprise, surprise), so they dedicated no energy or emotion towards it and often became defensive.
Been there, done that? Sit tight. I’ll explain what can happen with the right set of valuable tools in your belt.
Teenagers discovering their values
With each value a teenager discovers and connects with, a new piece of their life path lights up to lead their direction. Then, they put effort and energy into following that path, unearthing new values along the way and fuelling their motivation to push on.
If teenagers don’t take the time and space to really dig deep and flesh out what their values are, they continue through life unmotivated and directionless. And because values are so interconnected with our well-being, when they become compromised or misaligned, bad experiences can happen.
Value Activity for Teenagers
We’ve discussed value problems; now, let’s talk about solutions.
Here’s an activity for teenagers to help them discover, define, and align with the things they value.
Take a blank piece of paper and write ‘VALUES’ up the top (or type…because it’s 2022). Write “I value…” then ask them to fill the page with all the things they value. Here are a few to get you started:
Write down some questions for your teenager to answer about what motivates them and makes them happy.
- What do you care about?
- What activities do you like/love doing?
- What are your ‘must-have’ objects in daily life?
- What makes you happy?
- Who do you want to be in life?
- What can your vision do in your life two or five years from now?
The teenage years can be challenging or tricky for them and us. However, it is a fantastic time to embrace life.
My name is LK Tommi – I’m a teacher working in the education and phycology field, and the author of a resilience-based book and journal series supporting children and teenagers to better understand their emotions, thinking, energy, and behaviour, and how it all connects with their everyday life experiences.
In the articles I have written from January, I have been giving you a snapshot of my book, which will be released later this year, The Ultimate Teenage Experience: The Power of Perspective.
This book will a great edition to The Ultimate Experience series, which has two books in the series being:
• The Ultimate Experience: Discovering Me
• The Ultimate Discovery Journal
These can be found on my website at thetommiconnection.com.au/books
The people that know me well will tell you how much I love to chat.
Please connect with me at Facebook and Instagram: The Resilience Tutor