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  • Yvette Morton

Growing Happy: Helping your teen understand their values for growth and wellbeing

When was the last time you took a good hard look at your personal values? For most of us the answer is usually, “it’s been a while" or “never”!

I love the process of guiding teens and young adults to identify their values. When we recognize the values that are meaningful to us, it can go a long way toward guiding decisions for our happiness, health, and future goals.

What are values? Values can be defined as a person’s core goals or standards that provide meaning and direction in life. Our values are unique to each one of us and they change throughout our lifetime. The reason it is important to take stock of personal values is that our sense of wellbeing is directly tied to whether or not we are living life in-line with our goals and standards.

For example, if trust is a value important to you, but you are making choices that are in violation of other people’s trust, then you are not going to be happy with yourself and this will impact your physical and emotional wellbeing. Knowing that trust is a value that you hold to a high standard can help you choose behaviors that are trustworthy, and lead to greater feelings of contentment.

Taking stock of our values is a simple and enlightening process that we can benefit from when done regularly. As parents, we can facilitate a great conversation by asking our kids “What are three values that are most important to you”? Some examples might include: family, friendship, hard work, happiness, prosperity, kindness, strength, fun, trust, spirituality, accomplishment, helping others, etc.

As you participate in this conversation:

1) Listen with an open mind and with curiosity. Your child’s personal values may be, and probably are, different from your own. It’s important not to judge or condemn, or you can guarantee the conversation won’t go far.

2) Ask them why they chose these as the ones that are most important to them? Use phrases like “that’s really interesting” , or “I love hearing about what is important to you”.

3) Encourage them to consider if they feel that they are making choices that live up to these three values, and whether or not there’s anything that they might do differently to live more in alignment with them?

4) Ask yourself these same questions and consider if you are making life choices that align with your unique goals and standards as well. Many parents have shared with me that this is an eye opening process, often realizing that they were not taking stock of their values when making decisions about their own life.

5) Enjoy this opportunity to develop insight into what your kids think about and find important!

I have a list with over 100 examples of values that I’d be happy to share with you. Please send me an email at if you are interested. You can also sign up for my newsletter at

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