teen girl contemplative

Activity for Teens: Identifying Core Values

Summary: When teens identify their core values, they are better equipped to resist peer pressure, avoid burnout, and make choices aligned with what is important to them.

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You’ve met that teen who is super organized and always on time, and is starting college classes at 16?  And the teen who is so much fun and connects so easily to everyone around them?  How about that teen who spends every free moment volunteering at the animal shelter?

Why are people the way they are?  Why do people choose to do different things than other people?  

Ok, that’s a huge question, and I’m not a psychologist, nor do I play one on tv, so I won’t attempt to figure out the entirety of the human psyche!

However, one cool concept I’ve learned about is identifying our core values, and this idea is both simple and powerful for helping you to help the girls in your life align their actions with what’s important to them.

Values are core principles that are always important to us in any situation in life and are an integral part of our authentic selves. Values serve as a guidepost when we have decisions to make. When girls are clear about their values, they won’t be swayed every time the winds of culture or peer pressure blow. They won’t be as tempted to take the easy way out, and also won’t be as driven to hustle to the point of burnout.

Core values are like a compass. We don’t always know what obstacles life will put in our path, what the path will look like, or what our destination will be, but if we have a good compass, we can continue in the same direction towards a general goal.

Psychology Today: 9 Surprising Superpowers of Knowing your Core Values

Activity for Teens: Identifying Core Values

Here’s an easy activity for identifying Core Values.  This can be done in a class, group or one on one at the kitchen table!   

Step 1: Distribute the Core Values List

Distribute the attached Core Values List to the group.  You can either print the black and white PDF, the color PDF or share the JPG in an email or text.  

Step 2: Write down the core values words that resonate

Tell the girls to write down any of the words that jump out to them as something that resonates with how they think of themselves or who they want to be.

You can also have them circle the words on the printed PDF or use the photo editor on their phone to circle the words in the image, but at some point you’ll also want to have them write down the ones they picked out to separate them from the rest.. 

Step 3: Why did you choose those core values?

If this is the only time you have together for this activity, have the girls spend 10 or 15 minutes thinking about why they chose the words they chose.  Does the word describe them?  Do they wish the word described them?  Is the word a trait they admire in another person?  Do they feel like they *should* want that word to describe them, because of pressure from other people?   Ask them to consider how they feel in their bodies when they think about that word. Do they feel light and expansive?  Or tight and constricted?

If you will have another session together, have the girls take the list of the words they chose home with them and contemplate the words for a few days with the questions above. 

Step 4: Share your core values

When you come back together, whether it’s in 10 minutes or the next session together, ask the girls to share their top 3 core values with the group and their reason for choosing those values. 

So they’ve identified their core values…. Now what?  

  • Understanding their core values can help girls accept themselves for who they are, and not give into pressure to try to be someone else.  
  • Understanding their core values can help girls make decisions.  When they are faced with a several options, they’ll be able to consider how some choices may not have a clear objective right answer, but they can make the right choice for them based on their values.
  • Understanding their core values can help girls accept others for who they are by embracing that other people have different core values that drive them to make different choices and that’s ok.  It takes all sorts to make the world go round! 

For more core values activities and information, check out my new Guide to Helping Girls Discover Their Strengths, Live with Purpose, and Use Their Voices Effectively.  You’ll love how it ties all of these concepts together in one place and makes it easy to talk about these ideas with both groups and individual girls.

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