Creating a Values-Based Summer Plan

Written by: Bailey Little, M.Ed.
Creating a Values-Based Summer Plan

One of the tenets of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is identifying your values, or the things that are most important to you, and taking action steps toward living out those values in your everyday life. With the semester coming to a close and summer break quickly approaching, many parents and teens are thinking about how to fill their time during the summer. Creating a summer plan that is centered on your teenager’s values can help make their summer feel rich, full, and meaningful!

So, how do we identify our values? I personally have clients walk through a values card sort activity in which we create cards listing many different values and sort them into piles identifying whether they are “Not very important to me” “Somewhat important to me” or “Very important to me.” Then clients choose their top 5 values from the “very important” pile. You can walk through this activity with your teen by finding a list of values online.

Some values your teen may identify could be things like “adventure” “fun” “family” “creativity” “connection” or “achievement.” Every person has different values in their top 5, and these values can also change over time. Encourage your teen to personalize their values list in order to make it more meaningful. It is also a great time to explore and discuss how your teen’s values list is similar to or differs from their brother or sister’s, or from yours.

Once you have your teen’s top values, you can now work with them to incorporate those values into your summer schedule. For example, if your teen values connection, finding opportunities for them to connect with friends and family will help make their summer feel meaningful. If your teen values creativity, enrolling them in a summer art class will help make their summer rich. If your teen values rest, finding intentional periods of down time during a busy summer will help them feel fulfilled.

Inviting the entire family to build their summer schedule together gives your kids the opportunity to figure out how to incorporate each family member’s unique values for a summer the whole family will enjoy! It is also a great time to remind your kids and teens that not every aspect of a schedule can be built around our values, or to show them how certain activities may connect to their values in ways they may not have recognized at first. For instance, if your teen values fun, a summer job may be connected to that because they can earn money to spend on fun activities!

When we neglect our values, we often feel that something is missing. In summer break planning and in life, living out our values is the best way to live a rich, full, and meaningful life.