Star of the Show: All of the animals!
Character Strengths: Creativity, Leadership and Honesty.
Allow me to set the scene of the final episode for Season 3 of the Grow Your Mind podcast.
There is an over enthusiastic librarian.
A theft has occurred.
A promise between friends is broken.
A struggle of what to do next ensues.
Making a decision can be incredibly difficult for all of us. Combine that with that uncomfortable feeling of the pull between doing the right thing and loyalty to a friend and it gets even harder. This episode walks kids and adults through a simple trick for making choices that are fair and in line with who you are:
Let your values guide you.
As the lyrics in our latest song ‘Values’ say:
“Decisions can be hard to make.
We get confused about which path to take.
As you got older it gets stronger every day.
Should I do what feels right or what my friends say?”
Just like a compass will help you out of the fog to where you need to be. Knowing and living by your values will direct you when you feel lost and confused. Peer pressure is a normal part of childhood, adolescence and beyond. We hope that our children and students will be confident enough to say no to things that are unsafe, unkind and put them at risk. But we need to do more than hoping and more than saying: these are the rules.
We have been building awareness of listening to your body, repairing conflict peacefully, problem solving and being a reliable friend with previous episodes this season. We felt the listeners were now ready to dive into the world of values. Even as adults we may have little awareness of the use of values or what our true values actually are. Dr Susan David, suggests that it begins with an understanding of the 7 core characteristics of personal values:
- They are freely chosen
- They are ongoing: not fixed like goals
- They guide you rather than constrain you
- They are active, not static
- They foster self-acceptance
- They bring freedom from social comparison
- They bring you closer to your preferred lifestyle
At Grow Your Mind we teach educators how to identify their values by sorting through a long list of value cards. At first they have to separate the cards into most important, important and then not that important to me. We then ask them to get it down to 4. There are a lot of groans and eye rolls when we do this!
Inviting children to think about their own values could be a big ask. How exactly are they meant to know their values? In our student journal we have a page inviting students to imagine the best versions of themselves, how they behave, treat others and act on their rock star days. It’s the start of the process for understanding what our core values really are. We ask, what do you look like and sound like in these situations when you are at your best?
I treat my friends….
I help my family in these ways…
In class I….
If I see a teacher struggling to carry something I….
If I have a disagreement with a friend I…
(etc etc etc)
Upon listening to the chorus of our latest song “Values” where the lyrics are:
“Put your hands in the air, wave them like you care. What do you value, value, tell me what you value at your core? What do you value, value, if you only had to pick 4.”
My 5 year old son asked “What on earth does value mean anyway?”
I answered by saying: “Values are what are important to you, they help you be the person you want to be.”
Blank look from Mr 5 year old.
So I proceed by saying: “You know, they help you make choices that are in line with who you are. So instead of copying someone who is being mean, you might think: oh actually kindness is important to me, and so I am not going to copy them.”
Blank expression continues
Me: “Mmmmm, listen to the song.”
When the song finished we played the corresponding podcast episode: Lost in the Woods. My 5 year old reflected, “I get it, values help you make a choice and then you don’t feel funny in your tummy.”
I cannot help but think that our pretend friend, aka legendary storyteller and researcher, Dr Brené Brown would be proud. Of values, Brown says:
“ Living into our values means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them. We walk our talk—we are clear about what we believe and hold important, and we take care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviors align with those beliefs.”
A great deal of our stress is caused by an incongruence with our values and actions. As Brown says it is not enough to simply state our values, we need to practice them. That funny tummy sensation is usually a sign that something we have done, doesn’t feel right. We hope this episode helps kids learn the skills to make a good choice. We have a flow chart they can practice with after listening to the episode:
Of course we all know it is hard to work out your values and then live by them. That’s why we spotlight 3 specific character strengths this episode that can help you to behave in a way that mirrors your values. They are: creativity, leadership and honesty. The hosts use creativity to help them think of a playful way to make the next right choice that honours their differing values. They call on leadership to strengthen their ability to make the brave choice and they all need honesty to be true to who they really are. Each episode we have put 3 character strengths into action so that kids can start to see how strengths can be used to overcome specific challenges.
Living by our values takes practice, I am still working on it! However, it has been a game changer for me and for our team here at Grow Your Mind. We all start to notice and feel it immediately when we are making choices outside our values, or when we treat each other in ways that feel out of whack with who we are and want to be.
Love is a core value for me. When I am triggered or have conflicting requests for my time via work and home. I come back to this value and ask: what would someone who values love, do right now?
Sometimes love in that choice might mean missing an important event for my children because I am working towards taking time off, or supporting them to pursue a hobby or dream. But love can also mean that I check myself and my tendency to say ‘yes’ to work out of fear of ‘missing an opportunity’ or ‘letting the team down’. It’s a highly valuable moment to work out if the choice I am making is a value aligned one or not and it helps make a difficult decision easier.
As the lyrics in our song ‘Values’ say:
“Next time you gotta make a tricky choice
You’ll have your values and your inner voice”
Lost in the Woods is the final episode of the Season 3 Grow Your Mind Podcast. It has brought us such joy to write, record, edit and share each episode. To find out more about values, character strengths, other podcast episodes and our songs visit us here at www.growyourmind.life