Helping Teens Identify Values

by Laurie Dickinson

According to author and philosopher Abraham Edel in his book "Concept of Values in Contemporary Philosophical Value Theory," “... a man’s ‘values’ may refer to all his attitudes for-or-against anything.” Values stem from areas such as religious, cultural and economic beliefs and affect not only individual consciousness, but social consciousness, too. Teenagers learn values long before they are teenagers, and they learn these values from many sources, not just from parents. Parents and other influential adults can help teenagers make value judgments that will help them identify appropriate values and make good value judgments.


Teenagers appreciate honesty from adults. A way to help teenagers identify values is to give them honest information about issues. Parents can accomplish that by letting teens know the benefits of certain values. If you have a personal anecdote that illustrates a particular value you hold dear, share it so your child can learn from your successes or mistakes in value judgments.


Teenagers like to make their own decisions, so it is important for parents to guide them to make right decisions. For example, you're concerned about teaching your teen about alcohol and drugs, you can refer your child to websites such as The website is geared for teenagers. The "Alcohol" page explains how alcohol affects their bodies, which allows them to make an educated choice on whether to use it. When teenagers are part of the value judgment process, the value is more important to them.

Understanding Diversity

Teenagers need to understand that values differ among their peers.

Values are opinions, so they differ among people. Teens need to understand that and to recognize that it is natural. As teens begin to understand the different values of others, it gives them the freedom to assess their own values and to even change their own values, if necessary. It also allows teens to respect and accept the values of others even, if they are different than their own.

Respectful Communication

Respect is key to helping your teens identify values. It is important for teens to feel respected by others, especially their parents. According to the website Advocates for Youth, "Positive communication between parents and their children greatly helps young people to establish individual values and to make healthy decisions." Establishing respectful boundaries when discussing values with your teenagers helps them assess values and adopt those that are important and healthy. These values might conflict with parents' beliefs, so it is important that parents listen and respect what their teenagers are saying in order to help their teenagers identify appropriate values.

About the Author

Based in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., Laurie Dickinson began writing in 1977. Her articles have appeared in the fine-arts magazine "The Phoenix" and various online publications. Dickinson is a certified personal trainer with American Fitness Professionals and Associates. She also holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of North Florida, where she serves as a professor of rhetoric.

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