Summer is over and so ends our youth series. We thank Tabitha, Gioia’s 18 year old daughter, for reminding us how easy it is to not only take the people that we care about for granted but to sometimes not treat them as well as they deserve. We also thank Annabel, Gioia’s 16 year-old daughter, for revealing her struggles with having unreasonably high academic expectations of herself and being very self-critical. And we also thank her for allowing us to celebrate her natural gratitude.
What struck us most in getting Tabitha and Annabel’s input was how articulate teenagers can be about what they are experiencing. We were reminded that, by this time in their development, their values and strengths are well formulated. They know who they are and what they believe and are quite willing and capable of communicating that to others.
This is true for kids even younger as well. For example, for Rebecca’s birthday in 2016, her nephews Chris and Ian both gave her plates they’d made–drawings they’d done as part of a Make-A-Plate kit (click here if you want to check those out) that they’d sent away and gotten back three weeks later laminated on a plate. Although Chris was only 13, he was already deeply troubled by the vitriol in politics over the last presidential election. His image (the one above) was of the earth going through an hour glass and coming out the other side much worse for wear.
Chris’ younger brother Ian, 10 at the time, drew a yin yang symbol. Those who know Ian would not be surprised by this sophisticated choice. He has always been the most balanced person in the family–calm, solid, and grounded. Social intelligence is also one of his strengths, hence in the place where there would normally be black and white dots, he drew cat heads because he knows that Rebecca loves cats.
It is uncanny how insightful and aware children can be and how their personalities emerge so early and so charmingly. So we close our summer youth series with heartfelt appreciation for these wonderful characters and with a suggestion to think about the children in your life and the strengths and values that they already possess. We include two handouts here–a list of Values and a list of Strengths that you can look over. This about which seem to fit the children in your life. If any of those children are willing and able, you can take them here to the Questionnaire section of the Authentic Happiness Website and have them do the Values in Action survey for children. This will help validate what they and you already suspect.
Rebecca and Gioia
Make cards for some of the children in your life using cut-out magazine images and words that highlight what you think about their strengths and values. Give the cards to them and see how they respond. You can also have them make cards for their family members and friends in appreciation for what they like about those people. Feel free to post any of the cards on our FB page. We’d love to see them!