Thursday, August 13, 2009

What children learn from us

Though not explicitly biblical, I ran across this poem for the first time recently, and wanted to share it.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.


If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Excerpted from the book CHILDREN LEARN WHAT THEY LIVE
©1998 by Dorothy Law Nolte and Rachel Harris
The poem "Children Learn What They Live"
©Dorothy Law Nolte
Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., New York
All Rights Reserved


  1. I have to say, I wish it were that easy! To some extent I think this is true. But raising children is not so precise. Sometimes the natures they were born with counteract some of their nurture. Sometimes certain things just don't resonate or "stick" even if you live with them day in and day out through your growing-up years.

    I lived with self-control, but didn't learn it all that well.

    I lived with regularity and routine, and ended up impulsive and only chafed by the idea of calendars and schedules.

    I'm sure there are more examples of how my parents' wonderful example failed me.

    But I do find it interesting to wonder, how we pick up a certain set of values from our parents and not others.

  2. I'll add... I lived completely without any formal religion of any kind, yet gravitated to the Catholic Church like to a magnet.

    I can see that some of the values they raised me with (self-denial, the need for absolute honesty, sacrifice, the need for ritual to celebrate things of importance...) those are here in the Church. So, it is interesting how it works out.

  3. True, the poem does sound a bit "neat and perfect," and none of those results are guaranteed. The last one makes me gag.

    Still, when you observe children, it is easy to see how what they've been taught directly affects their current behavior. Within limits, of course.

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