Children Learn What they Live



Dorothy Law Nolte

If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.

If a child lives with fear,
he learns to be apprehensive.

If a child lives with pity,
he learns to feel sorry for himself.

If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with jealousy,
he learns what envy is.

If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns to be confident.

If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with praise,
he learns to be appreciative.

If a child lives with acceptance,
he learns to love.

If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with recognition,
he learns that it is good to have a goal.

If a child lives with sharing,
he learns about generosity.

If a child lives with honesty and fairness,
he learns what truth and justice are.

If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith in himself and in those about him.

If a child lives with friendliness,
he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.

If you live with serenity,
your child will live with peace of mind.


In recent days I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Children really are a product of their environment. As the poem says, they reflect what is around them. Children are born without hate or prejudice. They see only the good in those around them. They are trusting and dependent upon the love and goodwill of others. Their attitudes toward life and circumstances are by and large a learned behaviour. Children are mimics. Any mother who has been left red-faced by a well-timed swear word from the mouth of a toddler or young child can attest to this. Children are sponges that absorb what is around them and then reflect that back to the world at large.

The Garden Gnome shared an anecdote with me last night about when he picked up the Tween from school in the afternoon. He said that as he waited in the car, he saw a young fellow leave the school and walk toward him on the footpath. The boy took an envelope from his bag and proceeded to tear it open. The GG realised that it was in fact the boy’s report card. The lad began talking to his friend as he was reading his report card and the GG overheard him say “Wow! I got a D in maths. And an E for behaviour!! How cool is that”? Now I know that at this point you may be laughing as it is a little funny. However, I am concerned that he was PROUD of the fact that he got an E for behaviour. I immediately thought “What is he learning at home”?  I know that if I ever got an E for behaviour on my report card, I’d be dead scared to bring it home to show my parents. I wouldn’t be laughing about it and showing it off to my mates that’s for sure.

And so I started thinking about how children learn what they live. If they are subject to cruelty, they learn to be cruel. If they are ignored, they learn to withdraw into themselves. If they are taught that it is alright to hate another person because of their ethnicity, gender or sexual preference then they will grow up hating those people. If they are taught that it is fine to disrespect those in authority, then they will have little regard for the laws of the land.

In a world that is becoming more dangerous by the day, it is imperative we instill good values in our children. Teach them to be tolerant and compassionate. Teach them to be responsible for their own actions. Teach them that the world does not owe them anything. Teach them to live in harmony with others. Teach them to find the beauty in their world. Teach them to be industrious. And above all teach them to love because without love the world is a bitter place to be.

Have a blessed day 🙂



11 thoughts on “Children Learn What they Live

  1. Love the picture above this great poem. It tells all. My husband is a teacher and sees so much of kids being left to themselves to learn the ins and outs of life instead of being held accountable for doing it the right way themselves.I’m glad there are some great teachers out there who are wonderful role models. On the lighter side – What does E stand for in behavior? Entertaining? haha I doubt it. Its probably something I should know.


    1. I just looked at the description of ‘E’ on the Tween’s report card and it says “Evidence in a student’s work typically demonstrates a very limited knowledge and understanding of concepts, facts and procedures, and application of processes”.
      Actually I can’t find on her report card anywhere for behaviour. Maybe it was written in the teacher’s comments on his lol


  2. There is so much truth here. A simple look outside proves the accuracy of this post. Morals and values are seldom being taught anymore. It’s a scary world and it will take each and every person to turn it around. Otherwise, each generation to come will continue to deteriorate. Children watch us, so it is up to lead them the right way.


  3. what exactly is an ‘E’ in behavior? not excellent?
    The important thing is that children (and everyone) need healthy homes and family and wholesome activities.
    I pray every day for God’s will to become apparent for our children.
    ~ Eric


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