Children learn what they live

What are you teaching your children? And what is your child learning by imitating your behaviour?

It is not unusual. Parents come into mediation saying they want the best for their children. They don’t want them to experience conflict or to get caught up in the issues. But then the parents spend the mediation meeting arguing and fighting and describing how badly the other has behaved. We can all be guilty of behaving badly from time to time, but the importance of leading by example, and doing our best to remain calm and kind in front of our children, shouldn’t be underestimated.


In the end, children learn what they live – a theme which is so beautifully covered in the following poem by Dorothy Law Nolte, reprinted by kind permission of Workman Publishing Company.


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By Dorothy Law Nolte


 If children live with criticism,
               They learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility,
               They learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule,
               They learn to be shy.

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 to be patient.
If children live with praise,
               They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance,
               They learn to love.
If children live with approval,
               They learn to like themselves.

If children live with honesty,
               They learn truthfulness.

If children live with security,
               They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness,
               They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.


Poem excerpted from the book CHILDREN LEARN WHAT THEY LIVE

Copyright © 1998 by Dorothy Law Nolte and Rachel Harris

The poem “Children Learn What They Live”

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Notle

Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc., New York

All rights reserved.

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So, ask yourself: what are your children learning? If you need some parenting inspiration, take a look at what this Dad is teaching his children: