Children Learn What They Live is a poem written by Dorothy Law Nolte in 1954. It has become known the world over! The poem reminds us that parents’ greatest influence on their children is the example they set as role models every day. Ms. Nolte states that her hope is that “it serves as a guide and inspiration to parents as they face the most important job of their lives – raising their children”.

We want to take this concept further to remind everyone even coaches, politicians, grandparents, teachers and store clerks, that children are learning from all of our examples every day.

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to live.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

By Dorothy Law Nolte, Doctor of Philosophy
© 1972 to 2000