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Children Learn What They Live

I grew up with a wall hanging of a poem by Dorothy Law Nolte in my home. Do you remember it? The first line says, “If a child lives with criticism he learns to condemn.” I’m not sure where my mom got it.

Anyway, it hung right outside our bathroom. I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor outside the bathroom waiting for my older sister to come out. Why did I just sit there waiting? Er, nothing better to do I guess?

Nolte’s words offer some nice insight into the consequences of treating children in a certain way, but I’m not sure it’s totally accurate. For example, it says “If a child lives with ridicule he learns to be shy.” The one main thing I was as a kid was shy. But no one ever ridiculed me, not my family and not friends. I wasn’t bullied or made fun of.

Read the poem below. Did you grow up with criticism, hostility, fear? Are Nolte’s predictions about you right? Are your kids living with encouragement, tolerance, or praise? Find out how that will effect them.

Children Learn What They Live by 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 those about him.

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

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

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