Children Learn What They Live

Children learn what they live is a classic list of principles for parents on how to raise children who are emotionally balanced and confident with a healthy self-esteem. This is the period where the foundation is set for their belief and value system and their image of themselves.

Emotional health is vital for our all round physical health. A positive and confident outlook on life does lead to better health and increase the likelihood to have stable relationships. High self-esteem makes us emotionally and psychologically stronger with an ability to take the knocks on our life’s path and bounce back.

All of us have some talents, but there is nobody who good at everything. Unfortunately our school systems tend to focus on a child’s weaknesses and not build on their strengths. Choosing to concentrate on our strengths is a great confidence boost and something we should not neglect.

Many of the children who end up in an orphanagefoster care or are adopted as young children (not as infants) have had a bad start with criticism and often got put down.

If that has happened to you and you are an adult, you can make the decision to heal your soul and change your perception of yourself. We can all have a good dose of self-esteem, but is does take a decision and some effort. It is always worth the effort.

A good start to begin with is mindfulness meditation to wind down and learn to relax. Follow this with a course in positive affirmation. Confidence and self-esteem are the result of a state of mind, which we can all attain.

If we have children then we have a responsibility in raising them to be balanced, harmonious and with high self-esteem. This is the greatest gift we can give them. A healthy self-esteem is more important to success in adult life than good grades at school. A famous piece describing how to do this was written by Dorothy Nolte in 1972: “Children Learn What They Live.”

This is as relevant today as it was forty years ago.

Effect of Negative Statements

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.

Effect of Positive Affirmations

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 whole world is a nice place in which to live.

It is in your home where your child can live in this way. Where they learn:

  • Respect,
  • Justice,
  • Truthfulness,
  • Generosity,
  • Appreciation,
  • Patience,
  • Love and
  • Confidence


Agape Trust needs support to be able to help young people who have been raised in the orphanage system to adjust to a life outside the institution and lead meaningful lives in their communities.

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