Parenting in any day and age has always presented its challenges. Some child-rearing practices have survived the test of time, including a poem by Dorothy Law Nolte entitled “Children Learn What They Live.” Born in 1924, Dorothy Law Nolte was a writer, educator, and counselor. Her poem, first published in 1954, was adhered to refrigerators, distributed on posters, and dispersed to millions of parents by a baby formula maker.
Dorothy’s instructive poem has been translated into 35 languages. To this, Dorothy said, “I simply wrote it and put it out there, where it has apparently moved through the world on its own momentum.” The entire poem is poignant and useful for parenting, teaching, and any other role involving the well-being of children.
Here are 15 parenting tips extracted from Dorothy’s poem:
1. An environment rampant with criticism will teach a child to condemn.
2. Hostility shows a child that he must fight.
3. A child that lives with fear will learn to be apprehensive.
4. Surrounding your child with an atmosphere of pity will only serve to make them feel sorry for themselves.
5. Don’t ridicule your child—it will promote seclusion from the world.
6. Be mindful of exhibiting jealousy—this shows your child how to be envious.
7. If your child lives with shame, they will learn to feel guilty.
8. If you encourage your child, he will learn how to be confident.
9. Tolerate your child and let them see you tolerating others. This will teach your child patience.
10. Praise your child so they can learn to be appreciative.
11. Accept your child as they are and they will learn to love.
12. Demonstrate approval and your child will learn to like him or herself.
13. Recognize accomplishments—small ones, too. Your child will learn that it is good to have goals.
14. Friendliness will show your child that the world can be a nice place in which to live.
15. A child that lives with sharing will learn how to be a generous person.