Overcoming Child Abuse

Reflections on recovery.

Children Learn What They Live

This wise poem inspires good parenting and work with children

December has been a sweet month for my family. Our seventh grandchild, a healthy baby boy, was born this month and my husband, Peter, and I were able to spend over a week helping out his parents as they and his "big brother" welcomed him home. Now back home ourselves, Peter and I spend time looking over the pictures we took and reminiscing about special moments. We have much to be grateful for. All of our grandchildren are getting a good start in life. Their parents are devoted, responsible, and fun.

I suspect that with New Year's Eve only a day away, many of you are reflecting on 2011 and clarifying what you'd like to leave behind as well as what your New Year's resolutions might be. I hope that they'll include specific behaviors chosen for the purpose of increasing the well-being of the children in your life.

Children Learn What They Live is a poem I became aware of as a young mother in the early 70's. I used to keep a copy of it on my refrigerator, refer to it from time to time, let it guide me. In my 20's I believed its messages were true. Now, in my 60's, life experience has proven them so. Here's a copy for you. Read it, let it motivate and teach you; copy it and pass it on:

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Children Learn What They Live
by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

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.
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 world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

 

Catherine McCall is a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the author of Never Tell: A True Story of Overcoming a Terrifying Childhood.

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