Inspirational Quotes Teach Us About Life
How to use quotes to engage and motivate children and teens.
Posted Nov 30, 2018
What is an inspirational quote? A great quote provides moments of learning and understanding.
Inspirational quotes by famous and not-so-famous people have an uncanny ability to stop and make us think about ourselves and others in new and different ways. A quote can make us feel differently too—often evoking a smile, a tear, or a heartfelt memory.
In today’s digital world, adults have discovered an intense interest in inspirational quotes and share quotes widely on social media. Why? Because quotes contain deep seeds of meaning.
Often, quotes help us make sense of the social, cultural, and political culture of our times. They inspire us to live up to our ideals, remind us of our humanity, and enrich our understanding of ourselves.
Inspirational quotes are not just for adults. Quotes can also inspire children and teens to become their best selves.
The story of childhood and adolescence is an interior journey of self-discovery and growth. We know that when parents, teachers, and adult mentors stimulate children’s inner worlds, young people become more self-aware. They begin to make sense of the connections between their thoughts, feelings, and sensations. These connections stimulate the brain’s neuroplasticity and are critical to a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive learning.
Children find meaning and purpose in life in many ways. Reading and contemplating an inspirational quote is much like exploring the underlying messages of music or poetry. Children need to experience motivational quotes in the same way children need poetry. Poetry has developmental benefits, including fostering a child’s language skills, creativity, and self-expression.
Inspirational quotes are rich repositories of information where intimate thoughts and feelings can be stimulated. Quotes, like poetry, compress ideas and at the same time expand children’s abilities to ponder and appreciate them.
When we engage children and teens with meaningful quotes, we can help them change themselves and the world around them. Think of quotes as teaching tools—not to tell kids how to live, but to engage them in understanding the why of their lives.
Sharing inspirational quotes with kids is a way to help them think and feel deeply, to find meaning and purpose in ideas that make a difference to themselves and society. Quotes can help children discover their identities and find their own voices; they elicit stories that help kids connect to others.
What Kind of Quotes Resonate With Kids?
If you search the internet, you can find millions of inspirational quotes—quotes about success, learning, wisdom, friendship, and much more. The challenge is to find quotes that resonate with children and teens in ways that engage them at their unique developmental levels.
When quotes are too dense or difficult, children’s appreciation of them is diminished. The best inspirational quotes for children should:
- Illustrate simple, understandable ideas.
- Illuminate common experiences.
- Provoke age-appropriate responses.
- Support the goals of positive youth development.
How Families Can Engage Children With Inspirational Quotes
Some families discuss quotes over a weekly meal; others at a weekly family meeting. The beauty of motivating quotes is that they elicit different meanings for different people, so there are no right and wrong answers at any age.
Conversations about inspirational quotes provide great opportunities for families to practice listening to each other in new ways. Together, families might memorize their favorite quotes and post them in a special place. When daily interactions, challenges, and conversations emerge that call for inspiration, parents and children can reach to their memory banks or a bulletin board for a quote that is applicable to the situation at hand.
How Inspiring Quotes Can Be Used in Classrooms
Many teachers incorporate the use of quotes in their classrooms. Steve Reifman, an elementary school teacher and passionate advocate for using quotes in the classroom said, "I realized that quotes had the power to inspire and to help me in my efforts to build character in children.” He began researching quotes and incorporating them into his morning classroom routine.
“I found that discussing quotes,” he said, “brought out the best in kids, started our day on a positive note, and offered a natural way to teach and learn valuable character traits.”
Some teachers begin the morning with a “quote of the day” and ask students to briefly discuss what the quote means to them and how it is applied in daily life.
Inspirational quotes can be used to stimulate essay writing where students can practice reflectivity and discover meaning in life experiences. What’s surprising is the variety of different essays that can be generated from one stimulating quote!
Where to Find Inspirational Quotes for Kids
There are many good sources for inspirational quotes that resonate with children. Gleaned from research in positive youth development, you can access a series of articles with over 200 quotes for kids that promote healthy development and build positive relationships. Articles highlight abilities like curiosity, resilience, and empathy, and include discussion starters for home and classroom.
Children can discover their own quotes too! Invite them to think about human values, like humor, tolerance, justice, respect, optimism, etc. They can search the Wisdom Archive, a wonderful quote search engine, for quotations that speak to them. A listing can be compiled of quotes with the most meaning, or posters can be created for home or school. Ideas are only limited by a child’s imagination!
There are also excellent books that share inspirational quotes for children, including Steve Reifman’s Changing Kids’ Lives One Quote at a Time and The Ultimate Book of Inspiring Quotes for Kids by Michael Stutman and Kevin Conklin.