Growing up my mother had a framed poem hanging in our hallway. At the top of the picture frame it read, “Children Learn What They Live.” The poem was originally written in 1954 by Dorothy Law Nolte (although the final one we know today was completed in 1972) and went on to say the following:
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.
When I hear people speak about bullying or bad behavior I am reminded of this powerful poem. I am also reminded of the families that live by this poem and still have challenging children. We are not perfect. This world is not perfect. We can do all we can and it still may not be enough… but we do all we can anyway. “Early childhood is a time of rapid growth physically, emotionally and socially. Children have so many things to learn as they maneuver the world and practice life skills through interactions with others. The language and behaviors that they witness each day influences the way they function in the world and the way that they treat others.” This statement found in an article by Michigan State University speaks volumes. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
No matter the circumstances we should do our best to model the behavior we wish to see in others. Jesus commands us to be a light to the world. I’ve mentioned before that Craig and I are taking a Disciple class at church. We have talked extensively in our class about being God’s representatives here on earth, about how we are commanded to love one another and to demonstrate the love of our Father for us throughout our daily lives. I feel that this poem is a reminder of that request. We must treat others with encouragement and kindness, showing tolerance and honesty. I hope that even though you may not have a direct impact on another life that you will understand just how important your indirect impact becomes. You influence others with every word out of your mouth, every move of your body, every kind gesture you make. Please remember this when you go about your daily life. Remember the impact you are making and the consequences it has and try to use that influence for the good. You have much more power than you could ever fully understand.
I leave you with this: