Children Learn What They Live Explanation

Children Learn What They Live is a popular poem that emphasizes the impact of a child’s environment on their development and behavior. It was written by Dorothy Law Nolte, a family counselor and therapist, in the 1950s. The poem is a reminder to parents and caregivers about the importance of creating a nurturing and positive atmosphere for children to thrive in.

Explanation of “Children Learn What They Live”:

The poem explores the idea that children absorb and learn from their surroundings, including the behavior, attitudes, and values of the adults and people around them. It suggests that children are greatly influenced by the way they are treated and the messages they receive from their environment. The poem emphasizes the importance of providing children with love, respect, understanding, and positive experiences, as these factors shape their perception of the world and their behavior.

The poem highlights the following key messages:

1. Children learn to be loving if they are shown love.
2. Children learn to be respectful if they are treated with respect.
3. Children learn to appreciate honesty if they are told the truth.
4. Children learn to have confidence if they are encouraged.
5. Children learn to be secure if they are supported.
6. Children learn to feel valued if they are accepted.
7. Children learn to be fair if they see fairness around them.
8. Children learn to be patient if they experience patience.
9. Children learn to be kind if they are shown kindness.
10. Children learn to be compassionate if they receive compassion.

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These lessons are not only taught through direct instruction but are also absorbed through observation and experience. The poem serves as a reminder to parents, caretakers, and educators that the environment they create for children greatly influences their development and behavior.


1. Is the poem suggesting that parents are solely responsible for a child’s behavior and development?

No, the poem emphasizes the influence of the child’s environment as a whole, including parents, caregivers, and other significant people in their life. It suggests that all individuals who interact with the child play a part in shaping their behavior and values.

2. Can a child’s environment completely determine their behavior?

While a child’s environment can significantly influence their behavior, it is important to recognize that children are also individuals with their own unique traits and characteristics. Nature and genetics also play a role in shaping a child’s behavior and development.

3. What can parents and caregivers do to create a positive environment for children?

Parents and caregivers can create a positive environment for children by showing love, respect, and understanding. They can provide consistent and clear boundaries, encourage open communication, and promote positive values and attitudes. Additionally, providing opportunities for learning, exploration, and positive experiences can further support a child’s development.

4. Can the lessons taught in the poem be applied to children of all ages?

Yes, the lessons taught in the poem are applicable to children of all ages. However, the way these lessons are taught and reinforced may vary depending on the child’s age and developmental stage. It is important to adapt and tailor the approach to meet the specific needs of each child.

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