Sunday, 5 June 2011

Children Live What They Learn - Poem by Dorothy Law Nolte

When I was studying Occupational Therapy at University in the late 1980's, amongst one of our courses we were given a poem that was left as being Anonymous. The Poem was in fact authored by Dorothy Law Nolte in about 1954 or earlier. Mrs Nolte was a writer and family counselor who obtained a Phd. She died in 2005 at the age of 81. Mrs Nolte amongst other tasks wrote a weekly column on family matters for The Torrance Herald, a local newspaper. Story has it that on one particular occasion, she found herself struggling to meet a deadline and needing material. As many creative writers might do, she composed a poem on child-rearing which is the one below that became so well known in so many therapists practices and family homes.

The poem below was circulated mostly as being anonymous for about 2 decades until the author became aware of its popularity and had it copyrighted in the 1970's. A google search showed that it appears to now be in the public domain. Apparently there are a few versions to the poem, this is the version that I was given as a student.

As a tribute to an inspiring Author and Family Counsellor, we share with you the poem

 Children Learn What They Live by Doroth Law Nolte Phd.

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 be 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 tolerance - they learn to be patient.
If children live with encouragement - they learn to be confident.
If children live with praise - they learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance - they learn to love
If children live with fairness - they learn justice.
If children live with security - they learn to have faith.
If children live with sharing - they learn generosity
If children learn with kindness and consideration - they learn respect.
If children live with approval - they learn to like themselves.
If children live with acceptance and friendliness - they learn to find love in the world.

With what is your child living?


If you find yourself needing assistance to develop the kind of environment described in the second half of the poem, you are welcome to contact Shoshanah for a consultation, or for guidance to find an appropriate therapist in your area, so as to provide your child and all children with the type of life that helps them to learn the very best that life and this world have to offer.


  1. what is the message of the peom regarding of social -emotional development of children?

  2. AWESOME - Thanks so much ... I know this poem but needed a refresher and enjoyed visiting your site. Kay

  3. Glad you enjoyed the poem.
    Jane, do you have thoughts of any message of the poem, before I respond?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...