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10 Life Lessons to Teach Your Child

shutterstock_110601506Recently, I had an interaction with a friend that showed me some areas where we parent quite differently.

The conversation brought to light the fact that, although we parent differently, we both want to raise our kids in the best way possible and we both want to teach our children valuable life lessons.

So here are ten life lessons that I believe our children should learn. Please add your own in the comments below!

  1. Friendships take work. Friendship is a two-way street. Talk with your friends. Invite them to play or hang out. Call, text, or otherwise message them to see how they’re doing. You can’t ignore your friends for months and expect them to be responsive when you need them.
  2. You can’t always get what you want. It might be that you’re not invited to a birthday party that your older sister is, or that only your younger brother gets to go on the fishing trip with your uncle. It may hurt your feelings or make you sad or angry, but remember, there will be parties only you’re invited to and outings that you get to go on.
  3. Comparing yourself to others rarely ends well. There will always be others who are smarter than you, have more friends, better toys, or take nicer vacations than you do, and this will probably be upsetting unless you can recognize that you have wonderful parts of your life. You may have a great sense of humor or a dad who coaches your team or a wonderful grandma who tells great stories.
  4. Find joy wherever you can. This ties into number three above. There are good things in the world. Try to find them. Acknowledge them and appreciate them.
  5. Assume the positive. If you see a kid with your jump rope, try to assume that they didn’t know it was yours. If your mom gets mad at you for something you didn’t do, try to assume that she had a hard day and just made a mistake. Assuming the worst, like the kid stole your jump rope of that your mom is mean and unfair, does no good and just makes you feel bad.
  6. Disappointments will happen, but they don’t have to crush you. When all your friends get a school award and you don’t or you don’t get the choir solo, acknowledge that it hurts. But do your best to move past it. There will be other choir solos and other awards and other joys in life.
  7. Kindness matters. Kindness will take you far in life, because it is the glue that binds humanity together. Befriending the new girl in class, helping your dad carry in the groceries, sticking up for the kid who everyone picks on matters.
  8. Be respectful to everyone. This includes your teachers, your parents, and your friends. When you treat others in a respectful way, they will usually do the same to you. You don’t have to agree or even like someone to use respectful words.
  9. Don’t text, email, or even have a conversation when you’re angry. People say and do careless things when they’re really frustrated or upset. Words cannot be unsaid. Anger is part of life, but it doesn’t have to be destructive. You may feel like punching the wall or screaming at your sister, but just because you feel that way doesn’t mean you have to act on it in a destructive manner.
  10. Be thankful. Gratitude is a huge part of living a happy life. Try and find things to be thankful for everyday. It could be the sun coming out from the clouds in the afternoon or winning a soccer game, or finding a date to homecoming. If you look, you will find many things to be happy about.

There are hundreds of life lessons out there. Share some that you teach your children in the comments below.


photo from Shutterstock

10 Life Lessons to Teach Your Child

Jenise Harmon, MSW, LISW-S

Jenise Harmon, LISW-S, is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Columbus, Ohio. She works with individuals and couples, and specializes in relationship counseling. She's now offering online counseling for residents of Ohio. Stay Connected . Follow her on twitter; and connect with her on Facebook.

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APA Reference
Harmon, J. (2015). 10 Life Lessons to Teach Your Child. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Nov 2015
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