by Dorothy Law Nolte
If a child lives with criticism
he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility
he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule
he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame
he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement
he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise
he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness
he learns justice.
If a child lives with security
he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship
he learns to find love in the world.
I 'borrowed' this poem out of a page in my personal journal, where I keep snippets of inspiring quotes that have helped me over the years. This poem, above, is one that I hung on my fridge when I was parenting a little toddler boy for the first time in my life. I was struggling with understanding him, meeting his needs, being patient, and learning to lead him instead of react to him.
It was helpful for me to read this poem in the difficult moment of my emotion, when my first reaction might have been to restrict my young son or punish him. It reminded me to focus on the kind of life I wanted to offer him that would build him, rather than tear him down.
How I chose to respond to his behavior and his needs (even if he was acting out) was shaping who he was becoming and how he saw the world and felt about himself. I learned to take a moment to choose to respond with kindness, even when gentle correction was needed. Can't say I was batting 100%, but it helped to set the goal and work toward it. Kindness matters so much and is a tool I choose to use in my own style of parenting.
I share this today with you, dear reader, in hopes it will be encouraging to other parents of young children, who may also need a shoulder to lean on as you are finding your way to raising healthy and happy children. God bless you and keep you, Moms and Dads! Our children need us to put forth our best efforts; they deserve our best. Lean on Christ as he is the one who can heal you, help you, and bring out the best in you, so you can share your best with your children today.