29 Life Lessons for Kids Every Parent Should Share With Them

Published January 10, 2022
mother and daughter cooking together

Raising humans is the most demanding job on the planet. Being a parent is the ultimate responsibility, and as parents, we have the task of instilling values and morals in our children. Provide your kids with priceless lessons about life that they can carry with them for all their days. The following life lessons for kids are a great starting point to enlighten young minds and to encourage the development of amazing people.

Be Honest

"Honesty is the best policy," is a key lesson to teach children. If kids fall into a habit of fibbing, they run the risk of incorporating the unfortunate quality into their life. If you want your children to grow into honest individuals, then be sure to model the trait yourself. Speak the truth, model the truth, reward the truth, and be upfront with your kids, even when the topics are tough ones to broach.

Use Good Manners and Be Polite

Be sure to prioritize manners and politeness in your home. Kids should know the basics of polite interactions and the importance of fundamental manners. Using manners and having a courteous disposition will serve them quite well, not only in their childhood, but also in their adult life.

Winning Isn't Everything

Winning the big game feels great, but being in the top spot isn't everything. Teach kids that while playing competitive sports is a blast, the fun is in playing, being a part of a team, and making lifelong friendships and connections, not winning at all costs. There is far more to life than being on the winning team, so use the many losses your kids endure to instill this value in them.

Take Responsibility for Your Actions

Kids should learn to take responsibility for their actions early on. Responsibility can be instilled in kids in various ways. Some common methods of teaching children responsibility are:

  • Create chores for children to complete.
  • Allow kids to be responsible for something outside of themselves (for example, plants, pets, or for older children - siblings).
  • Have kids clean up their own messes.
  • Hold kids accountable for their actions.

All Actions Have Consequences

All actions have consequences. Good actions often yield positive outcomes, and poor actions will result in negative consequences. Children need to understand that no matter their choice in action, a consequence of some sort is bound to follow. If they choose to exhibit good actions in their life, they can expect positive outcomes. If they engage in negative actions, then negative consequences will probably befall them.

Manage Time Wisely

Teach your children how to manage their time wisely so they can handle whatever comes their way when they are grown. All adults have to multitask to some degree. They must get to appointments and engagements on time and prioritize. These adulting tasks don't just magically happen. They are taught in childhood. Parents should help kids manage time wisely by encouraging kids to prioritize. Be sure to:

  • Create rules about work and play. Homework and chores always come before fun and leisure.
  • Help kids understand the concept of time. Put schedules and routines in place during the morning, follow a bedtime routine, and create preparedness routines for sports activities.
  • Model time management with your own actions. Verbalize your routine and philosophy regarding time management for your children to emulate.

Never Cease Learning

Humans never stop learning, and so much learning happens long after kids leave the classroom behind. Show your kids that learning is for life. Allow them to see you seeking answers to questions and learning new skills as an adult, and encourage them to do the same. Try learning new things together. Sign up for a pottery or a specialized cooking class or become gardeners together. Emphasize with kids that it doesn't matter what type of learning they engage in, as long as they always pursue answers and skills.

Hard Work Pays Off

young girl watering plants in garden

Laziness won't do kids any good once the real world gets ahold of them. Teach them a strong work ethic while they are still in your care. Hard work will always pay off in the long run, and kids should know that it is worth putting great effort into the things that matter to them. It is also essential to teach children that hard work does not always produce instant results. Sometimes you have to work at something for a long time to see the payoff.

Respect Other People

It isn't called the Golden Rule for nothing: treat others as you would like to be treated. Make people feel valued and listen to them. You don't have to agree with everyone's opinions; in fact, kids shouldn't be taught to simply fall in line. They should be encouraged to think for themselves. That said, when opinions differ, you still have to show respect for other peoples' perspectives.

It's Okay to Make Mistakes

Mistakes are there for the making, kids! No one goes through life mistake-free, and children shouldn't be taught to dread or fear mistakes. As humans, we learn from our mistakes and grow from missteps made. Teach kids to try things and not become discouraged by mistakes. They are merely learning opportunities, and learning is a beautiful thing.

Have a Positive Outlook

You can live positively, or you can live negatively. The choice is yours. You want your kids to choose to view the world positively. It costs you nothing to look on the bright side and remain hopeful, even in the murkiest of circumstances. When things don't go your child's way, help them see a silver lining, because even the negatives in life can be turned into positives when you have the correct frame of mind.

Treat Your Body Like a Temple

You only get one body, so treat it like a temple. It is never too early to start teaching children that they don't have much without their health. Help them learn how to practice self-care. Instill healthy eating and exercise habits in the home, and help kids understand that while staying up late might sound like a lot of fun, getting adequate sleep is incredibly important to remain healthy.

Know When to Apologize... and Do It

It can be hard to say you are sorry, but it is crucial to apologize when necessary. Don't just demand kids say they are sorry and then drop the situation. Explain why saying sorry is important, and that it makes others feel better, as well as ourselves. In your parenting practice, be sure to apologize to your family when you are clearly in the wrong. No one is perfect, everyone messes up, apologies are necessary, and so are forgiveness and grace.

You Can Only Control Your Own Actions

Oftentimes, kids will try to control the actions of others, looking for a specific desired outcome. These efforts usually prove fruitless, because you cannot control other peoples' actions. Teach children that they can only control their own actions and make decisions for themselves. It is never their responsibility to make choices for others, nor is it their task to control the actions of others.

Live Authentically

Kids will grow into whoever it is they are meant to be, so encourage them to do just that and teach them to be their most authentic self. Embrace their interests, their hopes and dreams, and support them as they figure out who they are. Growing up and finding your authentic self can be tricky, but as parents, we can do our best to support kids on this journey. Teach youth to embrace all that is uniquely them and be proud of who they are, because we sure are!

Disappointment Is a Part of Life

Kids should know that while life is packed with so many ups, downs also exist. Disappointment is a part of life, and parents should teach kids this, not shield them from all woes. While no one wants to see their child disappointed, many important lessons lie within the element of working through disappointment. Be sure to acknowledge children's feelings regarding their sadness, brainstorm ways to move through it, and praise them for maturely handling their disappointment.

Appreciate the Little Things

toddler boy observing snail

It's easy to savor the grander aspects of life, but teaching children to appreciate the little things is a useful and important lesson. Reflect on small victories, discover the hidden beauty all around, and help kids feel appreciative of all that they have instead of envious of what they do not. Kids who learn to appreciate the small things might grow up to have an inherent sense of peace and well-being. It's easy to feel happy when you recognize that so much wonderfulness surrounds you!

Listen More, Speak Less

Teach children to listen, really listen. Being a good listener will make kids better friends and partners to those they love, and listening skills are something kids as young as preschool age can begin to hone. While their verbal opinions and views are still welcome in dialogues, be sure that you are helping them also learn how to be still, listen to other people, consider other opinions, refrain from outward judgment, and support the thoughts of other people.

Resolve Conflict Peacefully

Conflict happens in families and friendships all the time. You cannot avoid it, nor can your children. What you CAN do is teach kids how to resolve conflict peacefully. To help kids learn this life lesson, be sure to:

  • Openly discuss the feelings of both parties.
  • Brainstorm several ways of working through a particular conflict.
  • Model and practice empathy in your home.

Learn to Pivot

If kids are going to make it in life, they have to know how to pivot! Life is nothing if not unpredictable, and curveballs will come at us left and right for all the days of our lives. While structure and routine are essential to a child's development, so is flexibility. Show and teach kids that sometimes life gives us things we hadn't anticipated or counted on, and we must be able to switch gears, find different paths and search for new ways to succeed.

You Can't Please Everyone

Trying to please everyone else in your life will exhaust you. Teach kids that you cannot make everyone happy all of the time. Sure, they should keep loved ones' happiness at the forefront of their hearts and minds, but as they grow, remember that trying to please too many people will drain the life out of the most selfless human being.

Material Items Won't Make You Happy in the Long Run

An excellent life lesson for kids is that things don't make us happy. Show and teach them that true happiness comes from within. It stems from the wonderful people in your life, the love in your heart, and the experiences that you gather over time.

Things can't do this. Things cannot make people internally joyous. Be sure to emphasize quality time with family over expensive, fancy objects.

  • Take family trips.
  • Enjoy family bonding nights.
  • Make time for the family before making time for others.
  • Give your kids the gift of experiences over trivial items.

Ask for Help When You Need It

Don't let your children grow up thinking that reaching out for help is a sign of weakness. It is most definitely NOT a sign of weakness. In fact, it is quite the opposite. A valuable life lesson for children is that if they ever need help, it is there for them, and they should seek it out. There is no shame in the mental health game. Be sure they know that they can come to you with anything, and no matter the issue, you will be there to help them work through it.

Surround Yourself With Good People

two girls laughing in hammock

Quality friends are worth their weight in gold, and this is a lesson kids can and should learn early on. Sure, your kids will choose to befriend a few pals who you could live without, but if you teach kids the lesson of surrounding oneself with good people only, they will make better choices in company. Life is too short to waste on people who don't give something back to your own life or enhance your life in some capacity. Make sure children understand what makes a good friend or a good person, and encourage them to surround themselves with great people.

Practice the Art of Giving

In life, the more you give, the more you get. When kids are young, help them understand the concept of giving. Work humanitarian causes into your family value system, or spend a few days each year volunteering. You can work at a homeless shelter, food bank or contribute to any number of community causes. Kids will learn that if they give to others, the feelings they receive in return are the real payoff. Help kids learn the ways of selflessness, and model such acts in how you raise your family.

You Are NOT the Center of the Universe

Kids cannot help but believe that they are the center of the universe. By nature, they tend to be egocentric little beings. As children grow, however, they should start to understand that the world doesn't actually revolve around them. Teach children that their needs are important, but no more important than the needs of others. Be sure to:

  • Teach children patience.
  • Get them involved in activities that include giving to others.
  • Demonstrate empathy in your own behavior, and teach it to kids.

Forgiveness Is an Artform

Someone has hurt you or wronged you, and you are mad. You have a right to feel what you feel, but learning to release anger and choose to forgive is a key lesson you'll want to pass down to your offspring. Harboring ill will and resentment for another person isn't good for you, so learning to forgive can be more about your own emotional and mental well-being than it is about providing someone with a pass on their wrongful behavior.

Focus on the Journey, Not Just the End Result

Keeping your eye on the prize is fine and dandy, but you want your kids to enjoy the ride as well. It is great for children to have goals, as long as they don't become too fixated on the end result. What do they gain in the process of working towards something? The answer is probably far more than they realize. Be sure to make those smaller successes visible to kids, so they learn to value an entire process, not just crossing the finish line.

You Can Always Change Your Life

The great thing about life is, regardless of your present circumstances, you can always change! Kids won't understand this if their childhood is overly rigid. If they started dancing at age five and you force them to continue on for years, regardless of their desire to try something new, they will learn that once one is on a path, that path is the only path. In life, people can walk any path they desire. Help kids understand the delicate balance between seeing commitments through, and giving something up that no longer serves us, to try something else.

You Are Your Kid's Greatest Teacher

When it comes to instilling key life lessons in kids, you probably won't manage to drive every single point home, but the more you can discuss life with your kids, the better. Think of your family's core values and belief system, and choose the life lessons that best align with those. Your kids are your greatest gift to the world, so teach them wisely.

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29 Life Lessons for Kids Every Parent Should Share With Them