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Children Learn What They Live - Famous Poem by Dorothy Law Nolte

Esrom Aritonang enjoys reading and sharing funny, inspirational, and thought-provoking quotes.

Dorothy Law Nolte (1924 - 2005)

Dorothy Law Nolte (1924 - 2005)

Children Learn What They Live is Wrong Tittle

Dorothy Law Nolte was writing a poem Children Learn What They Live (not "Children Live What They Learn") in 1954 for a weekly newspaper. She did not realized that her poem will be inspiring millions people. She did not know that her poem was copied and circulated entire the world and attributed to "Anonymous”. But in internet, many people quote her poem with wrong tittle: Children Live What They Learn. I hate to know it, so miserable.

Dorothy Law Nolte realized Children Learn What They Live poem so famous when she knew that a company was distributing millions of copies of the poem along with baby-nutrition products in 1972. Nevertheless she let the company to use it for free. Now Her inspirational poem is classical work around the world and has been reprinted in 30 languages. She was died on November 6, 2005, at the age of 81.

Dorothy Law Nolte

Who is Dorothy Law Nolte with her famous parenting poem “Children Learn What They Live”?. She was a family life educator who born January 12 1924. She died of cancer at her home in Rancho Santa Margarita (Orange County).

She wrote that famous poem for Torrance (Los Angeles County) newspaper in 1954 to fill her weekly family advice column. She wrote the poem in her kitchen, sent it off, and thought no more about it. The poem started each line with the word "if" with tittle "Children Learn What They Live". That the correct tittle, not "Children Live What They Learn".

Now “Children Learn What They Live” poem became a child-rearing anthem that parents posted on refrigerators around the world. It appeared on regular bases in "Dear Abby" columns. "I simply wrote it and put it out there, where it has apparently moved through the world on its own momentum," Mrs. Nolte told the Los Angeles Times in early 2005.

Poem “Children Learn What They Live” became a bestseller in Japan in 2005 after Crown Prince Naruhito revealed that he was using it to raise his three-year-old daughter, Princess Aiko. The poem profoundly touched Prince Naruhito who discovered it in a Swedish textbook. Throughout her life Mrs. Nolte was involved with family work and children. She was trained as a family counselor, held parenting classes, founded a preschool and was a childbirth-education instructor.

Dorothy Law Nolte

Dorothy Law Nolte

Inspirational Parenting Poem

Dorothy Law Nolte decided to claim ownership of the poem by basing a 1998 book on it. The book Children Learn What They Live devotes a chapter to each line of the poem and is filled with examples of positive teaching.

The book Children Learn What They Live has been reprinted in 19 countries and 18 languages. The book sold more than 3 million copies in print worldwide, except of posters, stickers, t-shirt, mug, and in many souvenir.

"The book gave her ownership of her own poem and philosophy, and it gave her a platform," said Rachel Harris, her co-author.

Mrs. Nolte also wrote a similar book for teens, titled Teenagers Learn What They Live in 2002.

Children Learn What They Live

The earliest version of “Children Learn What They Live” was published in the Torrance Schools Board of Education newsletter on April 1, 1959 under the name of Dorothy Louise Law. This version is original with emphasize line such “BUT” and question for us at the end of poem “WITH WHAT IS YOUR CHILD LIVING?"

Children Learn What They Live (1959)

Children Learn What They Live (1959)

Children Learn What They Live (Version 1959)

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 fear, he learns to be apprehensive . . .
If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself . . .
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy . . .
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel guilt . . .


If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient . . .
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident . . .
If a child lives with , he learns to be appreciative . . .
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love . . .
If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is . . .
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice . . .
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and those about him . . .
If a child lives with friendlienss(sic), he learns the world is a nice place in which to live . . .


Dorothy L. Law

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Children Learn What They Live (Version 1998)

Dorothy Law Nolte with co-author Rachel Harris wrote a book Children Learn What They Live in 1998. There are some different with version 1958.

Children Learn What They Live

By Dorothy Law Nolte (1924 - 2005)

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 feel 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 encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

With What is Your Child Living?

Dorothy Law Nolte gave us a question, “With What is Your Child Living?” Do we teach or ignore them? Many children more learned and companion by television. Many parents did not spend enough time with their children. Is this with what our child living? Let we find answer in our heart and faith. I hope parents and all who read that poem got insight and more love children. God bless the children.

Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte Ph.D. (Author) and Rachel Harris L.C.S.W. Ph.D. (Co-Author)

Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte Ph.D. (Author) and Rachel Harris L.C.S.W. Ph.D. (Co-Author)

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Mohmed on January 10, 2015:

I really liked your peormfrance because you all worked together really well. Kirsty was very loud and clear. The sound effects really made the poem interesting and fun to watch. Maybe next time you could keep the instruments in your hand so that you don't keep bending down. on April 03, 2013:

I was given this poem when I was seventeen , when I gave both to my daughter Cassandra. These are words to live by VERY important in today's society. My good friends daughter is having a baby and I thought this is great gift for het thank you

Esrom Aritonang (author) from Indonesia on June 12, 2012:

Thanks and God bless you too.

No, I am not a teacher, just writer who loves to share inspire story.

fullheartteacher from Philippines on May 13, 2012:

Oh! How I loved this hub.......It inspires me not only as a mother but as a teacher as well. I wish to read more from your hub. By the way, are you a teacher? I love your hub on multiple intelligence too.

More power and God Bless......

Eiddwen from Wales on March 06, 2012:

Wonderful hub throughout.

Here's to many more and enjoy your day


Ram Bansal from India on October 18, 2011:

A great article on parenting and development of children..

Sophia Angelique on January 17, 2011:

Great hub

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