Why Children Need Life Lessons
How Life Lessons Work

How Life Lessons Work
Life lessons are a simple, yet effective way to provide specific advice to children

Ethics, values, motivation, inspiration . . .
Each Life Lesson contains a different message – advice that you consider valuable to the child at the current time. Life Lessons may involve ethics, values, motivation, and inspiration as well as other suggestions that help the child though specific situations that they face.

Presented to the child on cards
Life Lessons may be printed on cards as shown below and presented to the child.  An example is shown below.

Example Life Lesson for a young child

Address the child's current growth needs
Each Life Lesson should be tailored to the child's current situation.  What advice would help them through the many difficult decisions that they face each day?

As the child grows, the Life Lessons should grow in depth and tone.  The example Life Lesson above is intended for a young child.  The Life Lesson below is appropriate for a somewhat older child.

Example Life Lesson for a somewhat older child



A forum for discussion
The most important step is to use the process to provoke thought and discussion.  Ask the child what they think the lesson means and why it is important to their life.  Ask them if they have ever experienced the issue and ask them how they dealt with the situation.  Discuss your thoughts on the importance of the issue and how making the right choice can positively affect their life.

Only 10 to 15 minutes
The process is not a major time commitment.  It typically takes only 10 to 15 minutes - a very small amount of time - and a very large potential value.

Presented at special times
Few parents will have the time to present a different Life Lesson each day throughout the year.  Equally important, few children will have the patience and concentration to hear a new lesson each day of the year. 

As a result, we suggest selecting special times to present the Life Lessons.  For example, how about once each week?  Or once each month?  Or every holiday?  Or every Sunday throughout the summer?  Or the first Sunday of each month throughout the year?  Or when an issue confronts your child that had not been previously addressed.  There are many alternatives...


Use the Life Lesson process to provoke thought and discussion.  Talk about the importance of the issue and how making the right choice can positively affect the child's life.


Vacation may be an ideal time
For many, vacation will be an ideal time to present the lessons.  Both you and the child are removed from your day-to-day routine.  The family typically spends more time together.  It is usually easier to schedule the time.  And there is less likelihood of an interruption.

In addition, there is value to associating Life Lessons with vacation - a positive, fun time.  Life Lessons can also become a part of the vacation experience - you go on vacation - you get Life Lessons.

In the child's best interest
It is imperative that each Life lesson is structured in the child's best interest.  If the child perceives that the Life lessons are in your interest, the process is not likely to work.  In other words, we suggest that Life Lessons should not be used for "wash the dishes every night" and "mow the grass every Saturday", etc.

One or two Life Lessons each session
We recommend that you present only one or two Life Lessons in each session. If there are multiple children in a session it may be desirable to have one for each child. We suggest that too many messages may get confusing and not get through. 

Deciding which lessons for each session
You might want to plan specific lessons for specific days.  Another technique is to hold all cards out face down and let the child select the lesson(s) for the day.  (Letting younger children participate in the selection adds to the positive experience.) There no doubt are many additional alternatives on delivery. 

Start as young as you can
We suggest that starting early in a child's life will make the process much easier.  Start as early as the child can understand the messages and can focus on the topic.  (You will need to read the message to young children, but the technique can still be effective.)  By starting early you will be more in control of the situation and it is more likely to be accepted and successful in the teen years.

Reinforce the concept of self-responsibility
For the Life Lesson process to be effective, the child must accept the guidance.  The best way of getting the child to participate is to help them understand that in the end they are responsible for every decision they make – and their decisions will shape the person they will become.

We encourage you to reaffirm the importance of the process each time that you present Life Lessons.  Here are a few thoughts you might want to communicate when you present Life Lessons (this is written in terms of the adult speaking to the child.):

  • You are growing an adult - Have you ever thought about the fact that you are growing an adult in yourself?  At the end of your childhood you will be an adult.  It is very important for you to grow into the adult you want to become.
  • Your decisions will determine the adult you will become - In the coming years you will face many difficult situations.  The way you react in those situations will determine the kind of person you are - honest/dishonest - caring/selfish - kind/mean – it really is up to you.  You are responsible for the decisions you make.  And in the end those decisions will shape the adult you will become. 
  • We won't be there when the difficult situations arise - We will give you guidance when we are with you and see you making a mistake.  But we won't be with you when many of these situations occur.  You might be at school, playing or visiting friends when difficult situations arise.
  • Life Lessons are our opportunity to help you grow - The Life Lesson process is an opportunity for us to give you advice that will help you make the right decisions at the right time.  It is our hope that Life Lessons will help you grow into the adult you want to become.

For many families, vacation will be the ideal time to present Life Lessons.


Be ready for resistance from older children
If your child is already over the age of twelve when you start Life Lessons, you may get some amount of resistance from the child.  There are at least two alternative ways to approach this:

The first (and the one we prefer) is the "ask for the child's permission" technique - Ask the child for their permission to present Life Lessons.  Explain the process is in their best interest.  Explain that they have much to gain from the process.  Ask them to give it a try.

The second technique is the "tell the child how it is going to be" method - Let the child know that Life Lessons will be a part of their future.  This is another reason that presenting the Life Lessons while on vacation is desirable - If they want to join the family on vacations, they will listen to the Life Lessons and they will discuss the topics openly. 

With either technique it may take time for the child to accept the advice and truly listen.  Be persistent.


If your child is already over the age of twelve, be ready for some amount of resistance at the start.


Perfection is not required - But practice what you preach
Perfection is not required to teach values to children.  If perfection was required, no one would qualify because all of us are human and by definition, imperfect.

However, it is imperative that you are a good role model and "practice what you preach".  If you are not willing to adopt a specific Life Lesson yourself, our advice is to not present it and select other lessons for the child.  If you present Life Lessons to the child and don't follow the advice yourself, the value of the entire process will be diminished.

Repeating messages helps communicate
In the examples provided on this web site you will see that some messages are repeated from one age group to another.  In most cases this has been done because some things are so fundamental they cannot be said enough times.  In other cases it is because each child needs different advice at different ages.  We also suggest that you also should repeat messages to reinforce specific areas where the child may not be quick to change their behavior. 

Separate delivery for brothers and sisters?
Delivering the Life Lessons to multiple children at the same time means that all children get the same message.  If the children are substantially different ages, the message delivery will probably need to be separated.  Also, if the children are competitive, it may be desirable to separate them.  There are no doubt other good reasons for separating multiple children for individual Life Lessons.

Many other ways to communicate Life Lessons
"Cards" are not the only way that the Life Lesson can be delivered.  For example, you might use a calendar, showing all of the days you will be on vacation, with a different Life Lesson on the calendar for each day.  As another example, the message could be written in a conspicuous place somewhere in your home.  Alternatively they could be wrapped as a gift.  Again, there are many alternatives...

Everyone can help
While the primary advice for most children should come from parents, anyone in a position of authority/leadership can use these techniques to help shape young lives.

Is there a child in your life?  Can they use your advice?

Click here to download example Life Lessons for free.


Perfection is not required to teach values.  But it is important to be a good role model and practice what you preach.

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