ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

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

Updated on March 31, 2016
Dorothy Law Nolte (1924 - 2005)
Dorothy Law Nolte (1924 - 2005) | Source

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 | Source

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

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) | Source

Good Tips for Parents:

Here some writing about how to enrich our children multiples intelligences, inspirational story about intelligences, and music for children.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image 

      6 years ago

      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 Art profile imageAUTHOR

      Esrom Aritonang 

      6 years ago from Indonesia

      Thanks and God bless you too.

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

    • fullheartteacher profile image


      6 years ago from Philippines

      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 profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Wonderful hub throughout.

      Here's to many more and enjoy your day


    • rambansal profile image

      Ram Bansal 

      7 years ago from India

      A great article on parenting and development of children..

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 

      8 years ago

      Great hub


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)