I have several phrases, quotes, and words that I try to live by. They remind me of how I want to interact with the world. Here are two of my favorites:

  • There is no place to get to—This is a perspective about waiting in airports or traffic, and it just reminds me to enjoy where I am in the moment.
  • If there is an experience in front of you, have it—This reminds me to participate and try things versus not accepting the invitations that the world offers. In particular, it helps me overcome a tendency to choose comfort over new experiences.

I’m sure you also remember things your parents said repeatedly—things that spoke to the values, standards, and beliefs they felt were important.

Recently my friend Bruce shared a couple of lists that his eight-year-old granddaughter, Elsie, had made, like the one pictured here with reminders for when she returned to school.


Elsie also keeps a list of reminders on a white board behind her bedroom door, and they change from time to time. These were on one board titled “Lessons”:

  • Be determined
  • Always tell the truth
  • Don’t be bossy
  • Always try something new
  • Defend yourself in life
  • Make the right choice
  • Set an example
  • Never let your big sister annoy you
  • Never let your big brother annoy you
  • Never say “You owe me 10 bucks,” because bucks mean punches, so say “dollars”
  • Always try stuff
  • Do your best in school
  • Attend all the parties you can
  • Try sports

These lists show me that even young children are thinking about these things. They are constantly learning from us about how they should be in the world. They are watching us. They are listening to us and to their teachers. They are listening to the messages in movies and books.  They are learning from the world.

So I’m wondering,

  • Do you have a list of reminders about how you want to be in the world? Is it where your children can see it?
  • What are you saying to your children that they will remember?
  • What would your children already have on their lists if you asked them?
  • What books are they reading?
  • What have they learned about the world recently?

Ask them. The conversations you have will be wonderful and will provide an ideal opportunity to share those values and standards you believe are important in life.

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain as he is. If you treat an individual as he could be, he will become the person he could be.”  

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German Writer

Sign up for free updates from Paul and a chapter from the book, Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids!