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11 Life Lessons to Teach Your Child

Explore essential life lessons for kids, fostering their growth and development with valuable principles for a well-rounded future. Read on now.

When you send your child out into the world—whether it’s to preschool or their first day of college—you always hope you’ve taught them the values they need to be happy and successful. 

But how do you instill those values in a young child? 

Modeling good character through your own actions is part of the puzzle. In addition to talking about your family values, taking action and narrating what you’re doing can help them understand.

Kids really are listening when you talk about big ideas. In fact, studies find that kids show the most persistence at a task after seeing adults do the same task while talking about the importance of trying hard. With that in mind, let’s explore 11 life lessons for kids that you can teach through both words and actions.

Building a Foundation for Positive Character Development

Just like a sturdy house needs a proper foundation to withstand the test of time, your child needs to start on the right footing to build a strong, resilient character. The loving support you provide as they learn, test boundaries and make mistakes is the foundation they’ll build upon. 

As your child grows, work to provide a home environment that feels safe and secure by:

  • Treating your child with respect and patience
  • Modeling self-reflection by sharing your own thoughts and feelings
  • Avoiding shaming or guilt when your child makes mistakes

What are Important Life Lessons for Children?

To determine what life lessons to teach your child, it can help to think about the values you’d like to see your child carry through their life. Your greatest hope might be to see your child obtain higher education. You might dream of raising an individual with an adventurous spirit who travels the world. 

But there is one common goal we’d all want for our children, and that’s life satisfaction. 

Researchers who study life satisfaction find that it correlates to character traits like kindness, empathy, resilience, and generosity. We’ve used those traits to create our list of 11 life lessons that will help your child develop the kind of character that leads to a fulfilling life.

#1 Resilience and Perseverance

Life is full of ups and downs, and it’s essential for kids to learn the ability to bounce back from challenges. You can help build this trait by instilling a growth mindset.

A growth mindset means believing that:

  • Our skills and intelligence aren’t fixed but can be developed with time and practice
  • Mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow

For example, if your child is struggling with a difficult math problem, you could try the following:

  • Using positive statements like, “It will be hard, but trying is what’s important.” 
  • Encourage trying different strategies to approach the problem, such as breaking it down into smaller steps
  • Praise the effort, not the outcome (“I saw how hard you studied! Great work.”)

#2 Empathy and Compassion

When it comes to teaching empathy to kids, the goal is to have them understand and share the feelings of others. In regards to teaching compassion, the goal is to encourage them to step in and help when they see another being struggling or suffering. These are two closely connected and vital social-emotional skills—they’re the building blocks of meaningful connection. 

You can nurture these traits in many ways, big and small, such as:

  • Showing compassion – Suggest offering a hug or a listening ear when a good friend is sad.
  • Sharing what we have – Praise your child when you see them offering a turn with a toy or sharing a snack. Suggest donating toys or clothes when they’re outgrown.
  • Caring for living things – Help your child plant an easy-to-grow seed like a sunflower and show them how to raise their seedlings with loving care.

#3 Responsibility and Accountability

One of the most valuable lessons for kids is accountability. Teaching responsibility to kids helps them feel a sense of ownership in their actions and decisions. It’s not only an important part of establishing their sense of individuality but also a key piece of building a strong moral sense. Talk to your child about the importance of keeping promises, meeting obligations, and owning our mistakes.

Put this important life lesson into action by:

  • Assigning age-appropriate chores like feeding the pets or setting the table
  • Responding positively when they acknowledge mistakes
  • Giving them responsibility for self-care, such as getting dressed, combing their hair, etc.

#4 Respect for Others and Yourself

Respect is the basis for treating others well, but it’s also key to how we treat ourselves. Help your child to treat others with consideration while also having self-awareness to set personal boundaries. 

  • Model respectful behavior in front of your child in your own interactions
  • Talk with your child about expressing their thoughts and feelings clearly while respecting what other people think and feel

#5 Kindness and Generosity

Random acts of kindness have the power to create a ripple effect of positivity in the world. With a bit of creativity, you’ll find almost endless ways to help your child show kindness in practical ways:

  • Bake cookies together and deliver them around the neighborhood
  • Make no-sew beds for dogs and cats and donate them to the animal shelter
  • Tell someone something special that you appreciate about them 

#6 Importance of Honesty and Integrity

When it comes to good character, honesty and integrity are traits we would love to see developed throughout their life. You can teach this valuable life lesson by talking with your child about the importance of trust in our relationships and how trust is broken by dishonesty like breaking promises, cheating, or lying.

One effective way to help your child learn the value of honesty is through games. Whenever you play a game together, it’s an opportunity to talk about integrity and fairness. 

If you notice your child cheating (most kids do occasionally), respond calmly and without shaming:

  • “I noticed you took an extra turn. Next time, try asking if you can have a do-over instead.”
  • “I think games are more fun when everyone plays fair, don’t you?”
  • “Winning isn’t much fun if you don’t follow the rules.”

#7 Time Management and Prioritization

Time management is a part of personal responsibility, and it empowers kids to balance responsibilities and make the most of their time. You can help your child develop this vital life lesson by:

  • Setting up a daily routine and sticking to it
  • Talking about how to decide what is most important and the order of tasks
  • Creating a visual schedule or checklist together to help your child organize their tasks 

#8 Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking

Life is full of problems waiting to be solved, and cultivating problem-solving skills is an important life lesson that will help your child approach challenges with confidence and creativity. 

You can help their young milds build critical thinking skills by asking open-ended questions and exploring multiple solutions when they’re faced with a dilemma. Try showing your child how to make a pro and con list to choose between options.

#9 Gratitude and Appreciation

Gratitude is the antidote to entitlement, and research shows it’s one of the biggest keys to a sense of life satisfaction. Teaching your child the habit of gratitude from a young age lays the groundwork for a healthy mindset that they’ll carry lifelong. 

A gratitude board is a fun way to collect reminders of everything your child is grateful for. Just hang a bulletin board in their room and let them fill it with anything they choose:

  • Pictures of favorite things clipped from magazines
  • Their own artwork
  • A special leaf or pressed flower
  • Notes about something good that happened each day  
  • Photos of favorite places, family, friends, and pets

#10  Healthy Communication Skills

Effective communication is vital for building healthy relationships, resolving conflicts peacefully, and expressing thoughts and emotions openly. How you talk to your child is their earliest training ground for building communication skills, so be sure you:

  • Listen to each other without interrupting
  • Show engagement and interest in what they’re saying
  • Encourage them to talk about their emotions and show that you’ll listen non-judgmentally

#11 Embracing Patience and Tolerance

In a culture that emphasizes instant gratification, teaching your child the virtues of patience and tolerance is invaluable. Patience helps kids navigate challenges with grace and perseverance. Tolerance fosters understanding and acceptance of differences. 

Waiting in line or at a traffic light is a perfect time to model patience. The next time you’re waiting, say something like:

  • “I get impatient standing in line sometimes. That’s when I look for interesting things around me.”
  • “Waiting is hard! But we can make it fun by making up a story.”
  • “Let’s not get frustrated about waiting. Instead, let’s try doing our ocean breathing.”

The Slumberkins Approach to Teaching Kids

At Slumberkins, we believe in teaching social-emotional skills through words and deeds, starting from the moment our kids are born. We’re all about what we call the Connect-to-Grow approach. 

That’s the idea that growth happens through connection, reflection, and practice. 

All of our products are designed to help you connect with your child through storytelling and interactive play. Through stories and play, you can help your child reflect on the world of emotions and practice emotional skills like kindness, honesty, and compassion. With these tools, you’ll set your child on the path to a lifelong journey of emotional growth.


Child Development. How adults’ actions, outcomes, and testimony affect preschoolers’ persistence. https://srcd.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cdev.13305 

Child Indicators Research. The influence of moral character attributes on adolescent life satisfaction: The mediating role of responsible behavior. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12187-020-09797-7 

Frontiers in Psychology. The reciprocal relationship between gratitude and life satisfaction: Evidence from two longitudinal field studies. https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychology/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02480/full 

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