Andrew Parker

25 Life Lessons We Shouldn’t Teach Our Children

Everyone wants the best for their kids, right? But sometimes, the stuff we’re telling them might not be the sound advice we think it is. Some of it’s completely outdated, while the rest of it is straight-up wrong. Here are 25 life lessons we’ve got to stop telling our kids about immediately. There’s no shame if you’ve told your kids these before, just make sure to never tell them again.

Mistakes Are Bad

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One important life lesson is that messing up is a part of learning. If we keep telling kids that mistakes are the end of the world, they’re going to feel too scared to try new things. Who is that going to help? We need to teach them that learning from these mistakes is the best thing to do. Getting better is important, not getting it right.

Being Wrong is Embarrassing

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Also, being wrong doesn’t always have to be something to be ashamed of because every mistake is a step towards getting it right. Do you think the people who changed the world never made a mistake? No, they just never let their fear of making mistakes hold them back. We should teach our kids to be fearless learners.

Stick to What You Know

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Likewise, we need to stop telling kids they should only do what they’re already good at. After all, they could be the next big film star or coding genius, and we shouldn’t stop them from doing that. Instead, let’s help them feel excited about picking up a new skill and finding a new passion. You never know what hidden talents they might find.

There’s Only One Path to Success

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In 2022, Axios reported there were 8 billion people in the world, and there are just as many paths to success if not more. Some people find their calling in college, while others would rather do their own thing. It really doesn’t matter. What’s truly important is what makes you happy and doing that, even if it’s not what everyone else is doing.

Always Do What Adults Tell You

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Yes, respect is always important, but teaching kids to follow along without question is a big no-no. We want them to grow up knowing it’s okay to speak up if something doesn’t feel right. Teach them to develop critical thinking skills and be respectful with their questions. A child’s voice always matters, even in a room full of grown-ups.

Boys Don’t Cry

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Here’s one of two outdated gender norms we’ve got to stop teaching our kids. It’s okay for all kids to express their emotions, no matter if they’re boys or girls. Bottling things up never ends well for anyone. Let’s create a healthier and more open conversation about feelings by teaching boys that vulnerability is a strength.

Girls Should Be Quiet and Polite

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Similarly, we need to hear more voices, and that includes the little ones with big ideas! Research from the University of Toronto shows just how dangerous the stereotype of girls being quiet and “nice” is. We’ve got to challenge it by teaching them to speak up and lead, just like boys do. If we help them feel confident early, they’ll feel just as empowered later.

Being Busy Means You’re Important

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This life lesson is one even adults need to stop following. If we teach kids that they’ve got to be doing a million activities to matter, then they’ll miss out on the simple joy of being bored. Yes, joy! Boredom is where you can flex your creative muscles, so finding a balance between free time and activities encourages kids to explore their ideas.

You Can’t Get Smarter

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Brains grow and change, which comes with effort. It’s time we change the idea that you’re stuck being as intelligent or capable as you currently are. Instead of letting kids say, “I can’t do this,” we should teach them to add “yet” to the end. It’s a small change, but it can make a huge difference.

There’s Only One Right Way to Learn

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Continuing on this learning theme, everyone’s brain works a little differently, and that’s okay. Some kids get the hang of things in a group, while others need some quiet time to soak it all up. We should teach kids that they should find out what works best for them instead of forcing them to follow one learning plan.

Art Is Just a Hobby

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Forget what you think you know about art because it’s not just a hobby. Yes, an art career can mean painting in a studio, but it also includes design, digital media, and more. No matter what field you’re in, creativity is a superpower. Let’s encourage our kids to go to art classes and drama clubs if that’s what they want.

Money Equals Success

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If we only measured success through cash, we’d miss out on a lot. Of course, nobody can deny it’s nice to buy stuff to make life comfortable. But it’s not the whole picture. Success also means doing what you love and helping those around you, so let’s teach our kids that. Plus, research shows that money can’t buy you happiness.

You Should Always Be Happy

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If there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that life will throw you a ton of curveballs. But what we need to understand is that it’s okay not to hit a home run with each of them. We need to let kids know that it’s okay to feel upset or even frustrated with things sometimes. It’s part of being human. Instead, let’s help them understand how to bounce back from this.

Everyone Gets Trophy

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Although they might teach this in school, it’s not always the taking part that counts. You won’t get a trophy for just showing up at work. Kids should know that putting in effort and learning from their losses is what matters. And, of course, celebrating the real wins. They should know that genuine achievement has a value that no medal can compare to. 

Don’t Talk to Strangers

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Sure, it’s absolutely important to stay safe and to teach kids about making smart choices. But the world’s full of interesting people, and not everyone unknown is out to get you. It can be pretty cool to meet new friends. Instead of telling kids to be afraid of everyone, we should help them understand how to make connections and stay safe.

Respect Elders No Matter What

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Respect doesn’t come from how many birthdays you have, so why do we teach kids that it does? We should teach them that respect comes from how you teach others and yourself. Yes, they should listen and learn from those with more experience, but it’s also okay for them to have their own opinions.

Don’t Question Authority

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We all know that kid who just can’t stop saying “why?” Most of the time, it’s pretty annoying, but really, we shouldn’t be annoyed at them for this. Asking “why” helps them to understand the world better, and we should encourage this. When we get kids to think for themselves, we’re helping them become more informed adults.

Stay Inside the Lines

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Stop telling kids to “stay inside the lines” because the best ideas come from coloring outside them. Thinking differently is the only way you can end up making something new, so let’s encourage kids to do this. They shouldn’t be afraid to draw their own lines, whether it’s in art or in life.

Good Grades Are All That Matter

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Of course, we all want our kids to get good grades at school, and that’s something you should encourage. But grades are just one part of the story. Being kind and passionate about what you love is just as important. Let’s teach them to aim high but also chase after the things that put a smile on their faces, as long as they don’t hurt others.

There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Screen Time

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In a world full of screens, it’s easy to get sucked in, for both adults and children alike. But there’s so much more to life than what’s on the screen. One study found that it can have serious effects on child development. The best way to avoid this is to lead by example, so put that phone down and explore the world around you. Getting your hands dirty can lead to some pretty crazy adventures.

Adults Have All the Answers

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If another adult came up to you and expected you to know the answers to everything, you’d feel pretty confused, right? So why do we teach kids to do this? Even as adults, we’re still figuring things out, and that’s okay. Admitting we don’t have all the answers can be pretty cool. Even Forbes said it can be beneficial.

Don’t Ask For Help

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There’s this idea floating around that asking for help means you’re weak or not smart enough. We’re not sure where it came from, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone needs a hand sometimes. Asking for it can be pretty brave Let’s teach kids that it’s always okay to ask for help so they understand it’s a part of growing up.

Teamwork Doesn’t Matter

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In every part of our life, we need teamwork to be successful. It might not be the thing that pushes us over the line to victory, but it’ll be the foundation to get us there. Kids need to learn how to value cooperation and listen to other people’s ideas. This way, they can learn empathy and respect for others.

Fitting Is in Everything

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Being like everyone else really is not that important. What matters is being true to yourself, even when it’s different to everyone else, because that’s where you’ll find true happiness. We should teach kids to celebrate their differences and be proud of them. There’s a real strength in being exactly who you are.

Mindfulness Is a Waste of Time

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Finally, we have a lesson that adults should pay attention to. Gratitude and mindfulness come from more than simply saying “thank you.” Recognizing and appreciating the value of our everyday moments and the things around us can help us live happier lives. So, let’s teach our kids this, too.

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