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3 Important Things to Tell Your Kids (and Yourself)

There is wisdom everywhere – we just have to tune into it. Each person I meet, as I travel as a speaker and coach, has something remarkable to share about life, being happy or living one’s greatness. They are also quick to share their failures and challenges – and how these events have been critical to reframe and improve their thinking. Ah, collective genius – actively learning from everyone and everything in life to live with clarity, competence and courage.

Sometimes others have the information that will help us avoid making mistakes or to help us be more successful at something in life. Sometimes we don’t have to go through life’s tough events ourselves, we can just learn from others.

So, from all this street wisdom I have heard lately, here are three of my favorites that I believe we should tell our kids (so they have great and happy lives). And while telling them, we should listen and act on our own advice:

  1. Today is not a dress rehearsal. You don’t get this moment or day to live over. What matters is right now. Think and choose wisely. Have a vision. Define your values and beliefs; use them to live intentionally, passionately and powerfully each day. You never know how many days you have so love, respect and value today. Each day is precious and each day is a gift. Be grateful for the gift.
  2. You own your life. You can and should listen to others, read everything you can and really learn about your world. Then determine of what you hear, what is right for you. You are your life’s owner. You are not only responsible for this life, but you are accountable for it; your actions matter; your thoughts and feelings matter; your impact matters. No one can (or should) live your life for you. This is the greatest thing and most difficult thing about life – you own yours. Don’t follow others when they go in a direction that doesn’t fit you. Don’t let others tell you what to do, believe, or how to live – you decide. Get help until you are ready to decide, but know that it is your voice that must always direct your life.
  3. Never determine your value by what others say or think. This may be the toughest. We are each so influenced by friends, family, society, ads, lifestyles, etc. But remember, when you don’t know what your voice says (because you don’t know your talents, strengths, passions and values), you will let others speak and decide for you. You will let others tell you who you should be, what you should buy, where you should live, who you should marry, what you should believe. And you will determine your value by what they say – DON’T. Just remember that you are already great – as you are. You are valuable not because of what you do, where you live or how much you make. You are valuable because you were born awesome and perfect as you are. You have amazing abilities that the world may sometimes not appreciate – but that doesn’t mean they’re not amazing. Be yourself. Be true to what you feel. Live your best abilities and make your own personal dent in the universe. Don’t check with others to determine if it was enough of a dent – you decide.

I am grateful for those who have come into my life to share this wisdom with me so I can guide those I love and care about. Our kids need our guidance to help them discover, develop and live what is great in them. And we should listen to our own advice and do the same for ourselves. Inspire yourself and others to live life like it matters – because it does.

About Jay Forte

Jay Forte is a family, teen, career and mindfulness coach, author, motivational speaker and nationally ranked Thought Leader. He helps parents learn how to guide, support and coach their kids to discover, develop and live who they really are - to help them be ready for life.

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30 comments

  1. I cannot agree with #3 more! This is one of the most important things I want to teach my children. We are so influenced by t.v and social media these days it can be hard not to let what others think determine what you think. I practice seeing my own self worth every day and it has helped me to become a better person. I want my children to know that it is them and them alone that decide what they are worth and what they can do. At the end of the day the only person I want them to try to impress is themselves.

    • It’s a big truth and I say that to my kids quite often. They are just 6 and 9 so for them peer pressure is something too real. My younger seems to have grasped the concept, so when the other kids say something bad about him he already has the capacity of ignoring them, so that leaves me proud. 🙂

  2. I think number 3 has always been my downfall. I always say I don’t care what others think but I do let what they think determine how I feel about my success. I am determined to stop allowing others to affect what I do and how I live! That way my failures and successes are mine and only I can make a change!

    • Its easier said than done, and you will struggle with it but its better when you do not let others opinions determine your path in life. Trendsetters have always been risk takers. They have always taken the path less traveled by.

  3. I truly stand by #2! We often go through life believing that we owe others certain actions, we often feel obligated to fulfill the desires of others, and we even feel responsible for how our actions hold implications for other people. At such times, we forget that ‘we own our lives’, and we are accountable only to ourselves.

  4. As a mom of 4 kids, I struggle daily with all of these. Some days life just seems so out of hand! I wake up every morning praying that the day will go well and that by day’s end I won’t have failed them as a mom. I’ve learned so much since I became a parent 9 years ago, but I’m still learning every day. Every day is a blessing and a chance to learn. I work on personal development daily because I feel there is nothing smarter than to improve yourself!

  5. This is such an uplifting article. i completely agree with each of these ideas. You are responsible and accountable for YOU! And your worth is not based on what others say it is. You are important and you need to take charge of your life. This is such important advice to give to young ones and even those who are struggling with themselves. Today is here, and there is no more preparing for it, so just go and live!

  6. Number 2 is definitely good advice. Problem is that a lot of times, we as parents forget that little tidbit ourselves and try to direct the lives of our children. We forget they are their own person and should be allowed to make their own choices. We want so much for our kids that we think we know better what their choices should be but how can they learn for themselves if we don’t allow them to choose for themselves. Be their own person.

  7. All I can say is this that I truly appreciate everything written in this article and so many things written hits close to home. Never letting others live your life for you is a big one for me. There are so many people in my life that have expectations as to what I should and shouldn’t do I feel pressured to give in so I don’t upset anybody. But guess what? I end up upsetting someone ultimately and that person is myself. I always seem to put myself on the back burner. Sometimes I even suffer from burnout trying to please everyone. Though I have learned that it is not my job to be a people pleaser and that habit is hard to break when I truly love helping those I value in my life.

  8. This is all wonderful advice. I, too, struggle with #3 the most. I have an 8-year-old son who was diagnosed with ADHD and Dyslexia. I see him struggle so often with trying to fit in and see him worrying about how the other kids in his class treat him. They are not mean, per se, but they do treat him differently because he does things differently from them. I tell him all the time that he shouldn’t try to be like everyone else, because he IS different from everyone else. No one is alike and we all have our differences that we should try to celebrate. But it’s difficult trying to get this through a sensitive 8-year-old’s mind.

  9. This is such a great article, and so true!! Number one is truly written so well and we all need to remember that right now is all that we have!! I needed to read this and need to not only tell my kids this, but myself all of this on a daily basis!! Very well written!

  10. This is so true. I do believe that we all are in each others lives to learn. We can gather information from other individuals and learn from them. It would be great if we began to pay attention to this and did not make the same mistakes. If we could only understand this and accept that each of us have been wonderfully and uniquely created, we would not make so many mistakes.

  11. That was truly encouraging. I know I will not only share it with my children but apply it in my life as well. I know children need direction and this is a great way to get them thinking positively about themselves. Many people do not feel they matter because of what they have been conditioned to believe, but hearing those words can make a massive impact.

  12. I hope to learn #3 before my son gets here. I’ve always been very emotional, and although I try to act like things people say and do don’t affect me; it’s further from the truth. I just dislike how its advocated to be an original but yet whats portrayed in the world is that there is this set path and one way to do things. I can only hope my son learns that there is no manual on life. Just set your goals and go for them the best way you know how. I appreciate this article very much.

  13. This is so true. I do believe that we all are in each others lives to learn. We can gather information from other individuals and learn from them. It would be great if we began to pay attention to this and did not make the same mistakes. If we could only understand this and accept that each of us have been wonderfully and uniquely created, we would not make so many mistakes. I really hope I can convey this message to my children.

  14. Thank you for the article, beatifully written and really motivational. I just screwed up a studying schedule I should have started today because I drank too much — on a sunday night, even — I woke up feeling a terrible headache and nausea. At least I exercised after I was feeling better.
    Tomorrow brings a new day though, and with it another shot at getting the schedule right. Scheduling will be important for me because I lack discipline and sometimes motivation. Wish me luck!

  15. What a wonderful article. I really love #1. I want to live in the moment more and not worry so much about the future or how things could go wrong. We will never get to do a day over again, so we should do it the best we can every time. All of this is great advice for kids and adults!

  16. Wow what a truly inspiring and motivational article! I do have a son but he is just one year old. Everyday, I see him and realize how perfect he is just the way he is. I see his smile, tantrums and laughter and I feel better even in days that just seem so ordinary. I know that I will teach him these pillars of thought.

    I will tell him to live each day as if it were the last, live as who he really is and shake off all judgments by people who do not matter. But I will also follow these pieces of advice as they do not only apply to our kids but also to ourselves. Sometimes we tend to forget that we are human too and to take care of a kid is a big responsibility. Having these pieces of advice will help us go through everyday life with a bigger smile in our faces.

  17. These things are surprisingly simple yet effective although today might actually be a dress rehearsal. Maybe your kids are part of a drama circle, who knows?

  18. These are all very true. I try very hard to do these things, but sometimes it takes time for it to really become a habit. Thinking positively will help in all areas of ones life. By thinking in a positive way, a person will become a positive person in general. This is never a bad thing.

  19. This is a great article indeed, I particularly like the third point, which mentions that we should not value ourselves based on the subjective opinions of other people.
    This may prove to be difficult to do because we are influenced by everyone around us, but just as it is said in this article: we should not let others decide for us!

    I like the fact that we are valuable because we are “born awesome and perfect!” as we are.

    Thank you for such a powerful message!

  20. Point 2 and 3 are basically related to each other. If you don’t own your life, you will follow what others are doing. So by doing that you also let other people decide for you. You let all the other voices into your head because you don’t grasp and own your life. So, you still need to listen to others for advice, but ultimately you’re the one who needs to make the decision. If you own and stay on top of your life, you won’t let other people decide for you.

  21. I start many days with motivation and end with, “I’ll do better tomorrow.” Number one is so important because in order for me or my daughter to accomplish our dreams and goals, everyday must count. It is so easy to be distracted and give into our mid-day crash. I am trying to find disciple in my day to day actions and hope that will become of part of my daughter. Procrastination has always been an issue for me and I do not want that to be the example I set for my child.

  22. I always say that raising kids is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life or that I am (still) doing, but it’s also the most rewarding. To motivate our kids we need to give the example and to encourage them to do things. They absorb our example, so if we are too harsh we are destroying their hopes and self-esteem too. Other people don’t define who they are, so true.

  23. What touched me about this article is the “you own your life” part. Parents shouldn’t teach their children that their lives belong to someone else, specially not their parents. Parents are supposed to teach children how to grow up and become adults, how to make their own lives what they want it to be. The best thing a parent can do for its child is making sure he’s learning just enough independency to go by when he grows up, or if something happens to said parents.

  24. That’s true. Parents and teachers have a huge power over the life of kids, so even if we need to guide them, we also need to teach that they are the “owners” of their life and destiny and with that try to teach them responsibility for their actions.

  25. This is a great post. Kids need to be reassured that they are good enough and that they can face anything in this world and come out victorious. Mistakes are a stepping stone to a better future. As they say, you live and you learn.

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