10 Things We Teach Children That May Do More Harm Than Good

For many years, we have been teaching children certain things that many would consider outdated and unhelpful. We all have different thoughts and ideas on how children should be raised.

Someone recently asked, “What do we need to stop teaching children?” Here are the top-voted responses. Do you agree with these or have any additional responses to add?

You may also be interested in: 30 Facts You Learned in School That Are No Longer True

1. Play Ends When You Reach Adulthood

“That play ends when you reach adulthood (however) play is important, even when we’re grown,” one person said.

With so much emphasis on excelling in academic and professional realms, it can be easy to forget how important play is for both our mental and physical well-being. We should encourage children to find joy in playing and use it as a source of creativity and development.

2. You Can Get What You Want if You Are Nice

Teaching children to be nice to get what they want leaves them manipulative and dishonest. “Instead, teach them to handle ‘No,'” one person said. Too many people grow up and get offended at being told “No.” Teachers and parents want their children to learn how to ask for things in a polite way – but not how to handle rejection.

Saying “no” can be difficult at times, but instead, encourage children to find an alternative solution that doesn’t harm or put pressure on the other person’s decision.

3. Do as I Say

“Kids learn by watching us. whatever we want kids to do or not do starts with grown-ups addressing our own hang-ups. full stop,” another stated.

We should be role models for our children and practice what we preach. If we want them to listen to us, then they need to see that we are listening too and following through on what we say as well.

4. Failure is Bad

“That failure is something to be ashamed of and to avoid at all costs. We all fail sometimes and we need to be able to accept that,” a person said.

It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.”

Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek.

We can say this to help children understand that failure is not a bad thing, and instead, it can be used as an opportunity for growth and learning. We should encourage them to learn from their mistakes and accept them.

5. You Need Talent to Be Good at Something

“That you need talent to be good at something,” one person said. “Right on,” said another. “So much can be learned, practiced, and become a skill.”

Many skilled musicians, actors, writers, and sports players say that it is not just about talent but hard work and dedication.

“The right ingredients to become a great football player are, first, the talent. Without that, you can’t do much. Then, talent is useless without hard work. Nothing falls from the skies.” —Cristiano Ronaldo.

6. You Need to Be Friends With Everyone

“I’ve had to tell my kids this. Like when kids in their class don’t ever want to play with them,” one person chimed in. “Not everyone wants to be your friend, and that’s ok.”

We should be teaching children the importance of healthy boundaries and how to choose the right friends for themselves. We should also teach them that it is ok not to be best friends with someone but still treat them respectfully and kindly. It’s good to be honest with their feelings and not force themselves into friendships they are not comfortable in.

At the same time, we should also teach children tolerance and acceptance of others who may have different backgrounds or beliefs than them. We should let them know that it’s ok to disagree with someone as long as they do so in a peaceful manner.

7. Force Children To Accept an Apology

If you force a child to accept an apology, it is never truly resolved. The underlying issue is still there.

One person said, “I am a 3rd-grade teacher. My students know I won’t force an apology. Instead, I speak to the students about their choices and how they made others feel. I’ve found that once students realize what they did, they do apologize on their own, and the other student does accept it because they know the apology is sincere. Oftentimes, students will even try to resolve the issue on their own. It’s common for students to ask me if they could speak alone in the hallway. They then return proudly stating that they resolved their issue.”

8. Don’t Cry

“To push down their feelings and never cry. You don’t heal unless you work through your emotions. Support them, don’t scold.”

Were you raised with the “boys don’t cry” generation? We should instead teach children that it is ok to cry and show their emotions. Let them know that it is healthy to talk about their feelings, even if they think those feelings are negative. We should support them through difficult times and remind them that crying does not make them weak or less of a person; instead, it can be a sign of strength.

9. I Before E Except After C

One person wrote: “I before E, except after C”; this rule has so many exceptions that it should not be considered a rule. A person responded: “Except when your foreign neighbor Keith receives eight counterfeit beige sleighs from feisty, caffeinated weightlifters. Weird.”

Should we really be teaching children this rule? The truth is that there are so many exceptions to this expression, like leisure and seize, where it fails completely.

10. If He’s Mean to You, He Likes You

I tell my daughter, “it doesn’t matter if he likes you; if he’s not kind, he’s not worth your time,” one person said.

This phrase is seen as especially damaging. We should be teaching children that kindness and respect are the foundation of healthy relationships, regardless of whether they are platonic or romantic. No one deserves to be treated poorly, no matter how much someone may like them. Encourage children to cultivate friendships with people who treat them with respect and dignity, as those are the people who will truly be there for them.


These are just a few of the things that people agree we should stop teaching children. Instead, we should focus on teaching them how to think critically, develop empathy and respect others, and become strong individuals. Only through these lessons will we be able to create a better future for all.

We hope you enjoyed this Reddit picks list of things to stop teaching children. This post, 10 Things to Stop Teaching Children, was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching.

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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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