Creative Child

Three Important Lessons for Kids from Martin Luther King, Jr

by Rebecca Eanes


Never Give Up

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” - MLK Jr.

Do you have a naturally persistent child? While it can be challenging, particularly during those toddler years, persistence is a good trait for your child to have. It’s key to success! Some kids seem to be born with a stubborn streak that will not allow them to quit while others may need this trait to be cultivated and nurtured. Here are 4 ways to teach persistence according to parenting expert and author Dr. Laura Markham


  1. Reward persistence. Dr. Markham suggests acknowledging when your child has worked hard toward something regardless of the outcome. 
  2. Find win-win solutions. Research shows that controlling parenting creates rebellion but working with your child creates a positive and cooperative relationship. Teach your child to identify each person’s needs and to look for a solution that everyone involved can live with.
  3. Offer emotional support. Help your child understand that it takes time to develop and master skills, and that no one accomplishes big things overnight. While it’s okay to experiment and try new things, a child who quits everything she attempts is probably bound by fear. It will take patience, and there may be a few tears along the way, but encourage her to finish out the class or the season. Dr. Markham recommends trying play therapy. For example, if she wants to quit ballet, have a play session at home where you are the student and she is the ballet teacher. She says, “Bumble and let her giggle at what a terrible student you are. Seeing someone who just can't do anything right will help her feel better about her own lack of perfection.”
  4. Model perseverance. Let your child see you try, fail, and try again until you master something. Talk about your feelings along the way.

Stand Up for Others

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake.” - MLK Jr.

In a survey of 2,000 US children ages 6-12 released by Highlights for Children (2018 Highlights State of the Kid Survey), most said they would take action if they witnessed an injustice occurring. Most younger children said they would ask an adult for help and most older children said they would step in and try to stop it themselves. The compassion and the desire to do what’s right is there. We just have to teach children how to stand up for themselves and others. 

  1. Have an open conversation about bullying. More than 70% of children have witnessed bullying and nearly 30% have been bullied themselves. Talk about the bullying behaviors your child has witnessed and discuss the importance of intervening when it’s safe to do so or getting the help of an adult. 
  2. Role-play different situations where your child witnesses an injustice and decides to step in. Brainstorm solutions about how to safely and effectively help someone out of a bad situation. 
  3. Be a friend to those in need. Tell your child to be extra kind to the kid who gets bullied at school. Sit with the kid at lunch who always sits alone. Invite lonely kids to play at recess. Even just a kind or encouraging word to one of these hurting kids might be the lifeline they need that day. 
  4. Reach out to new students. It’s always difficult to be the new student. Reaching out and befriending them right away will relieve a lot of anxiety for that child. Ask your child to always put themselves in the other person’s shoes. How would they want to be treated? What would help them feel at ease in a new school?
  5. Stop rumors from spreading. Talk to your child about the importance of not spreading rumors. Play the telephone game where a message is given to the first person in a line of people and whispered to the next person and so on until it reaches the end of the line when the last person announces the message. Most times, the end message is significantly different from the original one. This is a powerful demonstration of how rumors spread and are untrue and unreliable. 
Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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