During a family reunion, my sisters and I (all with different family sizes) got into a discussion about what we should teach our children before they turn eight years old. What do you think is important to teach a child (or at least start a conversation about) before they’re eight? Here’s our shortlist:

1. Teach them about their bodies.

How they work and how they will work. How to love and appreciate their body instead of having a negative body image.

2. Teach them to be healthy.

Teach them the importance of eating well (but not being obsessive), and to exercise to get stronger and feel healthy, not just to look a certain way.

3. Teach them how to enjoy reading. 

An early love of reading opens up a world of possibilities and enjoyment that will serve them throughout their entire lives.

4. Teach them how to be a good friend.

Teach them the importance of loyalty, inclusion, and how to build others up.

5. Teach them to accept others.

And that religion, skin color, socioeconomic status, and popularity don’t determine a person’s worth (including their own). We can get along with and be kind to people who make different choices than we do.

6. Teach them their relationship with God.

Teach them how God sees them, and that it matters more than how others see them. Teach them how to speak to God and how He speaks to them.

7. Teach them not to accept labels.

My sisters and I talked about the labels we feel we were given from others (and even ourselves) as we grew up: Not a good singer/dancer, skinny, chubby, not good at sports, etc. We don’t want to label our children or encourage them to label themselves and others, especially at such a young age.

8. Teach them that happiness is a choice.

We control our attitudes and reactions. Our circumstances and the way others act towards us don’t have to make us be sulky, mad, or inferior.

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