Passing on Good Habits to Children Is More Valuable Than Leaving Them Material Wealth

Young married couple with their toddler.

Instead of material wealth, it is better for parents to leave their children a wealth of knowledge, skills, values, and experiences that will help them succeed and thrive. (Image: Raycan via Dreamstime)

As parents, we need to remember that instead of leaving our children a fortune, we need to help them develop good habits from an early age.

Here is a story that illustrates the point:

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There were three fathers who frequently visited the temple to pray for their sons. After a long time, they moved the Bodhisattva. The Bodhisattva allowed each of them to choose one item from many treasures as a gift for their own son.

The first father chose a silver bowl studded with gems, the second father chose a horse-drawn carriage trimmed with gold, and the third father chose an iron-forged bow and a set of arrows.

As a result, the son who received the silver bowl was fond of feasting every day; the son who received the carriage liked to show off in the marketplace; and the son who received the bow and arrows spent his days hunting in the mountains.

A stack of gold coins sits next to a model of a 3 story house.
Nothing worth having comes easy, so when people get something without working for it, they often just squander it away. (Image: Anatoly Tiplyashin via Dreamstime)

Years later, the three fathers died. The son who was fond of feasting depleted his wealth, sold the jewels from the silver bowl, and then had to use it to beg for food. The son who loved to show off had to strip the gold from the carriage bit by bit to exchange for food and struggled to get by.

The son who spent his days hunting had developed his skills, often bringing back game, thus providing food and clothing for his family.

The moral of this folk tale is simple and profound. As parents, we are not being responsible to our children if we leave them with only expendable wealth. We are only truly responsible for them if we leave them with a wealth of knowledge, skills, values, and experiences that will help them succeed and thrive.

So what are the good habits that parents should help their children develop?


People who have a plan are more trustworthy and won’t have to scramble to solve problems at the last minute. Some children are disorganized and always struggle to get things done. They have trouble getting their homework done and studying for exams. They often have trouble finding their socks when they get up for school in the morning, and they don’t have any pocket money left at the end of the month. When a child has bad habits in this area, parents must teach them the importance of planning.

Why not have your child sort out his or her schedule for the next day before bedtime and have him or her write it down on a sticky note for easy implementation?

Why not have your child sort out his or her schedule for the next day before bedtime and have him or her write it down?
Why not have your child sort out his or her schedule for the next day before bedtime and have him or her write it down? (Image: Psisaa via Dreamstime)

This is a good habit that will benefit your child for life!

Being polite

Everyone loves to see a smiling face. People who greet others with a smile are always sincere, friendly, and generous, and they will be welcomed everywhere they go. Parents should teach their children to be polite, such as by saying “hello”, “thank you” and “excuse me” in daily life, while showing more concern for others. Over the years, children will reap a richer, more fulfilling reward than mere politeness.

Doing it themselves

Before children can learn how to take care of themselves, parents need to let go. Especially when your children enter primary school, it is important to stop doing things like waking them up, tidying up their room, and packing their school bag for them. Leaving these things for them to do will help children develop self-reliance and confidence. Children should be given opportunities to try new things and make mistakes. You may be surprised to find that your children are capable of more than you can imagine!

Don’t take other people’s things

Help your child to develop a sense of property rights and to distinguish between self and others. Tell your child: “You can have control of your own things, but you can’t take other people’s things. If you want something that belongs to another person, you must ask if they are willing to let you see it, and then you must return it to them once you’re done looking at it or when they ask for it back.”

Some children may sneak money from adults to buy things, and when they see other students’ toys, they may take them home “conveniently.” This is the result of children’s lack of awareness of property rights, and mothers and fathers need to help their children take responsibility.

Parents need to teach their children not to take other people's things.
Parents need to teach their children not to take other people’s things. (Image: Larisa Kapustkina via Dreamstime)

Use time wisely

A reasonable life arrangement and regular sleep schedule can enhance a child’s sense of order and help them in developing an awareness of the passage of time, being aware of deadlines, and understanding the importance of punctuality and efficiency. But teaching a child to use time wisely is not an easy task. Parents serve as role models, so they can try to give the child some initiative by telling them: “Turn off the TV and do homework in 10 minutes” or “Get up in 20 minutes after napping.” Slowly, the child will not find excuses for being lazy.

Learn from others

Look for the good in others and learn from them. Tell your child: “Everyone has something that shines in them, and we should look at their strong points and ask if we can be like that, too.” It is extremely important to have a humble attitude while doing this.

Reflect on your mistakes

It is common for children to do something wrong or make mistakes in life or school. Avoiding the next mistake requires that children reflect on what they did wrong so that they can correct themselves completely. When your child makes a mistake, please don’t just blame them. Instead, ask: “Do you know what you did wrong?” When the child answers, make a plan to avoid making the same mistake again in the future by saying: “Let’s remember this lesson next time and don’t do it again, okay?” This process of reflection helps the child to identify and correct their mistakes, avoid repeating them, and build a strong foundation of knowledge over time.

Translated by Audrey Wang

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