15 Chinese Proverbs to Teach Values to Children

Chinese proverbs are full of wisdom and tools that will help us teach our children important values. Keep reading!
15 Chinese Proverbs to Teach Values to Children
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 22 April, 2024

Just as in Western culture, we have proverbs that are full of wisdom, in Eastern philosophy, there are also proverbs that hold valuable lessons. Therefore, we can use Chinese proverbs to teach values to our children. These phrases invite us to reflect and can become a guide for life.

In Chinese culture, great importance is given to the distribution, decoration, and orientation of the spaces where daily life takes place. The objective is to seek the balance of people’s vital energy. If you want to know some of the Chinese proverbs that can help you teach important values to your children, you shouldn’t miss the following article.

Write down these Chinese proverbs to teach values to your children

Some of these phrases are several centuries old, and in them lies a great philosophy. We can use Chinese proverbs to educate children about values and help them reflect. These lessons will also be a good guide to apply throughout their lives.

1. “From the blackest clouds falls the cleanest water”

Even though we may encounter some bad experiences, we can always learn something positive from them.

2. “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”

This phrase invites us to reflect on the overprotection that many parents practice when it comes to their children. Many times, we do everything for them and don’t let them learn. On the contrary, we have to teach our children to be able to manage on their own and to solve problems by themselves. This is the only way to raise resolute and independent people.

3. “It takes ten years for a tree to grow up, but it takes a hundred for talents to be nurtured”

With this proverb, we teach our children that all learning takes time and can’t be obtained overnight. Rather, it takes place little by little.

4. “Opportunities don’t happen, you create them”

It’s key to teach our children to work and strive to get what they want or desire. This means that they shouldn’t wait for good things to come by on their own because that way, they’ll never come.

An Asian father lying on the floor reading to his young son and daughter while their mother sits on the couch in the background drinking tea.
Chinese culture is very given to deep reflections on life. Therefore, it can provide valuable lessons for young and old.

5. “Great souls have wills; feeble ones have only wishes”

It’s very important that we give ourselves the opportunity to dream, but it’s even more important that we fight for those dreams. This phrase helps us to push our children to be persistent when they want to achieve their goals.

6. “The master teaches the trade, but the perfection of the apprentice’s skill depends on his own efforts”

This means that, although the master is very important when teaching, it’s even more important to put into practice what we’re taught. Working hard and with effort is the key to improvement.

7. “Before being a dragon, you have to suffer like an ant”

We always start from the bottom, so we can’t expect to reach the top all at once. Through experience, practice, and learning, we’ll be prepared to advance. Therefore, we can always keep improving until we become what we want to be.

More Chinese proverbs to teach important values to our children

8. “Doing good is the greatest source of happiness”

This proverb is very important for children to know that it’s essential to be kind to others. If we do good to others, we also do good to ourselves.

9. “Don’t boast when you start your journey, boast when you return”

Starting the journey is always easy; the hard part is getting to the end and returning. This is a phrase with a great lesson for our children to keep them from being boastful, especially when they have no reason to do so. Humility is one of the values that makes people great.

10. “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop”

Each person is different, and each of us has a unique learning pace. In this regard, the important thing is not to be fast but to learn successfully, even if it takes you longer than you expected.

11. “Pay as much attention to your inner self as you pay to your image”

The exterior of a person is only a façade. The true essence is on the inside. Most of the time, we don’t pay attention to what we have inside, and we worry too much about what others see on the outside. Let’s work with our children to cultivate their inner selves, as this is more important than their external image.

A small Asian girl hugging and older Asian boy in a forest.
It’s important that we educate our children in values so that today and tomorrow, they’ll be good people. In this regard, Chinese proverbs can be a great way to teach values to our children.

12. “The best revenge is to be unlike he who performed the injury”

If someone has hurt you, we must teach our children that they shouldn’t act in the same way that person who offended them did. On the contrary, they should pay them back in a way they don’t expect, for example, by ignoring them. In this way, they can be proud because they didn’t fall into the temptation of hurting the other person back.

13. “When you drink water, think of the source”

This proverb teaches us the value of gratitude. We should never forget who we are or each of the people who have helped us on our path. Remembering and thanking those who once reached out to us makes us great people.

14. “Fall down seven times, stand up eight”

This phrase refers to the value of effort and perseverance. In this way, no obstacle can stop us from advancing on our path. Whenever we encounter adversity, we have to believe in ourselves and move forward.

15. “Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to dig a well”

Prudence is another one of the values we must teach our little ones, as it’s one of the most valuable. Whenever we can, we should anticipate our needs, be prudent, and prepare for what may happen. That way, when the time comes, or difficulty arises, we’ll be prepared to face it and come out successful.

Values to teach your children to be better in life

These Chinese proverbs are full of wisdom and tools that will help us and our children to be better in life. Thanks to them, we can teach values such as gratitude, humility, perseverance, effort, perseverance and kindness, among others.

All work has its reward sooner or later. Therefore, we must be responsible parents and concern ourselves with our children’s education. If we get involved in it, our children will become great people of whom we can be very proud.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Albertario, A., & Feslikeniau, F. (2012). Proverbios chinos para meditar. Parkstone International.
  • Martín-Mora Flores, A. (2016). Proverbios chinos y su traducción.
  • Pineiro, J. (1977). Los mejores proverbios chinos. Editions Bruguera.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.