Teaching Children about the Golden Rule

Teaching the Golden Rule to Children

By Vicki Cole

The Golden Rule is a must lesson for little kids. Even if parents never mention it by name, they have probably been teaching the Golden Rule to their children all along. Every request to share, to think of other’s feelings, to obey adults, to be kind — is asking children “to do unto others” as they would like to have done to them in kind.

This rule of God is not just an ideal for Christians: it is a universal principle that has been glimpsed by every great religious leader or prophet. Think what a wonderful world it would be if every one of every religion practiced the Golden Rule all the time!

Years ago, I cut an article out of a local paper during the Christmas season. It had no author listed, but was a compilation of the expressions of the world’s great religions that are similar to the Golden Rule.  It is impressive to see how universally this “Golden Rule” — this great spiritual law — is acknowledged:

BAHAIISM: “If thou lookest toward justice, choose then for others what thou choosest for thyself. Blessed is he who prefers his brother before himself.”

BRAHMANISM: “This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.”

BUDDHISM: “In five ways should a clansman minister to his friends and familiars:
By generosity, courtesy and benevolence, treating them as he treats himself and by
being as good as his word.”

CHRISTIANITY: “All things whatsover you would that men should do to you, do you even to them: For this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

CONFUCIANISM: “Is there one word which may serve as a rule to practice for all one’s life? The Master said, ‘Is not reciprocity (sympathy, consideration) such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not unto others.'”

HINDUISM: “The lifegiving breaths of other creatures are as dear to them as the breaths of one’s own self. Men gifted with intelligence and purified souls should always treat others as they themselves wish to be treated.”

ISLAM: “No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

JAINISM: “Indifferent to worldly objects, a man should wander about, treating all
creatures in the world as he himself would be treated.”

JUDAISM: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

SIKHISM: “As thou deemest thyself, so deem others; then shalt thou become a
partner in Heaven.”

SHINTOISM: “Irrespective of their nationality, language, manners and culture, men
should give mutual aid, and enjoy reciprocal, peaceful pleasure by showing in their
conduct that they are brethren.”

TAOISM: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and regard your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.”

ZOROASTRIANISM: “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself.”

(End of Original Newspaper article)


To the above list, I now add Christian Science, which also includes the demand that we practice the Christian Golden Rule in our daily life. As Jesus taught us, we are to go out of our way to be kind, generous, merciful, just, and helpful to others, no matter how they may have been treating us. And, because Christian Science is expressed by right thinking, it is also important that our thoughts express the Golden Rule, even if no one can see what we are thinking. So, here is a possible metaphysical way to consider the Golden Rule, which would incorporate the spirit of the Beatitudes:

“THINK about others as we would have them THINK about us”!

The Golden Rule is a fairly easy concept to teach to children. It is a need that comes up daily, and can be discussed then and there. Of course, after reminding them of the Golden Rule, many kids caught in a situation will respond along the lines of: “Well, HE did it to me FIRST!” To them, that is only fair! The idea of being a merciful Christian is not always easy for children, who can so easily detect actions that are not fair. So be patient. After all, the important thing for parents is practicing the Golden Rule themselves, and setting a good example for children and others who may be watching.

Below are citations from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, and author of its textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. These citations will illustrate the importance of the Golden Rule in the teachings and practice of Christian Science, and offer some talking points or reading material when teaching Sunday School [the underline is mine].

“The First Commandment of the Hebrew Decalogue, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me,’ and the Golden Rule are the all-in-all of Christian Science. They are the spiritual idealism and realism which, when realized, constitute a Christian Scientist, heal the sick, reform the sinner, and rob the grave of its victory.” (My. 5)

“Christian Science teaches: Owe no man; be temperate; abstain from alcohol and tobacco; be honest, just, and pure; cast out evil and heal the sick; in short, Do unto others as ye would have others do to you.” (My. 114)

“I counsel Christian Scientists under all circumstances to obey the Golden Rule, and to adopt Pope’s axiom: ‘An honest, sensible, and well-bred man will not insult me, and no other can.'” (’01 30)

“The God-inspired walk calmly on though it be with bleeding footprints, and in the hereafter they will reap what they now sow. The pampered hypocrite may have a flowery pathway here, but he cannot forever break the Golden Rule and escape the penalty due.” (S&H pg 41)

“We should love our enemies and help them on the basis of the Golden Rule; but avoid casting pearls before those who trample them under foot, thereby robbing both themselves and others.” (S&H pg 234)

“The use of the rod is virtually a declaration to the child’s mind that sensation belongs to matter. Motives govern acts, and Mind governs man. If you make clear to the child’s thought the right motives for action, and cause him to love them, they will lead him aright: if you educate him to love God, good, and obey the Golden Rule, he will love and obey you without your having to resort to corporeal punishment.” (Mis. 51)

“When, by losing his faith in matter and sin, one finds the spirit of Truth, then he practises the Golden Rule spontaneously; and obedience to this rule spiritualizes man, for the world’s nolens volens cannot enthrall it. Lust, dishonesty, sin, disable the student; they preclude the practice or efficient teaching of Christian Science, the truth of man’s being. (My. 4)

“When asked by a wife or a husband important questions concerning their happiness, the substance of my reply is: God will guide you. Be faithful over home relations; they lead to higher joys: obey the Golden Rule for human life, and it will spare you much bitterness. It is pleasanter to do right than wrong; it makes one ruler over one’s self and hallows home, — which is woman’s world. Please your husband, and he will be apt to please you; preserve affection on both sides.” (Mis. 287)

Forgetting the Golden Rule and indulging sin, men cannot serve God; they cannot demonstrate the omnipotence of divine Mind that heals the sick and the sinner. Human will may mesmerize and mislead man; divine wisdom, never.” (My 5)

“Watch your thoughts, and see whether they lead you to God and into harmony with His true followers. Guard and strengthen your own citadel more strongly. Thus you will grow wiser and better through every attack of your foe, and the Golden Rule will not rust for lack of use . . .”
(Mis. 213)

“The Constitution of the United States does not provide that materia medica shall make laws to regulate man’s religion; rather does it imply that religion shall permeate our laws. Mankind will be God-governed in proportion as God’s government becomes apparent, the Golden Rule utilized, and the rights of man and the liberty of conscience held sacred. Meanwhile, they who name the name of Christian Science will assist in the holding of crime in check, will aid the ejection of error, will maintain law and order, and will cheerfully await the end — justice and judgment.” (My. 222)

“To my sense, the most imminent dangers confronting the coming century are: the robbing of people of life and liberty under the warrant of the Scriptures; the claims of politics and of human power, industrial slavery, and insufficient freedom of honest competition; and ritual, creed, and trusts in place of the Golden Rule, ‘Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.'” (From a comment by Mary Baker Eddy requested by the “New York World,” December 1900, reprinted in My. pg 266)

Rest assured that the good you do unto others you do to yourselves as well, and the wrong you may commit must, will, rebound upon you. The entire purpose of true education is to make one not only know the truth but live it — to make one enjoy doing right, make one not work in the sunshine and run away in the storm, but work midst clouds of wrong, injustice, envy, hate; and wait on God, the strong deliverer, who will reward righteousness and punish iniquity. ‘As thy days, so shall thy strength be.'” (My 252)

“Our watchwords are Truth and Love; and if we abide in these, they will abound in us, and we shall be one in heart, — one in motive, purpose, pursuit. Abiding in Love, not one of you can be separated from me; and the sweet sense of journeying on together, doing unto others as ye would they should do unto you, conquers all opposition, surmounts all obstacles, and secures success. If you falter, or fail to fulfil this Golden Rule, though you should build to the heavens, you would build on sand.” (Mis. 135)

“Through the wholesome chastisements of Love, nations are helped onward towards justice, righteousness, and peace, which are the landmarks of prosperity. In order to apprehend more, we must practise what we already know of the Golden Rule, which is to all mankind a light emitting light.” (My. 282)

“And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.” (S&H 497)

Copyright 2001; 2010  Vicki Jones Cole


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