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10 Lessons from Our Childhood Cartoons

by Shirley Erasmus

When we were younger and watched your childhood cartoons on TV, the little animated companions didn’t just entertain. They taught us things. Here are 10 lessons from our childhood cartoons.

Growing up is tough, full of challenges and trials. As a kid, I had a list as long as my arm of my favourite cartoons. While television time was limited (the dreaded square-eye-syndrome), I cherished Saturday mornings, eating cereal and watching my favourite cartoon characters defeating monsters, scheming and learning tough lessons – lessons that I learned too.

Here are some basic life lessons my own little animated friends taught me and many other ’90s kids.

1. Being a mean person will get you nowhere.

childhood cartoons

Case in point is Angelica from The Rugrats, or Helga from Hey Arnold! who demonstrate exactly how to be friendless, bitter people. These cartoon characters showed us that being a bully will get you nowhere in life. This still rings true, even when we are adults.

2. It’s okay to be a nerd.

childhood cartoons

If there is anyone who demonstrated that having a smart side is okay, it’s Dexter. How he managed to keep that secret lab hidden from his parents, we’ll never know, but what we do know, is that this tiny brainiac taught us that science is cool and it’s awesome to be a nerd.

3. Have a little ‘Courage.’


courage the cowardly dog

Courage the Cowardly Dog taught us that being afraid is normal (though perhaps extreme in Courage’s case). His adventures on the farm with his owners Muriel and Eustace remind us that we can do anything for the people we love, even if we’re afraid at first.

4. If you fail, keep trying.

childhood cartoons

While watching Loony Tunes, like the adventures of Tom & Jerry, or Wile E. Coyote’s desperate attempts to outsmart Roadrunner, we learned that failure is merely another stepping stone to success, and that failure is not a bad thing .

The key is to persist until you succeed. Tom may not always have outsmarted Jerry, but his perseverance taught us that if we keep pursuing our dreams and goals without giving up, we can eventually reach our dreams. In fact, Wile E. Coyote finally catches the fast Roadrunner in the last episode. If that’s not proof that perseverance is key, I don’t know what is.

5. Money is valuable.

childhood cartoons

Ed, Edd and Eddie definitely knew this from an early age. Their entrepreneurial pursuits to make money for ‘gobsmackers,’ and their desire for fame and fortune in the neighborhood taught us that money is valuable and we ought to save what money we had.

Eddy, the ‘brains’ of the group may have been small, but he had big ideas which sometimes paid off and allowed the boys to get to those elusive jaw-breaker candies their hearts so desired.

While indeed we learned that money is valuable, the opposite end of the spectrum is Mr Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants whose love of money is a little too obsessive.

6. Girls are just as strong as boys.

childhood cartoons

I don’t know a single girl who didn’t love The Powerpuff Girls. Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup exhibited traits we all have. While they regularly saved the city of Townsville from evil villans, they showed us that girls can be just as brave, as daring, and as powerful as boys.

That’s not say that boys can’t have a soft side either! Arnold from Hey Arnold! taught us that it’s okay to have an emotional side too.

7. Family is important.

childhood cartoons

This is what we learned from the two strange siblings Cow and Chicken, and their human parents. Chicken was always on the lookout for his younger sister Cow as they navigated school, as well as the schemes of a scary-looking devil who tried to make their lives miserable.

8. Be confident, but not too confident.

childhood cartoons

The famous karate-chopping, big haired Johnny Bravo taught us that it takes a little more than good looks to impress people. Johnny was convinced that every woman would be wooed by his charms (even though they usually weren’t!). He taught us to be confident and love ourselves, while his regular rejections taught us that rejection is a part of life.

9. Friends will get you through anything.

childhood cartoons

Look at Scooby Doo and his group of friends: Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy. Their friendship taught us that with our friends we can take on anything in life, no matter how scary it may seem.

10. Positivity is important.

childhood cartoons

Spongebob Squarepants is the most cheerful creature living in a giant pineapple in Bikini Bottom at the bottom of the ocean. His positivity radiates throughout the Krusty Krab where he works as a fry cook. What he taught us is that positivity is the key to a happy life, even if an overly positive optimistic attitude drives some people around us crazy.

Who would have guessed that our beloved cartoons were teaching us such valuable life lessons? What more reason do you need to get nostalgic and watch a few of your most memorable cartoon shows?

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There is a lesson to be learned from everything you do in life, even the things you think aren’t important. Take some lessons from our favourite childhood cartoons about how to live your life with as much positivity as Spongebob, as much perseverance as Coyote and as many friends as Scooby Doo.


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