The One Subject You Really Need to Study: Your Own Childhood

Our schools teach us about trigonometry, the 100 years war and the properties of atoms – but they too often forget to address the one topic we really need to understand in order to make sense of our lives: ourselves.
Sign up to our new newsletter and get 10% off your first online order of a book, product or class:
For gifts and more from The School of Life, visit our online shop:
Our website has classes, articles and products to help you lead a more fulfilled life:


You can read more on this and other subjects on our blog, here:

“There is perhaps no greater priority in childhood than to acquire an education: it’s in the early years that we have to push ourselves with special vigour to learn the lessons, and acquire the experience, that will help us successfully manoeuvre around the pitfalls of adult life. By studying hard and intelligently, we’ll have the best chance of avoiding a middle-age of confusion and resignation, regret and sorrow. The clue to a successful adult life – we’re repeatedly told – lies in childhood education…”


Visit us in person at our London HQ:

Watch more films on SELF in our playlist:

You can submit translations and transcripts on all of our videos here:
Find out how more here:


Feel free to follow us at the links below:



Produced in collaboration with:
Gabriella Marsh

Title animation produced in collaboration with

Vale Productions


30 thoughts on “The One Subject You Really Need to Study: Your Own Childhood”

  1. All people who intend to become parents should first obtain a kind of paternity leave. This license should be granted by highly competent people. These extremely competent people should be part of a ministry called the Ministry of Family Welfare. Someone could counter-argue: well, many people who get their driver's license are later involved in traffic
    accidents. This is true, but at least in this way there are fewer traffic accidents.

    (Oh gosh, and if the people involved in traffic accidents are the alcoholic children of the competent people I talked about before !?)

  2. This channel is so important!! For anyone who wish to understand their childhood better I highly recommend Alice Millers book The drama of the gifted child (it's even available here on youtube as an audio book)

  3. The only thing I can remember from my childhood is a lot of yelling and fighting between my parents, an older sister who ran away effectivelly leaving me behind to "deal with it", and my dad blaming me for things outside of my control/responsibility (I was 7-9 yrs old and I guess to him, I needed to sort out the bills and made sure the sun was out or else…)

    Worst was during the custody battle where I can only describe my experence through it as something like being caught in the middle of a war but with both sides (my parents) claiming they are the heroes, and the other the villian while simultaniously striking me in the head with the butt of their guns (metaphorically speaking but the emotional impact might as well been the same as brute force).

    I had no support through all that and when I got into middle-high school, I had to deal with bullies, two-faced friends, and even more unsupportive family.

    I'm doing fine now I guess, but I still have many issues to this day and it does make me feel like sometimes, the only thing that has change from then and now is just the cars and technology around me, but everyone is the same.

    I guess the only diffrence I can see, is that it can be better. It just a matter of finding the right people. A challange that hasn't changed since 1998.

  4. I don't think my life will lead me to a middle age of regret, I know it will, regardless of the effort put in. I'll have to study intensively and put consistent effort into changing what I am now: a broken, immature, unintelligent young adult for several years, or even decades, into someone capable of living a happy and fulfilled life. But by then, it will be too late. I will already be at or have passed my middle age, the potential I could have held as a child to be something extraordinary ruined by a childhood spent unfocused and self-sabotaging.

    When it comes to that, death is the only solution. Not because I feel overwhelmed by negativity, but because I am fully aware of how much a lost cause this life is, destined to mediocrity at best. A life I do not want to experience, and holds no conceivable joy.

  5. I recommend a book called "Homecoming" by John Bradshaw. It gets much deeper into childhood traumas and also has a lot of exercises to help with introspection and most importantly, developing and building a relationship with yourself and your inner children. The work is long and hard but it is very rewarding and has massively changed my life.

  6. I've unconsciously been looking for ME over the last couple of months. Examining things i say, do and think and my search led me back to my childhood and relationship with my parents. Amazing

  7. My god!
    The animation in this video is horrible and really distracting!
    I had never had an issue with that in any previous video.
    Please diverge from that in the future.

  8. I've been slowly realising how insane and emotionally void my own mom is, and how manipulative and possibly codependent/narcissistic she's been for many years. It's incredible how we don't even notice the abuse because it's our normal. You believe you're what's wrong in the family and that you're the insane one until you grow up and start reflecting on the many occasions you've felt unloved.

  9. As a child i lived in more than one place and constantly moved around and dealt with strange circumstances lights in the dark in Mexico at night gunshots dad mysteriously going blind and getting violent drugs parties playing in a band and idk what it taught me other than my lifes not as great as i thought

  10. My children don't do school… The education system at least here in the UK isn't all that, infact it seems to me that it's priority is to get children to conform to society.. Do this, wear that, don't think outside the box… So when they become adults they can fit nicely into the world of people that.. Well don't really get anywhere, don't think outside the box.. And don't break the rules..
    This isn't life.

  11. I’m 60 and I don’t even know what/why the fuck I’m doing here much less caring enough to think about or exam in my childhood….

    I remember thinking at the airport yesterday everybody walking around as if this life is normal and not giving a scant thought about what was before or what may be here after……

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *