Quotes for teens on life lessons

Quote for teens- 'just because you can doesn't mean you should'

"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

-- Anonymous

Life is about relationships—at home, at work, in your community. And relationships require give and take. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it’s fair or kind or honest or responsible.

You could use your age, size and wickedly clever mind to fleece those naïve eight-year-olds out of their lemonade-stand money. But should you?

You could pile your four best friends and a slobbery Saint Bernard into your grandma’s Mini Cooper for an epic road trip. But should you?

There are plenty of things you might be able to get away with, but at what cost to your relationships or your sense of self? Be the kind of person you’d like to see looking back at you.

Teaching resources

Bring this quote into your classroom with a lesson guide and activities that are ready to use.

Quote Overview / Description

Quote on personal responsibility and respect

This quote is about taking personal responsibility and treating others with respect, kindness, and fairness. As teens grow up, they may discover that they have more strength, more intellectual ability, more cunning, more boldness than others. They may be more internet or technology savvy. All of those qualities can be great assets, or they can be used to take advantage of people.

Choose to do the right thing

Choices about doing what's right and finding a way both parties win (Win-Win) grow over time. For example

  • The big sister who can con her little brother out of his dessert
  • The teen who can hack the technology controls her parent puts on her devices
  • The person who can see his elderly neighbor doesn’t quite keep up with what’s going
  • The businessman who has a decision to make about prioritizing either profits or workforce safety

In any situation, people have a choice about how they want to use their abilities. They can use them for good. They can use them for a win-win in which both parties walk away feeling they have some benefit and some fairness. Or they can use them to take advantage of people. Whether it is small deceptions, outright misleading lies, or disregard for possibly negative impact, taking advantage is hurtful to others, and ultimately hurtful to the person choosing to take advantage.

Build a conscience

This quote is a reminder that at the end of the day, your conscience will help you know whether you have made choices you can be proud of. Self esteem and self respect grow when relationships are fair and healthy. (By the way, for those who feel good taking advantage of people, try the quote, "You be you, unless you're a jerk.")

Discussion questions / Writing Prompts

Questions to prompt discussion, journaling, essays for high school health class and social emotional development lessons:

  1. What are some examples from real life for "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
  2. Have you ever felt like someone took advantage of you? How did that feel? How did that impact your approach to others?
  3. Have you ever done something that was great for you, but later realized it wasn’t that fair or kind to someone else? Should you have handled it differently?



Activities and worksheets for teen SEL / high school health and wellness lessons:

  1. Just because you can... Journaling Prompt- Students explore how decisions impact relationships and sense of self.
  2. Choices and Consequences Movie Scene Worksheet In this activity, students write a movie scene showing choices and how consequences cause benefit or harm.
  3. Choices and Benefits Worksheet- Students see that making good choices helps them reach goals, have better relationships, improve self esteem.
  4. Connecting Choices and Consequences Worksheet- Students see the connection between choices and how the consequences feel in the long run.
  5. Current Events Activity- Choose a current event in which someone emphasized winning, self-interest, profits or another achievement over the impact their actions would have on others. Ethically, was it right? Was it necessary? Was there a different way to approach the situation?
  6. Fairness in the Community- Choose a current or historic event in which a consumer, citizen, or community felt it was not being treated fairly. What actions did they take? Were the actions fair and just? What result did they get?

Coloring Pages

Download printable coloring pages for a mindfulness activity that features this quote.

  1. Dragon Shop coloring page

Curriculum Topics

High School Health Class / Social Emotional Development Core Curriculum Alignment:

  • Healthy decision making and taking personal responsibility, results/consequences
  • Evaluating and reducing risk
  • Recognizing the connection between personal, family, and community health
  • Self-awareness and control
  • Perspectives of others
  • Carry out social and personal responsibility appropriately


  • Relationships depend on both parties treating the other with respect and fairness
  • Self esteem and self respect are rooted in making decisions that align with your sense of what is right and good
  • Consider other perspectives as you evaluate risk

Character Traits/Values

  • Honesty, Trustworthiness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Empathy
  • Conscience
  • Fairness

The quote and opening paragraph of this page are an excerpt from the Book, Truth Be Told Quotes: Teen Edition. Presented with permission from the author, Colleen Doyle Bryant. ©LoveWell Press. Find the print and ebook versions of Truth Be Told Quotes on the Shop page.

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Colleen Doyle Bryant

Colleen Doyle Bryant is the author of five books and more than 50 learning resources about making good choices for the right reasons. Her Talking with Trees series for elementary students and Truth Be Told Quotes series for teens are used in curriculums around the world. Rooted in Decency, Colleen's latest release for an adult audience, explores what happened to common decency and how we can get to a place of more cooperation and kindness. Learn more at ColleenDoyleBryant.com.

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