Parenting using teachable moments is an extremely effective method. Teachable moments are those isolated moments in time that lend themselves to sharing an idea or thought in order to influence another. They are extremely effective because they are directly related to the situation at hand, typically helping the student grasp the concept in a real situation in real time rather than an abstract format.
It has been my experience that teachable moments have the greatest impact on children. Children learn more from doing and seeing than listening or reading.
A large part of my coaching method is through sharing times when I have experienced teachable moments, as both the student during my childhood and the teacher as a parent, grandparent and parenting coach. I find that information is much easier to grasp and understand when it is more personal. People, especially children, relate to other people far more than facts and statistics.
For example, I could provide you with the latest statistics of the negative effects on a child’s school performance who lives in a dysfunctional home. No doubt the numbers would be sobering and give you pause.
However, if I shared with you the story of a child I worked with, Sara, who tested extremely high on an I.Q. test and yet was in jeopardy of failing the 4th grade because of the disruptive, sometimes violent atmosphere in her home, it would have a greater impact on you. Using real situations with real people brings life to the numbers used in statistics.
The same theory applies to parenting our children. Sharing your words and explanations is helpful, but giving them something that relates to them personally will increase the impact and “hit home” as they say.
Let me share with you an example that I frequently share with parents who come to me for coaching.
Because all things begin as a thought, one of the most important things parents can do for their children is to teach them the mind/body connection. Understanding this connection is paramount to helping them understand the power of their thoughts and ultimately their power to choose only positive thoughts.
When my granddaughter, Kaitlyn, was about 4 years old she came to me crying and complaining of a tummy ache. I knew she had been upset earlier in the day about a favorite toy she had misplaced.
Based on a hunch, and after some discussion, I got her to focus on the fact that she was worried about her toy. I asked her to think about how she was feeling. She shared that she was worried she would never find her toy or ever get to play with it again! I asked her to trust me …I convinced her that I was absolutely sure that her toy was in fact somewhere in the house and I was sure we would find it at some point.
Almost immediately she was drying her tears and beginning to smile. I asked her how her tummy was feeling and she said “All better now!”
I saw this as a teachable moment.
While we shared a bowl of ice cream to celebrate her tummy feeling better, I pointed out to her that although her toy was still missing, when her thoughts became “happy” because she knew her toy was not lost forever, her tummy ache had gone away.
This helped her to recognize at a young age how the thoughts in her mind affected her body and that by changing her thoughts she could change how she felt.
Without her realizing it at the time, the law of attraction was at work. When she let go of the negative thought “my toy is gone” and replaced it with the positive thought “my toy is here”, she quickly remembered where she had left her toy and all was well!
As she grew older I continued to encourage her to look at her thoughts when she would complain of physical discomfort. I would ask her to take a moment and examine her thoughts to see if she could find a reason for her physical ailment. Most of the time she was able to zero in on it…it was usually an upset with a friend or stress over a school assignment.
She is almost fourteen now and does this frequently on her own. Her understanding of the power that her thoughts have over how she feels physically has become a part of her.
In contrast, had I simply sat her down and said, “You know Kaitlyn, when we feel bad we can fix that by thinking good thoughts!” she probably would have absorbed a little of what I was saying. However, because it was presented to her while she was in the moment of an experience, she not only heard my words, she felt them and she lived the meaning of the words.
An alert parent can find teachable moments in almost every area of life. It doesn’t take a special skill or talent. Paying attention to what your child is dealing with and then looking for ways to use their actions or thoughts to dig a little deeper or expand a bit more will help them receive the learning experience on a greater level.