11 Ideals Great Teachers Employ That Also Work for Parents

by Sanya Pelini April 12, 2017

A Teacher Teaching guitar to student

There are at least two ways in which teaching and parenting are similar: Teaching styles and parenting styles both affect social, educational, and psychological outcomes. Both teachers and parents can make or ruin lives. Great teachers can make magic happen. They can make students put their best foot forward. Here are 11 things parents can learn from great teachers:

1 | Quit making excuses for your kids

Protecting our kids comes naturally, but constantly making excuses for them does more harm than good. Evidence suggests that expecting too little from your kids can condemn them to a life of underachievement. Moreover, children are more likely to succeed when parents set great expectations (not too high and not too low). Do your child a favor and banish low expectations. We need to take off our rose-colored glasses when we should.

2 | Go back to the drawing board

One thing every teacher knows is that things don’t always go as planned. You’ll have this great lesson all lined up only to be met with uninterested students who couldn’t care less. This also happens in parenting. Sometimes you’ll try everything and nothing will work. Have a back-up plan. Try something different. Don’t give up.

3 | Parent with a plan

It is only after you become a parent that you discover the advice “you’ll know what to do” isn’t always true. The parenting journey has its fair share of hard lessons. Half the time, you have no clue as to how you ought to react, and the other half you’re busy “putting out fires.” A great teacher has a plan about what she wants to achieve. She has clear objectives. She teaches in a way that reflects those objectives. Don’t let your parenting style be guided by external forces. Consciously decide on what parenting means for you, and parent in a way that reflects those values.

4 | Create a sense of belonging

Everyone yearns for a sense of belonging. Children behave better when they feel that they matter and their opinions and feelings matter. Much evidence suggests that children raised by democratic parents perform better academically and are less prone to turn to socially destructive behavior such as drug abuse. Identify your non-negotiables, and be willing to negotiate on the rest. Families in which negotiation is common are more likely to enjoy positive parent-child relationships. One study suggests the children in these families are more likely to be better behaved than in families where parents are permissive or authoritarian. Show your child respect. Listen from the heart.

5 | Fill up your “effective discipline toolbox”

There’s no one way to effectively discipline kids. An approach that works with one kid can fail miserably with another, so find your discipline technique. Discipline, rather than punish, your children. Some studies have found that raising children in punitive environments (harsh verbal and corporal punishment) can lead to lower confidence, drug abuse, and lower social and academic competence.

6 | Walk the talk

As Bandura’s studies have shown, children learn by watching and imitating specific behavior from those they consider to be their models. Children, especially young ones, primarily learn by watching their parents. Be the parent you want your child to be. If you want your son to be respectful, show him respect. If you want your daughter to start saving, let her see you save. If you want your children to adopt voluntary simplicity, get rid of all the stuff you no longer need.

7 | Move closer

Every teacher knows that the quickest and most foolproof way to get misbehaving kids to behave is to move closer. This works just as well when it comes to parenting. Moving closer and getting to your child’s eye level can do wonders for your parenting:
  • It can put an end to constantly having to repeat yourself
  • It can make you yell less
  • It can restore your sanity
The next time you’re about to lose it because your kids are not listening or are acting out, move closer. You’ll thank me later.

8 | Allow your kid to fail

Failure is one of life’s greatest lessons. It teaches kids about resilience. It builds character. It teaches them about life. Don’t praise underachievement. There is proof that in so doing, you could lead your child to associated praise with failure. Instead, turn failure into a teaching moment. Focus on the effort. Sharing stories of people who encountered failures before finally succeeding can help you teach your child the importance of persistence.

9 | “Put on your own oxygen mask first”

Parenting is tough and it’s messy. Sometimes you have to deal with issues from your childhood, unwanted advice, criticism from others, and your own fears of being inadequate or not quite good enough. Other times you’re tired, frustrated, thinking of the million things you have to do and feel ready to quit parenting, even for a few minutes. The biggest difference between being a teacher and being a parent is that a teacher can quit when she’s had it. You can’t. Parenting is tough and will be tougher if you lose yourself. So take time for you. Command respect. Put yourself on your agenda.

10 | Quit rescuing your kids

Ever since Dewey’s learning by doing theory, child development specialists the world over agree that children learn best when they are active. They learn better when they learn from their mistakes. Their confidence increases when they participate in decision-making. Be conscious of age-appropriate activities your child can do. Avoid doing things she is capable of doing herself. Create environments that foster your child’s independence. Encourage her to make decisions.

11 | Don’t forget that kids will be kids

Kids will be kids and will do things kids are supposed to do. Trying to make them “grow faster” or “be more adult” can have destructive consequences. Be willing to cut your kids some slack, except when they’re hurting themselves or hurting others.

Sanya Pelini


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