teachable-momentsSicily is very hard headed and will deliberately do something I ask her not to with a smile on her face. There are moments during the day where I just want to scream, kick, and yell. I have to stop myself and ask if that will be effective. Will my tantrum be a good example?

Think about it! Some parents yell “no” all day long, and get frustrated when their child doesn’t listen. You grow louder and louder until you just can’t take it any more. It happens to all of us.

Now reverse that, your child gets mad, throws a tantrum, and gets loud. You probably get annoyed right? Well did you set a good example earlier when they didn’t listen? It can be extremely hard to not get angry when your child does something that you’ve told her a hundred times not to do. That’s why today, I’m going to give you a step by step guide to turning those angry moments into teachable moments.

What is a Teachable Moment?

It’s a moment during the day that presents itself to a lesson. Let me give you an example.

I just started a preschool in my home and Sicily is not liking the fact that she has to share her toys with others. She has been hitting, pulling things away, and even trying to bite. I have three options when it comes to this situation.

1.Ignore It- This isn’t going to do anything, but make others upset.

2.Yell “no” or “no hitting”

3.Teach a Lesson

Teachable moments don’t just apply to younger kids. It works for older kids as well. Another example is of a kid who breaks down over homework. Instead of nagging him to keep working or telling him to just put it away, you can take the moment to teach them about perseverance.

Why Look For Teachable Moments?

You may be thinking that it’s going to be hard not to get annoyed or angry during these moments. You’re absolutely right! It’s going to take practice and a conscious thought to make these moments valuable for you and the child.

Many parents teach lessons through lectures, usually at random times when it’s not relevant to the child. You can talk about sharing or persevering all you want, but it may not stick with them because it’s not relevant.  Choosing to teach these lessons in the moment brings value to the lesson because it’s important to them in that moment.

How Do I Identify A Teachable Moment?

This method is not effective if you use it every time you are angry. There are times when a lesson cannot be taught. For example, when your kid keeps asking you to read a book for the tenth time while you are trying to watch TV (happens every night in my house). This is annoying, but it’s not a situation where a teachable moment will work. What am I going to teach? Nothing. In this case, try to redirect the child with another activity or get on the floor to play for a while.

Think about LIFE lessons when you think about teachable moments. I think it’s best to explain how to identify them through examples.

*Your child is upset because you won’t give them a cookie for dinner= teachable moment about healthy eating

*Your child is stealing toys= teachable moment about sharing

*Your child keeps trying to wiggle out of your hand when crossing the street= teachable moment about safety

*Your child keeps touching the taster over (every day over here)= teachable moment about safety

*Your child refuses to clean up his toys= teachable moment about responsibility

Get the picture? These are moments where we can teach LIFE lessons.

So, How Do I Teach This Teachable Moment?

You want to make sure you start with confirming these feelings. Let them know that you understand how they feel before you even begin to teach a lesson. This will build trust and get there attention. You want to explain your why. This is the lesson part. Explaining why you don’t want them to do something helps children see the benefit in what you are telling them. Be simple, to the point, and focus on the lesson at hand. This is not a time for a lecture. Make sure your language is kid friendly and at a level your child can understand. When teaching the same lesson to a 1 year old and 5 year old, you will not use the same language with each of them.

It’s okay if they disagree with you. They may not see the benefit of eating healthy fruits and vegetables instead of cookies for dinner. Invite them to have a conversation to ask questions and discuss the disagreement. Do not force a conversation. Let them choose to have the conversation. It will be more meaningful then.

I want you to be successful with teaching your child through teachable moments, so I’ve put all these steps into an easy step by step guide to have in your hands the next time a teachable moment pops up. I even give you a few sentence starters and examples of sentences to use. Click the picture to download it now.

Teachable moments are not miracle workers! Your child will most likely continue to do that same thing a few more times before it really sinks in, but teaching the lesson a few times is more effective than yelling each time. Keep Growing with Us!