When you come right down to it, teaching and parenting have very similar objectives : They both affect the social, educational, and psychological development of your child and have a great impact on the kind of person he/she becomes. Teachers can ruin kids’ lives, so can parents. Great teachers can make even the child with the greatest self-doubts believe that she is capable of great things. But there is nothing magical in the tactics great teachers use to make kids believe in themselves.
Here are 11 things we can all learn about parenting from great teachers.
1 | Great teachers do not make excuses for kids
You cannot help your child move forward if you keep making excuses for his behavior, that’s just the way it is. Wanting to protect our kids comes naturally but it actually does them more harm than good, and there is evidence to prove that. Great teachers know that expecting less from kids than what they are capable of may condemn them to a life of underachievement.
Instead of making excuses for your child, do him a favor by banishing low expectations. Set “great expectations” – make sure your child knows what is expected of him but be sure to set expectations in line with his level of development and his actual capacities.
2 | Great teachers have a plan B, and even a plan C
Great teachers all know that things do not always go as planned. Parents know that too! Your kid will not necessarily love the activity you’ve spent days or even months planning, and she won’t even bother to try hiding it. Strategies that worked in the past will suddenly stop working. Sometimes everything you try will fail.
Take a tip from great teachers and have a back-up plan. If things aren’t working the way you want them to, try something different.
3 | Great teachers have a master plan
Parenting seems much easier BEFORE you actually have kids. It is only after the kids come that you discover that parenting is hard work! The thing with parenting is that you won’t always know if you’re doing the right thing and sometimes you won’t know how to react. The good news? That’s okay! A great teacher knows that there are different ways to reach the same objective and that all kids do not learn at the same pace or with the same strategies.
Instead of giving up when parenting gets tough, know the kind of parent you want to be and the kind of kid you want to raise then follow your master plan. Remember that things will sometimes be tough before they get better.
4 | Great teachers create a sense of belonging
Just like in adults, your child’s sense of belonging has an impact on how she feels and how she behaves. She is bound to behave better if she feels that her opinions and feelings matter. The available evidence suggests that treating parenting as a relationship in which each member has a voice leads to better academic performances and reduces socially destructive behavior such as drug abuse.
Several studies have found that families in which negotiation is used to deal with conflict enjoy more positive parent-child relationships. Children raised in these families have also been found to be better behaved than those raised by permissive or authoritarian parents.
5 | Great teachers have an “effective discipline toolbox”
We hear so many things about the “right way to discipline” but the truth is, the right way to discipline is what feels rights for you and your child depending on both your personalities and your specific context. That said, discipline does not humiliate your child. In other words, discipline and punishment are not synonymous.
We now know that raising children in punitive environments (harsh verbal and corporal punishment) can lead to lower confidence, drug abuse, and lower social and academic competence.
The good news is that science has identified several characteristics of effective discipline, regardless of the discipline strategy used. What this means is that if you respect these characteristics, YOU can choose any strategy that works best for you and your kid.
Do not get frustrated because your discipline strategy is getting you nowhere. Get informed on other strategies you can use and try those!
6 | Great teachers walk the talk
One of the things the studies undertaken by Bandura have shown is that children learn primarily by imitating those they perceive as their models. Young children have a tendency to imitate their parents. So 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 | Great teachers connect with kids
The quickest and most foolproof way to get misbehaving kids to behave is to move closer – works like magic. This works in much the same way when it comes to parenting. Moving closer and making a connection with your child 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 | Great teachers allow kids to fail
It has been said that success is the other side of failure. Children learn about resilience by overcoming failure, not by never failing. Failure is one of life’s greatest lessons. It builds character. It makes kids stronger. It teaches them about life.
Help your child understand that her failures do not define her. Remember that there are age-appropriate strategies you can use to help her use failure and difficult situations as a moment to develop a growth mindset and other skills such as persistence and creative thinking.
9 | Great teachers put on “their own oxygen masks first”
Parenting is tough and it’s messy. There are so many things that get in the way and affect how you parent – how you were raised, unwanted advice, social media, criticism, the fear that you may not be quite good enough…
Other times, it’s life that gets in the way of parenting – stress, fatigue, too much to do…
All these things affect how you parent. One of the biggest differences between teachers and parents 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. Put yourself on your agenda. Face your demons before you help your kid face his.
10 | Great teachers do not keep rescuing kids
Ever since Dewey’s learning by doing theory, child development specialists the world over agree that children learn better when they learn from their mistakes. Their confidence increases when they participate in decision-making.
Be conscious of what your child is capable of doing depending on her age. Stop doing everything for her. Propose environments that foster independence. Encourage her to participate in the decision-making process.
11 | Great teachers know that childhood is not a race
Expecting your child to act older than he is will not make him any more “adult”. Each and every child develops at his own pace and unless there are major developmental gaps, there is often no cause for alarm.
Be willing to cut your kids some slack except, of course, when they’re hurting themselves or hurting others!
An earlier version of this post was published on parent.co