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5 Things Kids Are Secretly Teaching Us About Parenting

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When spending time with my kids, I am not a “just let fun happen” kind of mom. I’m less stressed when I schedule things. But recently, my daughter taught me a lesson about the value of spontaneity when she asked for a hammock. It seems that hammocking is very popular with kids these days. “Why do you like it?” I asked her. “It’s just something that can be spur-of-the-moment,” she said, “A low-stress way to spend quality time with people.”

At that moment, I realized something: I want to learn to be a mom with a hammocking mindset and take a less-structured approach to my parenting. That short conversation with my daughter taught me that spending time with her and my son doesn’t have to be planned or complicated or orchestrated. Boy, what we learn from children when we don’t expect it. If we listen or watch our kids closely enough, we’ll find that they are constantly giving us parenting advice, loud and clear. Here are 5 other things kids are trying to teach us about parenting.

If we listen or watch our kids closely enough, we'll find that they are constantly giving us parenting advice, loud and clear. Click To Tweet

1. Lectures are boring.

Most of our kids sit through lectures at school all day and then come home and complain about them. So why do we lecture when we want to teach them something? I know my answer—lecturing is easy! What’s harder is dialoguing or presenting a scenario and asking questions to get them to reach the conclusion instead of forcing the lesson on them through a lecture.

2. Momsplaining is stifling.

“I do it by myself!” When my children were toddlers, they taught me this lesson. Kids want to figure things out on their own. So the next time your child is struggling to get toothpaste on a toothbrush or your tween actually steps up and makes dinner for the family and you want to teach one of them how, resist the urge to take over. Avoid momsplaining and let your kids try to master new skills on their own.

3. Kids know their limits.

When my daughter was about four, I fired off a list of things I wanted her to do. “Mommy!” she said in exasperation, “I only have two hands. I’m not a caterpillar.” What we learn from children when we actually listen is that they are pretty aware of their limitations. There are usually signs before they have a meltdown. We get into trouble when we push through those signs. The lesson here? When we see our children approaching their limits, we need to respond with patience and understanding.

4. Fear tactics fail.

I can get on a roll with my kids about things I feel strongly about. Want to learn about the dangers of smoking? You’ve come to the right place. Need a primer on the ramifications of getting too little sleep? I’m on it. The problem is that kids are rarely scared into good choices. My kids taught me this lesson when they told me more than once: “Mom, you make things sound so bad that it seems like an exaggeration.”

5. The clamshell principle is real.

My daughter came to me last week after a disappointing Zoom chat with a group of students from her school. I did about 20 seconds of listening and then went right into correction mode. She clammed up so fast I didn’t have a chance to salvage the conversation. Later, she told me that she wanted comfort, not problem-solving. What we learn from children when they clam up is that our parenting approach is not working. When they shut down, we likely need to regroup.

What have your kids taught you about parenting?


If you were a teacher, what would you say to your students to help them learn?

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