Parenting Using Teachable Moments

by denny hagel on July 28, 2011

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.



Denny Hagel is a child advocate and parent coach, devoting over 25 years to the success and well being of all children. She is the published author of over 60 articles on parenting, many of which have attracted international attention in over 24 countries.

Denny was blessed with forward thinking parents who raised her with an understanding of her value as an individual, her innate power to choose by way of her thoughts, ideas, opinions and beliefs, thus, instilling in her a strong sense of personal responsibility for what happens in our lives

She is the founder of Awakened Parenting LLC, a company dedicated to helping parents release parenting paradigms of the past and consciously choose to raise their children to approach life with a positive mindset and strong sense of self. It is Denny’s passion to combine what she learned through her formal education in early childhood education and psychology and what her parents instilled in her and pass this on to all parents.

Denny has created the discussion group "Awakened Parenting Discussion Forum" on Face Book which now has over 600 members.  She does on line coaching with parents and teachers who consult her on a regular basis. Denny collaborates with counselors, authors, coaches and others working in the parent coaching field. Denny Hagel is the author of the newly published "The Missing Secret to Parenting", "The C.P.R. Program for Parents & Teens: Conflict Prevention/Resolution Formula", "Mini-Me Syndrome" and two free e-booklets Parenting Using the Law of Attraction and Becoming an Awakened Parent".

  • Michele M Tremblay

    It is my hope for all young families to get their hands on your valuable information! Parenting is such a joy and a challenge.  Your insights are so right on point and your practical application makes the info easy to understand and use. Hmmmmm, and I think even Mommy and Daddy could use a little of…”What has me so upset that I have a tummy ache?” Thanks for the great info.

  • AJ

    Good stuff! Always looking for ways to be a better parent.

  • Solvita

    Great post on positive thinking, this is more important than parents normally realise as they might learn it first :)

  • Elizabeth Pratt

    As a mother of 4 kids I am always looking for ways to share life lessons in everyday activities.  Sometimes is it difficult to stay positive when you see mistakes happening, but I love the suggestions and ideas you are sharing. I know I am not going to be perfect, but always striving to be a better parent.  Thanks for sharing!

  • Anastasiya Day

    Denny, Great article and useful information as always!

  • Olga

    Denny, I still look for the teacheable moments with my children even when they are so much older now. I remember when my mom taught me things that I didn’t want to hear back then, but appreciate now as I am older. I really think that in the core of our being we feel loved when parents teach us the great things of life. Thanks again Denny!

  • Joanie McMahon

    Awesome article Denny!!

  • Denny

    Totally agree Olga, as we look back on our childhoods we often reflect on the lessons learned as the gift they were!

  • Denny

    You are not alone Elizabeth! I am constantly amazed at the lessons I learn everyday…and sometimes from my grandchildren!! :)

  • Denny

    Well said Solvita! Thank you for sharing!

  • Denny

    Michele, I so appreciate your kind words! You have made my day!! :))

  • Lyndeutsch

    Great post again Deny!  I love how you write and the things you write about…

  • Donovan

    Denny, that’s a great article. I can definitely relate to his as I have to use stories when teaching things to my little guy. Paint a picture with words makes all the difference. Thanks for shgaring the concept of teachable moments!

  • Hughie Bagnell

    Hi Denny…”Teachable Moment” is an excellent term and very relevant. It is very important to recognize these moments! Thanks, Denny 

  • Cheree Miller

    Great article! There is such a powerful mind/body connection. A lot of us “grown ups” need to practice this exercise too!

  • Victoria Gazeley

    Denny – I wish I could consistently be the parent you are!  ;o)  Your posts inspire me to do better every day, and that is quite a gift.  Thank you for that!

  • pamela wright

    My boys who are 14 and 10 definitely learn best by seeing and doing!  Thanks for sharing how to make the MOST of those teachable moments!!

  • Denny

    Oh, thank you Victoria! Hearing such nice words of appreciation inspires me as well!! :)

  • Denny

    Absolutely, and that really is the key…once parents integrate this understanding in their own lives,  they are in a position to model it to their children!

  • Denny

    Totally agree! Thanks for commenting Hughie!

  • Denny

    You are very welcome Donovan, thanks for commenting!

  • Denny

    Thank you so much Lyn, I appreciate you saying that! :)

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  • olgahermans

    This is a great article Denny; I strongly believe in guiding and correcting our children. I think children love the boundaries that we set for them; it makes them feel secure and loved

  • Ron Cross

    I’m having some of the best conversations with my boys now that they’re older. Teachable moments really seem to resonate with them now.

  • penny

    another great article! thanks!

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