effective teaching

The Most Effective Teaching Tool for Your Children

My experience working two decades as a schoolteacher was rewarding, interesting, and exciting; it also taught me a great deal about human nature. Among other things, teaching gifted me with a unique perspective on raising kids, a view of people that made me realize the most effective teaching tool is how you live.

Especially telling was the opportunity to observe my students’ interactions with their parents. One dad, invited in to talk about his son’s ongoing issues with cursing and fighting, grabbed his child by the arm, slapped him hard across the face, and yelled, “You stupid little _______! How many times do I have to ________ – _______ smack you? Keep your hands to yourself and don’t ________ curse.” Then he turned to me, smiled, and said, “Let me know if he ______s up again and I’ll beat his ______  _____.” (Feel free to insert your own blankety-blanks in the spaces provided.)

As parents, we are always on. We teach 24-7 with no letup. We use words, and we use actions. But, more than anything else, we teach volumes via the way that we are. The way we are is the most effective teacher our kids will ever have and the most effective teaching tool is how you live. Here are some things to keep in mind as you are preparing the curriculum.

1. Cultivate an attitude marked by kindness, encouragement, and support. 

When we’re unkind and when we discourage our children, we’re taking away their confidence in us as leaders. 

2. Kids are giant sponges.

Kids absorb everything; they have a remarkable capacity to learn. Learning is their natural approach to life. So let’s not waste the opportunity by teaching them anything other than integrity, courage, faith, patience, love, hard work, and all the positive attributes that will lead them to experience successful meaningful lives.

3. It’s not if they learn from you but what?

We can’t abrogate our responsibility to teach. Teaching and learning are the go-to postures for dads and their children. So the question moves from if to what will we teach.

4. You are your kids’ hero; it’s not an option.

Good, bad, or ugly, as Dad, you are your children’s hero. [Tweet This] Just like teaching, this isn’t an optional role. This fact begs the question, What kind of a hero am I going to be?

5. How you treat your spouse is the best predictor of how your son will treat his family.

You are already teaching your son how to be a husband. So how are you doing? Not only will your son likely treat his wife the same way you treat his mother, your daughter will find a man who will continue the lessons learned from dad. So how would you like your kids’ marriages to look?

6. When you think they’re not listening, they are.

This is one of those Murphy’s Law situations. You simply can’t be selective when it comes to teaching your kids how to live. Your life is written large on their consciousness, and it seeps through walls, across the miles between home and work. They will—they do—always “hear” us live. There’s no getting around this fact.

Sound Off

What kind of a role model was your dad? How are you doing with your son?

Derek Maul

Derek Maul is the author of five books, a nationally recognized men’s resource, a committed encourager, and a pilgrim in progress. He divides his time between writing and traveling to speak about the fully engaged life.

  • Lars Londot

    My question is what do you do if your dad was not a good role model? My dad did not treat my mom right nor did he do good things to my sister and I. I am seeing some of these tendencies and I don’t want to do that. My family is my life. I don’t want to become the father I saw growing up. Are there more resources on this topic?

    • BJ_Foster

      My general advice would be to look for other role models in your life. When you find one, see if they will be willing to meet for breakfast or lunch to talk. Pick their brain about what they have done to build the type of character you admire. Hopefully that will grow into regular meetings (monthly or weekly breakfast).

      Continue to read this material and parenting and marriage books by people you respect. Take time to write down all of the things you want to be as a dad. Keep that list close. Attack that in the same way you would other goals. Write down the activities you’ll do to build the qualities you want to see.

      You may even want to meet with a counselor to unpack your relationship with your dad and how it continues to affect you. A professional may have insights and practical tips on how to break some of those bad cycles. Without specifically knowing what tendencies you are talking about it is somewhat of a shot in the dark, but here is an article about being harsh and how to change. http://www.allprodad.com/confession-im-too-harsh-with-my-kids/ The fact that you are thinking the way you are is a credit to you and I know your family will be very different than the one you grew up in. So great job and keep it up!

    • Nick

      Be the man you wish your father HAD been. Get connected with positive males. Church is a great place….if you don’t like church, you just haven’t found the right one. Civic groups are also great places to meet men and LEARN. The values you learn there will take you farther than hanging out in a bar. The fact that you recognize your negative tendencies is to be commended. You’ve already taken The right step by asking for help! Good for you

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Huddle with your children and ask, “What am I teaching you about being a dad?” and “Is there anything I’m missing…?”

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