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One of the best things about technology is the wealth of information it puts right at our fingertips. Of course, that can also be one of the worst things about technology, but when we’re making good choices about how we spend our time online, we can find some really helpful resources for becoming better people and better parents.
One awesome place to find inspiration and to learn new things is TED Talks. I’ve put together a list of 15 of the best TED Talks that will help you become a better parent.
Some of these are talks I chose; some are suggestions I enlisted from a handful of other bloggers so that you could get perspectives from other parents too.
Table of Contents
1. Why You Should Put Down Your Cell Phone and Be Here Now | Renny Gleeson
This talk starts with a discussion of “the rise of the culture of availability.” With the ubiquity of portable telephones, we’ve come to expect people to be available whenever we want them.
As a result, we’ve begun to ignore the people who are right there in front of us in favor of the people on the “other side” of our phone. (Side note: it’s not just the expectation of availability that drives us to check our phones impulsively, but also a fear of boredom.)
“There is a collision,” Gleeson says, “between availability and the need to create shared narratives.”
When we’re with our children and spending time on our phones instead of with them, we’re not creating shared narratives. We’re not truly connecting with them.
I don’t have it completely figured out, but I’m working more and more on making a point of being with my kids instead of being on my phone. They are our future and need us to be here now.
2. 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do | Gever Tulley
I LOVE this TED Talk! I truly believe that modern parenting has become entirely too motivated by fear, so much so that we don’t let our children actually live.
Gever Tulley begins with some statistics contrasting parents’ biggest fears with the biggest risks that actually face our children today. And then he suggests something surprising: let your children do dangerous things–within reason of course!
I loved his explanations for the 5 dangerous things you should let your children do. A little bit of “danger” can help your children develop crucial life skills.
3. Where Joy Hides and Where to Find It | Ingrid Fetell Lee
Tere from Preemie Mom Tips compiled a list of her favorite TED Talks for parents. She says about this one,
One of my favorite TED talks for parents ever!
Ingrid Fetell Lee studies what physical aspects of life bring people joy. And why.
This is super interesting and is full of tips to grab to improve our children’s quality of living, my top three are:
- In schools painted with bright colors, the attendance increased, and the attention improved.
- People who are surrounded by circles, rainbows, and bright colors live happier!
- Angular shapes trigger the same response in humans as stress does!
Here’s the complete talk, I’m sure it’ll put a smile in your face and get your mind racing with ideas to make your children’s world more round and colorful!
4. The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage | Susan David
Susan David’s concept of emotional agility is important not only for ourselves but also for how we teach our children to handle their emotions.
We are humans. We cannot help but feel. As she says, “Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.”
And children have huge emotions that they are still learning how to manage. I deal every single day with the outbursts and meltdowns of an emotionally volatile one year old and three year old.
It’s challenging, but this powerful TED Talk reminds me to approach their feelings not from the perspective of trying to stifle “bad” emotions, but from a place of helping them learn how to accept, identify, and respond to those emotions in healthy ways.
5. Your Child’s Most Annoying Trait Might Just Reveal Their Greatest Strengths | Josh Shipp
Such a good reminder that our greatest weaknesses can also be our greatest strengths.
My son loves to talk. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but I try to remind myself that every talent has both positive and negative manifestations: the key is teaching our children to channel their skills in positive ways.
This is a good talk for helping change the way we view our children (and other people in general!) and help them to use their skills for good.
6. How to Raise Successful Kids — Without Over-Parenting | Julie Lythcott-Haims
Charisty at Fire Dept Family says the following:
TED talks are pretty cool because they can give you some insights you might not have thought of. One TED talk in particular has really resonated with me as a new parent and a former educator.
This talk covers how to raise successful kids–which is pretty much what all parents want to accomplish. What makes this TED talk stand out is how the author suggests you accomplish successful parenting, and that is without over parenting your children. . . .
Julie Lythcott-Hiams addresses the nationwide epidemic of pushing your kids to do too much. As a former educator, I saw this all too frequently. Many parents cared so much that they based their approval on if their kid got an A or a B, if they made the sports team, and if they got a spot on the homecoming court.
Julie coins the term, the “checklisted childhood” where parents and kids check all the boxes of what they think a healthy and accomplished child looks like. But in doing so, we rob children of the means to learn how to take care of themselves and become well rounded adults.
Instead they are adults who base their self worth on test scores and accomplishments; little bonsai trees sculpted by their parents.
In her TED talk, Julie Lythcott-Hiams speaks to all parents who want the best for their kids, and those same parents who need to lower their expectations of perfection and focus on raising children who have developed independence and self-efficacy.
7. Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Engineers | Debbie Sterling
As a female in technology, I related to so much of this talk. Debbie talks about being one of the only female students in her engineering classes–I was the only female in most of the programming classes I took as an undergrad.
In spite of being at the top of my classes, I remember a fellow student during my graduate studies implying that the only reason I completed my assignments was because I had my husband to help me.
This talk will be an inspiration to any parent who wants to encourage their daughter to pursue a passion for engineering.
8. Teach Every Child About Food | Jamie Oliver
Education is one of the most powerful tools in our hands to make our children’s lives better. Jamie Oliver opens this talk with some eye-opening, sobering facts.
Americans are unhealthy and overweight. Diet-related disease is our number-one killer, and our lifespans are getting shorter. And the rest of the world is following. Although this talk is from 2010, it’s clear there’s still a problem today.
The solution? Teach our children about food. Learn to cook and pass the knowledge on to our kids.
His wish for the world: “I wish for everyone to help create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”
It might not be easy, but it is doable. And it has the potential to affect not only us and our children. It just might change the world.
9. Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection | Reshma Saujani
Liz at Playspired says,
I love this talk because I recognise this drive to perfection in myself, and in so many of my friends.
We were brought up to only raise our hands in class if we were sure we were right – not that anyone ever told us that, but that’s the message we got.
I really believe that this world needs more women to step up in business, in government, in everything. It’s time for a more feminine influence to rise up, and the only way we can do that is if we embrace the same fearlessness that our male counterparts have been engaging with all along.
10. If I Should Have A Daughter… | Sarah Kay
This is a beautiful talk on finding the stories only you can tell. Sarah begins with a moving spoken-word poem, “If I Should Have a Daughter,” that got her a standing ovation, and will have you thinking about what you want to teach your own children about life and joy and sorrow and hope.
Because the days when “up to your knees in disappointment. . . . Those are the very days when you have all the more reason to say, ‘Thank you.'”
11. The secret to motivating your child | Jennifer Nacif
Parenting is not one-size-fits-all. Every child is different, with different desires and motivators and personalities. Just like adults, children with different personalities respond differently to different circumstances.
Jennifer Nacif taps into personality differences in this talk and discusses what you can do to motivate different children based on their personalities.
I have a feeling my daughter is the first kind of child she described. I will definitely be keeping these tips in mind!
12. Let’s Raise Kids to be Entrepreneurs | Cameron Herold
Anna at Abrazo and Coze says, “Cameron Herold speaks on his experience growing up in a family of entrepreneurs and the lessons he’s learned along the way. He inspires parents to encourage rather than stifle the entrepreneurial spirit of children.”
That’s something I can definitely get behind!
13. How Language Shapes the Way We Think | Lera Boroditsky
Language and the way we communicate are fascinating, and this talk dives deep into how the language we speak affects our brains.
As a parent who has invested a lot of time into figuring out how to teach my children a second language, I found this talk especially compelling. I was a Spanish major in college and even wrote my freshman English research paper on why parents should teach their children a second language.
But I still find it challenging to teach my children anything more than English.
Learning new languages has a profound ability to shape the way we think and view the world. It opens our minds up to new perspectives on reality. This talk renews my desire and motivation to teach my children a second language.
14. If You Leave Your Children One Thing, Make It This | Robert Gardner
Matt at Method to Your Money says,
I love this TED Talk because it emphasizes just how important it is to ensure as parents we’re giving our kids the financial foundation they need in order to thrive.
Teaching kids about money doesn’t have to be boring or difficult. Whether you use games like the built-to-last challenge mentioned in the TED Talk or take advantage of Teachable moments like I encourage, teaching your kids about money is all about being intentional.
And as all great parents know, being intentional is half the battle!
15. For Parents, Happiness Is A Very High Bar | Jennifer Senior
This is an excellent, excellent talk on how the goals of parenting have changed over the ages, and how our new focus on making our kids happy is the wrong focus.
This need to do things “right” as a parent can lead to massive amounts of anxiety and mom guilt, and the unshakeable feeling that no matter what we do, it’s the wrong thing.
Senior advocates for a different focus: “decency, a work ethic, love. And let happiness and self-esteem take care of themselves.”
Definitely a must-watch.
Let me know what you think! Do you enjoy TED Talks? Did I miss any of your favorites?
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