Seizing Teachable Moments

Aug 31, 2021

Growth opportunities are everywhere in parenting and teaching for children and ourselves.

Being aware of teachable moments can nurture within your child resilience, confidence, independence and persistence and the many inner qualities we want them as they grow through their developing years into adulthood.
Teachable moments are opportunities to help a child bounce back from mistakes, grow responsibility, independence and capability, and learn how to seek and accept feedback along the way.


Teachable Moments are opportunities to nurture a growth mindset.

They are Growth Moments!


So, what's mindset?

This blog's focus on growth and fixed mindset comes from psychologist Carol Dweck's decades of research on mindsets. Dr Carol Dweck is a professor of psychology at Stanford University, and her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success has created quite a stir among social/behavioural psychologists, education reformers, business leaders and parents alike.

According to Dr Dweck, most people have two possible mindsets — a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is one where we believe that our core personality, character, talent, abilities and intelligence are fixed. People with a fixed mindset spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing it. They also believe that talent alone creates success without effort. People with a fixed mindset believe that their traits are just givens. They possess a certain number of brains and skills and can do nothing to change that. They also think their failures and lack of abilities are fixed and unchangeable, and there is nothing that they can do to change the outcome. Since success and failure are tightly aligned to their sense of identity, people with a fixed mindset tend to develop an irrational fear of failure and take less risk.

A growth mindset is where we believe that everything about a person is malleable. Through resilience and effort, anyone can build themselves into anything they want to be. This view creates a love of learning and emotional strength that is essential for great success. People with a growth mindset believe it takes belief, practice and learning and that you can change and transform through mindsets. Since success and failure are seen as separate events not directly tied to their identity, people with a growth mindset tend to see their success with humility and handle failures gracefully.
As you can see, Growth Mindset people embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see the effort to the path of mastery, learn from criticism and find lessons and inspiration from the success of others.

So, that understanding of mindset leads beautifully to what this blog is all about. It's about recognising teachable moments to nurture a growth mindset.
In a nutshell, nurturing a growth mindset is key to building emotional and mental resilience for you, your family and your classroom.

A part of a growth mindset is your ability to learn and grow from your mistakes. It's seeing your perceived failures and mistakes as 'teachable moments.'
Nurturing growing from mistakes helps to build resilience and handle setbacks with strength and grace.

Children like us learn mastery through practice and effort, which gives them intrinsic confidence and motivates self-esteem and self-belief.

As parents and educators, a growth mindset helps us to move from perfection to practice from perfection to progress. Even if it's the shift in an attitude, this is a growth mindset in action.

With permission and perspective, we can see the Teachable Moments for a child and ourselves. Nurturing a growth mindset helps us all to be okay with our vulnerabilities and be gentler with ourselves in the process of growing and learning. This mindset gives us options and the power to choose. As Carol Dweck says, "it gives us free will."

The mindset practice of Teachable Moments will help you recognise the problem or obstacle hindering a child in a particular moment and give them the chance to see it too. Once they know the problem, a child can start to problem solve and think for themselves what else they can do.

It gives you an excellent opportunity to trust a child to trust themselves and be mindful not to jump in to save the day or think for them. You get to stop being the 'fix it' because who will fix it when you are not around. All children need to have the opportunity to make mistakes, so they also have the chance to learn and, importantly, know what it takes and feels like to master a sense of confidence, competence, and capability.

Practising seizing Teachable Moments in your parenting and teaching helps you actively avoid reactivity in naming and shaming a child when they make a mistake or behave in a way you don't want them to. In addition, it gives you phrases to have up your sleeve to practice responding to a child's needs to seize the Teachable Moment. You might also like to look at the phrases as questions you ask yourself.

Phrases to seize Teachable Moments.

 How else could we/you have done it?
 What else could you do?
 Who can you go to for help/support?
 What are your options?
 When did you notice things not working out for you?
 How do you feel about giving it another go?
 If it happens again, what's your strategy?
 What can you do for next time?
 It's okay, what did you learn?


A great thing to be mindful of;

View perceived mistakes as teachable moments. Children are going to make mistakes. We all do. Sometimes those mistakes are relatively trivial; sometimes, they have significant consequences. In each case, be mindful to prioritise your relationship and connection with the child. Seek to find ways to learn and grow from mistakes. Think together through potential consequences as well as alternative strategies for dealing with similar situations in the future. While it may take extra time and energy to practice Teachable Moments, it pays off in the long run through connection, trust and respect while cultivating and developing the inner qualities you want to nurture; growth mindset in action. Nurturing a growth mindset will influence all aspects of their lives.

Yours in Harmony
Enjoy the Growth

Kerry Spina
Wellbeing Educator
Behaviour Support Coach


To learn more about Teachable Moments and ways to guide and teach children to become effective and thoughtful choice-makers check out my Choice Guidance Approach online course. With hundreds of parents and educators learning a method that puts connection and choices at the forefront of their guidance to nurture growth mindset. 

Helping you to raise the next generation to be the resilient, kind and connected generation.