Parenting Tips: Teaching Children Without Correcting Them

By Greg Baer M.D.

February 19, 2024


I’d been working in the backyard for a couple of hours with my nine-year-old grandson, Brad, when his seven-year-old sister, Megan, came out to help.

Because Brad had already learned how to do that particular task, he took it upon himself to instruct Megan and “supervise” her work.

A little power is tempting, and soon Brad was correcting her small mistakes far more than necessary.

I could see that Megan wasn’t really enjoying the level of supervision, so unobtrusively I whispered to Brad, “What do you think? Does it look like Megan is enjoying herself?”

Brad thought for a moment and said, “Hmm, I could be a little less bossy, right?”

“It’s a thought.”

Brad stopped bossing his sister, and we all enjoyed our time together.

Instructing Instead of Correcting

When children make mistakes, we assume that we have to correct them. We treat them as though they are too stupid to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I’m embarrassed to remember how often I’ve told my children, “Stop that,” or “Quit bothering your brother.”

What children really need is our love and instruction. They need us to ask, “What do you think?” and with that support they will usually make more loving and productive choices. LovingandTeaching are far more effective than criticizing and controlling.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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