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August 4, 2014

Teacher’s Two Cents

Image: Flickr/eyeliam

Image: Flickr/eyeliam

“Children need guidance and sympathy far more than instruction.” (Anne Sullivan)

There’s a fine line between guidance and instruction, and this famous educator helps us understand that difference with one simple word: sympathy. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of instruction, feeling like it’s your duty and obligation to make sure your kids are doing the right things at the right times. The problem is, when you take on the role of instruction, it’s difficult to avoid taking the reigns of responsibility as well. Suddenly, their projects become your projects; their problems become your problems.

In order to really teach kids about life, we need to do a little less talking and a lot more showing. Showing our kids their options and then allowing them to make their own decisions will do far more good in the long run than any lecture we can give. By sympathizing with them when those choices have painful consequences, we make ourselves safe havens. We make ourselves available to them by simply being present when they hurt — without saying, “I told you so” — even if we did.

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