Developing a Teachable Spirit

Developing_Teachable_SpiritA child who lacks a teachable spirit can be a challenge. It can be quite frustrating to attempt correction and improvement in an area, only to have your child dislike your endeavors. Hurt feelings, pride, and sometimes anger can soon ruin what could have been a wonderful learning opportunity. However, it is important our children be able to receive instruction continually, with the right attitude of heart and mind.

So, how do we remove this blockade and develop a teachable spirit? I think we first need to identify the root of the problem before we can find a solution. The most common reason for lacking a teachable spirit: pride!

No one likes to be told they’re wrong or that there is an area which needs improvement; why would we expect children to be any different? Knowing why our children are struggling in this area better helps us to remedy the situation.

Developing a teachable spirit isn’t always easy and it takes plenty of time. We most certainly don’t have it down pat in our house, but I believe there are several ways in which to establish this principle:

  • Parental Modeling: When, as parents, we are open about our own needs for improvement, we lead by example. Don’t be afraid of sharing with your children your own areas of improvement and how others have helped you become better.
  • Biblical Models: Make sure to point out examples of Biblical leaders who had teachable spirits. (Moses took advice from Jethro; Joshua from Moses; and so on.) Seeing these important spiritual men as not just leaders, but students, will help them understand the wisdom in learning from others.
  • Historical Models: Add to those men of the Bible, other people who have made an impact on the world. Share not only their triumphs, but also the lessons learned from mentors and teachers.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Fail: Encourage your children to view mistakes not as failure, but as a means of learning. Just because you didn’t get it right, doesn’t mean a valuable lesson hasn’t been learned. Accept the fact that it didn’t get done right this time, but assure them they learned a good lesson and will be able to move forward.
  • Lots and Lots of Prayer: While doing all of the above, do a lot of praying on your child’s behalf. Ask the Lord to work not only in their hearts, but in yours; showing you ways in which to reach out and help them learn this important concept.

A personal thought:  It ought to be noted that sometimes our children struggle with this area due to lack of parental respect. Consider taking a break from book work to recapture your child’s heart. I find that when the ties between us are strong, the rest flows along nicely; they long to please us.

When our children struggle with having a teachable spirit it can make our learning day, and life in general, quite challenging. Before moving on with academics, the attitude of our heart needs to be dealt with first. When a child possesses a teachable spirit, learning is a joy and a pleasure for all!

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’
I Peter 5:5

📢 Chime In!: What advice would you give to the parent of a child struggling in this area?

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17 thoughts on “Developing a Teachable Spirit

  1. Another problem that causes a unteachable kid is perfectionism. Perfectionists HATE struggle and see it as a failure to not know how to do something. They are too immature to realize that learning takes effort and there’s nothing wrong with NOT knowing how to do something. It takes years of discussion for them to understand the learning process. One book that helps with perfectionism is called “Mindset” and it discusses how our brains learn.

    Teaching our kids to accept instruction is very hard, and is even harder when you have a perfectionist. They take it personally that you know something that they don’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a wonderful post! I have two children who are perfectionist. It has been a journey and challenge to teach them but by the time the second one came around, I knew what I was dealing with. The first time around we were both frustrated. But I changed the way I approached “correcting” her. I would focus on the things she got right, boost her up, and then mention “a couple things” we can work on together. “It gives us time together.” I had to remind her that this is school so we don’t come in knowing and understanding everything. And, I had to tell her how many times I messed up when I was a kid and I still do. I often say, “See, mommy makes mistakes too. We are all learning.” She has come around. Now I am on my next perfectionist…Thank you for sharing this. It is always encouraging to know that there are others walking the same journey in homeschool. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had more than one unteachable moment when they were teenagers. We often did ‘car schooling’, played cds and tapes of lectures. Also ‘dashboard parenting’. While driving, I wasn’t looking directly at them and they would often open up about their insecurity which was causing their resistance to learning. I would ask them to teach me something. They were usually kind and willing. This was how I modeled my willingness to learn.

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      • No. If I think it is really important that they learn something, then I find a way to convince them. For example, my son could see no reason why he needed to learn to spell well. I got “Akeelah and the Bee” from Netflix. If that movie doesn’t motivate a child to want to learn to spell, then nothing would.

        That is how I do it. I find some way for them to be able to see why it is important. I find some way to change their minds about it. I do not think “pushing it” would ever work. I am stubborn and so are my kids. Pushing it would make them feel against it.

        Most often, they just love learning whatever I want to teach them because they love me. I can tell you this secret. That part comes from religious education, example, love, kindness and Alfie Kohn style “Unconditional Parenting.” (That is a book.)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought of a different answer. Unteachable happens. Sometimes it is when, yes, they need to be taught that thing (such as when they are fighting with each other and need to learn how to stop hitting each other). However, I am not skilled at making an unteachable child teachable at such times. Sometimes, they do not learn anything except, “Mom is in charge.” Lol. That is not really learning what I would like them to be learning, so it does not count. Sometimes, I just have to separate them and say, “No more. Stop.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think every child has moments when they are unteachable, and, further, there is nothing a parent can do in those moments. It is precisely then we are to call upon the Lord, and His wisdom, to intercede for our child and soften their heart.

      I would also argue that learning “Mom is in charge!” is a valuable lesson, and one worth learning! Character is a necessary part of any child’s learning. It might not be what we envisioned for the day, but it counts for much more.

      Keep up the incredible job, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

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