As adults, TED Talks have the power to challenge our way of thinking. As parents, they can give us new perspectives on the world and on our beliefs around parenthood and motherhood.
So, what about TED Talks for kids? Well, these are the best talks that have the ability to empower and inspire our kids, help them to see a world greater than their own, and offer different views, from a wide range of people around the world.
And let’s face it, sometimes our kids just don’t listen to us and it takes someone else sharing a message for it to get through.
It is incredibly important for kids to understand that there is a place in this world for them. For their unique abilities, their individual likes, their own selves in whatever form that takes.
While we dream of a day that bullying no longer exists, I sadly believe that pulling others down in order to get ahead (bullying) is a natural instinct. HOWEVER, I dream of the day that our children are so confident in who they are and so empowered that those who try to bully them have no effect.
TED Talks like these, which have been hand-picked as some of the most empowering and inspiring, can help them to get there.
Some of these TED Talks will appeal to all ages and some are designed for kids a little older. It’s a good idea for you to watch the talks first (there’s a lot so I usually watch them on 1.25 speed or 1.5 speed) and then watch them with your kids and have a discussion about the talk afterward.
The true power in these talks comes from the discussions you have with them, and the way you make them feel about their thoughts and takeaways from the talks.
Use these talks as a way to have a better discussion with your kids about who they are, what they want in life and their place in the world.
This is in no way an exhaustive list, so be sure to let your curiosity take you through the wonderful library of TED Talks and what these incredible speakers have to offer.
1 – Do Schools Kill Creativity? – Dr Ken Robinson
I love this talk for kids, and I do believe it’s important for kids to hear views like this.
As someone who doesn’t consider themselves to be creative, it made me wonder why I lost that creative spark I once had when I was at school.
But I did realize that my writing is my creativity, but not all adults have a creative outlet.
What this talk does is allows encourages us to realize that creativity is something we should nurture, something we should make time for, and something we should encourage.
And it makes me worried that my son, who is a creative little soul, could one day lose that while being forced to fit the education mold.
You can understand why this talk is one of the most popular TED Talks of all time (and remains to be one of the most highly viewed talks).
It really challenges the way we look at modern education systems and makes us wonder what we could be doing better.
2 – What Adults Can Learn From Kids – Adora Svitak
I absolutely adore this TED Talk, and not just because it’s being presented by a 12-year-old.
Adora challenges learning to be a two-way street, where children learn from adults and adults learn from children.
She talks about how children don’t see obstacles like adults do and therefore their scope of possibilities is much wider.
A great reminder for us when we keep saying ‘you can’t do that’ to our kids (I know I do…).
Use this talk to ask your kids what they want you to learn from them! It can be incredibly insightful.
3 – A Teen Just Trying To Figure It Out – Tavi Gevinson
What strong female characters have your kids had in their lives?
All you need to do is look at the latest movie releases to see what kinds of ‘strong female leads’ there are.
While this talk was filmed in 2012, and we are *slowly* starting to see more strong female leads, they still aren’t always an accurate representation of women, of females, and of the complexities we face (because, as Tavi says, we are people and people are complicated).
Tavi created the popular web magazine for teen girls to look for better teenage role models and her take on modern feminism at a young age is incredibly inspiring.
Don’t brush this talk off if you don’t have daughters – this talk is just as important for our young males to watch too.
4 – Science Is For Everyone, Kids Included – Beau Lotto + Amy O’Toole
Neuroscientist Beau Lotto believes that all people should participate in the process of discovery through science, including kids!
Beau talks about the keys of science being play and rules – such as those involved in a game – and this is exactly what kids are best at. Which, in turn, would make kids the best scientists, right?
Whenever we want to do anything different we need to step into uncertainty through the process of play – which is what Beau did with a group of kids from 8 – 10 years old, who then became the youngest people to ever be published in a scientific publication for the Blackhawton Bees Project.
12-year-old Amy O’Toole is also the youngest speaker to ever take to the TED stage.
This is such an empowering talk for all kids, but particularly those who have ever been told they are too young to do something, or they can’t do something because they are kids.
5 – How I Harnessed The Wind – William Kamkwamba
During a time of famine in Malawi, William at the age of 14, after dropping out of school, taught himself scientific principles through images in science books to create a windmill for his family and village.
This windmill created electricity and allowed irrigation for the poor farming family.
This is a short but inspiring story that inspires kids to try out the ideas they have, even if others might think they are crazy – because a small idea like this, can change their lives and the lives of those around them.
6 – A 12-Year-Old App Developer – Thomas Suarez
‘A lot of kids these days like to play games, but now they want to make them.’
But where do kids go when they want to learn how to develop apps? Parents like us don’t usually know, teachers don’t always know, this is a whole new era of abilities that is unique to the younger generation.
Thomas has created an app club at his school to help share his knowledge of apps with other students and help them to learn how to develop their own iPhone apps.
While this is a short and simple talk, it also reminds us as parents, and reminds our kids, that there are different ways of learning and that we need to look beyond what we know as parents, and what our schools teach our kids, and start looking to the things kids want to learn and finding ways to gather that information with them.
7 – Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection – Reshma Saujani
A great talk for parents of girls – challenging the way we approach our way of talking to our girls and how we encourage them in taking risks, rather than being ‘perfect’.
As the founder of ‘Girls Who Code’ Reshma wants us to encourage our girls to take risks, to do things that they may not be good at but be okay with failing and learning.
Learning how to fail is an important life lesson, that trial and error is something we need to learn, and to not be afraid of the hard work involved in getting better at something, rather than stick with the things they are naturally good at.
It really makes you think about socializing girls to be brave, to be comfortable with imperfection, and the differences that can be made by closing the gender gap.
8 – The Power Of Introverts – Susan Cain
Are you a parent of an introverted child?
This talk is included in this best-of list because it’s so important for us to encourage our kids to be confident in who they are, including if they are introverted.
There are high expectations for our kids to be extroverted, to be outgoing, and that this is the way they learn and is the best way for kids to be. That the ‘ideal student’ is an extrovert.
But being an introvert isn’t a negative personality trait. In fact, introverts have incredible traits and their extraordinary talents and abilities should be encouraged and celebrated, rather than ‘fixed’.
This talk is another that helps kids accept the person they are, rather than feeling like they have to change themselves in order to fit in.
9 – A Promising Test For Pancreatic Cancer… From A Teenager – Jack Andraka
Still unsure about the power of young minds and their ability in the world?
In this presentation, Jack Andraka talks about how he developed a test for the early detection of pancreatic cancer and how he used his ‘teenage optimism’ to challenge the 60-year-old technology that was being used.
Jack talks about how he emailed 200 professors in determination to use their labs to further develop his ideas for this test, and how, after ‘plugging the million holes’ he discovered in his theory, he created a promising early detection test for not only pancreatic cancer, but other forms of cancer too.
The most amazing thing is that this test takes the percent chance of survival of pancreatic cancer from around 5% to almost 100%.
This is an incredibly captivating and eye-opening talk that makes you realize just how incredible the ideas of kids can be, even if they are still in high school.
10 – 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do – Gever Tully
Okay… maybe you don’t want to let your kids watch this TED Talk… but I promise it brings up some really valid points and challenges your way of thinking (as all TED Talks do).
The question is, do you think we protect our kids too much?
We often think of the dangers that face our kids, but Gever challenges our thoughts on these based on the evidence that shows where the real dangers are, and how we can safely allow our kids to do the ‘dangerous’ things.
11 – All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes – Andy Puddicombe
When is the last time you took just 10 minutes to do nothing?
Such a simple question, but one that so many of us would struggle to answer.
Young kids do this often, but as we get older, we tend to lose our ability to just… be.
When Andy speaks about being anxious about feeling anxious… that’s something so many of us can relate to (clearly, it’s not just me), and these feelings are often present in our kids as well.
This talk reinforces how important it is to include mindfulness in our day-to-day lives and is something we can encourage our kids to do at any age! Perhaps you can even do it together.
We can all spare 10 minutes out of our days to increase our mindfulness.
12 – In The Internet Age, Dance Evolves … – The LXD
In this talk, the creator, founder, and storyteller behind The League of Extraordinary Dancers (The LXD) explains how despite believing that the creatives of dance and music had passed (think Michael Jackson & Grace Kelly), the internet has brought to life a new age of dance.
One of the more remarkable things about this talk is that it was filmed in 2010, long before the likes of Instagram and TikTok made creating viral dance sensations a ‘thing’.
I love how this talk encourages people (including kids) to look beyond what they know and find a world they can fit in.
13 – Every Kid Needs A Champion – Rita Pierson
A brilliant insight into the importance of connections and relationships between children and their educators.
“Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”
The role of teachers in our children’s lives is so powerful, and it’s important for our kids to be aware of this too.
Not all kids are going to be able to understand this, I didn’t realize how important and influential some of my teachers were until I was well into my adult years.
But knowing their teachers can be someone they can rely on, someone who can help them, and champion for them, is incredibly empowering for kids.
Having a teacher who believes in our children, who doesn’t just dismiss them and push them to the side, can be life-changing.
14 – How Do You Define Yourself? – Lizzie Velasquez
“What’s wrong with me?”
The question, as parents, we hope our children never ask us, but a question so many kids have inside of them.
Lizzie was faced with difficult challenges in her life, an extremely rare genetic disorder that affects her ability to gain weight, thus affecting her appearance, but she doesn’t let that define her.
In this talk Lizzie shares her own personal experience and how she turned what some could let completely define them, that is instead something that is simply part of them.
This talk made me sit back and wonder what I let define me, or how I choose to define myself, and can be a great talking point with older kids in particular about what they believe defines them.
Prepare for the tears as she talks about being labeled as ‘the world’s ugliest woman’.
15 – Why Thinking You’re Ugly Is Bad For You – Meaghan Ramsey
If I could choose only one TED Talk for my daughter to watch, it would be this one.
This is such an incredibly powerful talk.
As women, we obsess about our appearance. Can you remember what it was like as young women and teenage girls? The obsession was huge!
Even the most confident of us worry at some point about how we look and what others think about how we look.
This is one talk I watch regularly and am captivated every single time.
It makes me wonder, what am I benchmarking myself against without even realizing, and hopefully it does the same for any young woman, or young girl that watches it.
It certainly makes me rethink the way I look at myself as well as the way I speak to myself.
“6 out of 10 girls are now choosing to not do something because they don’t think they look good enough.”
Imagine how much more powerful our young girls would feel if they didn’t worry about their looks…
(This is not the original TED Talk video – it has since been removed but I managed to find this one on YouTube, if it disappears, search for this talk online – it is really worth the watch.)
16 – My Philosophy For A Happy Life – Sam Berns
I absolutely love that Sam talks about how he focuses on what he can do, rather than what he is limited in doing.
Such a beautiful talk about adapting your surroundings to help you achieve your goals, surrounding yourself with the right people (who see you for who you are), and by always moving forward.
In life, it’s easy to get caught up in the negative, but with his 3 philosophies, you can bring happiness back into your life. Such a profound and wise talk from someone so young.
17 – I Was Almost A School Shooter – Aaron Stark
This talk clearly comes with a big warning – and I highly advise parents to watch this particular talk first and decide if it is suitable and age appropriate for their kids to watch.
I attempted to write notes during this TED Talk but was so captivated I had to watch it a few times because I kept just focusing on what was being said.
And I cried every time.
The part that struck me the most was when Aaron was talking about his friend who didn’t push help onto him but rather simply said “would you like a meal, let’s watch a movie.”
This talk challenges you to change the way you think about people who are in a dark place, and the difference your reaction can have on them.
“When someone treats you like a person when you don’t even feel human it can change your world.”
There are two big sides to this talk and these are the reasons why I included it in the best TED Talks for kids list.
The first is the acknowledgment that IF a young person is experiencing feeling alone or feeling helpless, there are always people out there who are willing to help.
The second is to be that person who is willing to help.
18 – How We Can Help The ‘Forgotten Middle’ Reach Their Full Potential – Danielle R. Moss
The ‘forgotten middle’ is where a lot of students hang out.
The place where they aren’t so overachieving they get attention, they aren’t so underachieving they gain attention because they need help, but rather those who sit within that middle ground, the ‘forgotten middle’.
Danielle talks about the high expectations strategy her mother used with her, that she later used with kids in New York City to help them move from the ‘middle’ to a place where they were actually working towards creating and achieving their goals.
She talks about how these kids in the middle hold so much potential and are capable of a lot more, but they tend to stay in the middle because they either are comfortable there, because we relegated them to that space, or because they just didn’t know how to move out of the middle.
19 – The Boost Students Need To Overcome Obstacles – Anindya Kundu
It can be easy to overlook a talk like this, particularly if your kids are not in the category of disadvantaged students, but I strongly believe all kids should learn about the challenges that others face (in a way that is age-appropriate).
This is a great quick talk that showcases some students who have used their grit to overcome challenges and obstacles, and how having someone in their corner, and having someone believe in them, helped them to succeed.
20 – Be The Warrior Not The Worrier – Fighting Anxiety & Fear – Angela Ceberano
Imagine if our kids believed their fears, their anxiety, and their worry was a good thing?
Rather than staying paralyzed by your anxiety and fear, Angela talks about fighting fear head on like a warrior – embracing your fears and using them to better yourself in life and pushing yourself forward.
What opportunities could come your way when you start to tackle your fears and reduce your anxiety and become a ‘fear fighter’?
21 – Creative Ways To Get Kids To Thrive In School – Olympia Della Flora
Teaching kids to thrive in school goes beyond simply learning the basics of reading and writing. In fact, we focus so much on these measurable means in education, when really, getting kids to thrive in school comes down to teaching them how to manage their emotions.
‘Small changes can make huge differences’ and these meaningful changes don’t need to take a huge budget or time and energy.
Olympia talks about how things like stopping for brain breaks, singing songs, and doing yoga poses in the class, can actually help make these small changes.
Some kids are having such a hard time outside of school, that they struggle to switch between the outside life and school life, but by thinking out of the box and being able to help teach kids how to manage their emotions and take emotional development seriously, the results on their academic results are amazing.
22 – How To Raise Kids Who Can Overcome Anxiety – Anne Marie Albano
If you have a child with anxiety (or had anxiety yourself as a child) this is an incredibly interesting TED Talk.
While it’s our natural response to protect our children from being upset and from feelings of being uncomfortable, teaching them how to manage these feelings, take risks and engage (especially in situations where they feel uncomfortable) can actually be more helpful.
The only thing I would add to this is to ensure that you’re engaging in age-appropriate activities – this talk mentions things like ‘self-soothing’ but they aren’t talking about teaching babies to deal with situations on their own, because they aren’t cognitively able to.
Understand what your child is able to achieve cognitively at their age, and use age-appropriate ways to help support them through uncomfortable situations.
23 – How To Raise Successful Kids – Without Over-Parenting – Julie Lythcott-Haims
Okay, so this one might be aimed a little more at the parents, but it still brings up some great discussion points to have with your kids.
It’s so tempting to protect and help our children at every turn… but it is possible to over-parent.
Of course, we want our kids to be successful, and giving them more than we ever had ourselves.. but at what point are we doing more harm than good?
What message are we sending our kids?
That their worth is attached to certain grades or achievements?
Or that they cannot achieve things in life without our help? We need to teach our children about self-efficacy, and in order to do so, they need to do things themselves, without us doing everything for them.
As parents, our role is to help create a foundation that helps our kids learn how to be successful themselves (including chores at home!!).
And above all, we need to give our children unconditional love in order to teach them how to love – a key factor in teaching our children to be successful in life.
24 – How To Retire By 20 – Kristen Hadeed
The goal with these TED Talks was to inspire and empower our kids right? Well, what a way to do it!
Despite the title, this isn’t going to give you a step-by-step plan on how to retire by 20, but it is going to give you a really big lesson in how to think outside of the box.
Sometimes the ‘logical’ choice isn’t always the right one and won’t always lead to the greatest financial gain.
Following your curiosity and passions and listening to your inner child can take you so much further than you ever imagined.
This is really powerful for kids who don’t really know what they want to do in life, or aren’t sure they want to pursue further (formal) education beyond school.
25 – Grit: The Power Of Passion And Perseverance – Angela Lee Duckworth
There is a reason this talk is last on the list, because I hoped that if you skipped all the other talks and scrolled down to the bottom, you’d still watch this talk.
This talk emphasizes the idea that IQ isn’t the only determinant of success, but rather grit and perseverance play a major role.
In fact, grit was a determinant of success, more so than IQ and anything else that could be measured.
In one of Angela’s studies, she found that ‘grittier’ kids were significantly more likely to graduate school, even when she matched them on every characteristic she could measure like family income, feelings of safety, and standardized achievement scores.
She states that a growth mindset is a great idea for building git – that is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, but as science doesn’t really know about how to build grit, we need more.
We need to learn more about girt so we can help out kids develop it, as it appears to be such a big component of success in our kids.
If you ever get a chance to go to a local TEDx event, be sure to take up the opportunity and take your young people with you. Often there’s an opportunity to speak with the presenters after the event and the atmosphere is something totally different.
I hope these TED Talks open up some new communication channels between parents and their kids and allow kids to feel empowered and inspired. They are the future of our world and they are so incredibly powerful.
You can also find the other collections of TED Talks on a wide variety of topics by going to our Ultimate TED Talks Playlists page.