TED Talks are pretty amazing – and once you start watching them, they can become quite obsessive. Which isn’t a bad thing considering there are so many talks on seriously interesting topics that can keep you entertained for days.
One of my favourite topics to watch are parenting TED Talks, because this parenting gig is pretty darn difficult and it’s nice to know we aren’t alone.
Which is why I created a round up of the best of the best. The most amazing TED Talks for parents that are in the ‘must watch’ category.
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1 – Jennifer Senior: For Parents, Happiness Is A Very High Bar
Parenting + Anxiety is something many of us know all too well.
There’s no manual on how to raise children properly, so the idea of raising children to a standard that isn’t actually determined is pretty darn stressful.
This talk is like a big hug of ‘you’re doing okay mama’. Which, honestly, is not something we hear often enough.
Parenting and motherhood can get pretty lonely, we have high expectations of ourselves as parents before we have children, and when the reality and our expectations don’t quite match up, it can leave us feeling disheartened and unhappy as parents.
This is such a good talk to remind you, you are not alone.
2 – Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion
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. Many parents know, especially of late, just how amazing our teachers are, but realising just how impactful they are on our children’s lives is something many parents are still learning.
Having a teacher who believes in our children, who doesn’t just dismiss them and push them to the side, can be life-changing.
Even decades later, many people can still recall their favourite teacher, and can detail the impact they had on their lives – which is exactly why every kid needs a champion.
3 – Roberto D’Angelo & Francesca Fedeli: In Our Baby’s Illness, A Life Lesson
When it comes to parenting challenges, dealing with a serious illness would have to be one of the most difficult.
It’s one of those things that, while you feel heartache for those going through it, it’s incredibly difficult to comprehend unless you have been there yourself.
I related so much to the part where they say they felt like failures as parents, I felt the same way when my son was in NICU – what was it that I missed? What was it that I did wrong?
Even still, every story is different, and what you do with your story is up to you.
I love so much how they adapted and pushed forward through their challenges. All the feels.
4 – Sarah Kay: If I Should Have A Daughter…
Such a beautiful talk that starts with an incredible spoken word poem that will get you thinking about what we want for our kids in this world.
I love how Sarah talks about breaking down the walls of communication with her students (particularly teenagers) who feel as though they have nothing to say, but using her methods actually find they can open up and share their thoughts.
Parenting teenagers is something a lot of parents (myself included) feel either scared for, or unsure about.
This is such a reassuring talk knowing that there are teachers who take these extra steps to ensure their students (aka, our kids) are being heard.
5 – Adira Svitak – What Adults Can Learn From Kids
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…).
This talk also inspires you to connect again with your inner child and ask yourself what you would see differently if you were looking at a situation through a child’s eyes.
6 – Jamie Oliver: Teach Every Child About Food
This was the very first TED Talk I ever watched (and from that moment was hooked!).
We all know Jamie as an eccentric chef who captivates out attention with his high energy cooking and love for food.
What many people don’t realise is that Jamie is also a big champion for getting healthy food in schools and teaching kids about healthy eating.
I love Jamie’s passion for teaching kids about real food and as an extension, getting real food into schools all around the world. Such an important message for our kids.
7 – Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman: Exploding 4 Taboos of Parenting
Literally, every single parent will be able to relate to this. Rufus and Alisa created the website Babble (later acquired by Disney) as a way to share real life parenting moments.
A really refreshing, uplifting and funny talk (especially the first taboo – I totally get it!)
It really opens your eyes to how alone we can feel as parents, but how so many other parents are feeling the same way too.
It reminds us that there really is a community out there around parenting, and we aren’t alone, even though there are many times when we feel this is the case.
Sometimes all we need to do is search and reach out to find our community, which can even come in the form of a blog (like Babble, or like this one, Project Hot Mess).
8 – Reshma Saujani: Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection
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 my daughter gets older this is certainly something I can relate to a lot more, especially when I sit back and think about my experiences as a young girl and as a teenager.
It really makes you think socialising girls to be brave and the differences that can be made by closing the gender gap.
This talk has certainly given me more inspiration to continue to challenge the previous ‘norms’ of raising a daughter, and teach my daughter more about being brave.
9 – Gever Tulley: 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do
Do you think we protect our kids too much?
Our generation has often been criticised for ‘wrapping our kids in bubble wrap’ and for being too protective and too gentle with our children.
While we are certainly paving the way for a more gentle parenting approach (this is a good thing), we may, in some cases, protect our children too much from ‘dangers’ they can handle and therefore learn to navigate themselves.
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.
In all honesty, this is a short list, but one that I hope inspires you to keep listening, keep learning and keep asking questions about the world and about how we raise our children.
There are so many more TED Talks and other resources on parenting, but the thing I love the most about these TED Talks for parents is that they give you a quick little mindset shift, an opportunity to look at a new perspective, and can introduce you to concepts around parenting that you may never have known existed before.
From here, after watching these parenting TED Talks, you can now choose which aspects you want to investigate more, and keep going. Search the speakers and listen to more of their philosophies, listen to podcasts, buy and read books about parenting.
Parenting is a lifelong lesson and we get to learn so much along the way, and decide what works for us as parents. Hopefully, this curation of parenting TED Talks is just a new little beginning for you.
This post was originally published in November 2017, and has been updated in July 2021.