Lesson 4: Advice for Parents About What (Not) To Say to Students

Alrighty, so students — whether you like it or not, your parents are concerned about whether you’re doing this right.


  • 2 words to stop using immediately when you talk to students about learning
  • 3 questions to ask students instead, that inspire (rather than kills) their learning
  • 10 Do’s and Don’t about how to talk to students about learning and grades

Stop using the words “Study” and “Review”.

Don’t ask: “Are you studying?” or say “Don’t forget to study”

Instead, ask my 3 favorite questions:

  • What did you do (differently) this time?
  • If you could time travel, what advice would you go back and give yourself? Exactly when would you go back to give that advice? Why?
  • How will you know you’re ready for the test? How will you know that you know everything you need to know?

To nag: Annoy or irritate with persistent _____fault finding______ or continuous ___urging_____.




1. Get Curious and ask questions

1. Lecture or feign curiosity

2. Pause. Ask consent. 

2. Ambush

3. Analyze grades.

3. Freak yourself out by checking grades alone

4. Refer to observable data

4. Blame, especially with “you always” or “you never”

5. Acknowledge effort and process

5. Hyperfocus on grades as desirable outcomes

6. Remember change takes time

6.  Expect immediate improvement

7. Make family expectations visible

7.  Agree verbally on expectations

8. Follow through. Do what you say.

8. Make threats you may not carry out

9. Celebrate mistakes as learning

9. Save your kid from mistakes

10. Have multiple ways to soothe your own anxiety

10. Wait for behavior change  to soothe anxiety

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