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Looking for the best TED talks to watch with your kids?
Our children are the key to the future—but they can only be that key if they have been raised well, in a healthy environment.
In this post, we share with you 21 TED Talks for kids and by kids that can aid you in raising a child with a good heart. These videos may be short, but they say a lot when it comes to describing the values each and every person (not just kids) need to enrich their lives.
So, if you want your children (and even yourself) to increase their happiness and reach their highest potential, read on and check out our list.
1. What Adults Can Learn from Kids
Via Adora Svitak
This TED Talk is probably the most popular of the bunch. Adora Svitak, a child prodigy, explains how children see the world with a broader perspective. She claims that adults need to think like children sometimes, and be a little more “childish.”
Svitak explains to her audience that children have the biggest dreams. She cites Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Charlie Simpson as examples of people who managed to help the world in the most significant ways, despite being “just” children.
This TED Talk is not just for kids—it is also for those who are kids at heart. Whatever your age, you need to hear Svitak talk about life and what each person can offer to the world.
2. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Based on a book with the same title, this TED Talk features Angela Lee Duckworth talking about how to properly use grit and self-control to be successful in life. She shares the secret to achievement: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, not talent and intelligence (a many people think).
What inspired Duckworth to complete her book and give her talk was her own experience. She was often regarded as someone who lacked the talent and skill to become like her father, who was a scientist.
But when she grew up to become a New York public school teacher, she realized that even if a person is talented and intelligent, he wouldn’t necessarily be successful if he doesn’t have the grit to make his dreams happen.
3. The Best Kindergarten You’ve Ever Seen
Via Takaharu Tezuka
This talk is about Fuji Kindergarten—the best kindergarten you will ever see. Fuji Kindergarten was founded in 2007 by Takaharu Tezuka, an architect who received his graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
The school was designed to let kids be kids in the most natural way. It is circular in shape, and does not threaten or frighten kids into being quiet.
Basically, Tezuka wants to teach children how to be independent. He believes that kids should learn how to fall and then stand up and get back on their feet, all on their own.
4. A 12-Year-Old App Developer
Via Thomas Suarez
Thomas Suarez is not your ordinary 12-year-old kid. While most boys his age are busy playing video games, his focus is on building one, and teaching other kids how to do the same.
This amazing boy is also a confident public speaker. Indeed, there are other young developers out there, some who are way younger than him, but Mr. Suarez stands out because of his confidence to share his motivational words with the world.
The iPhone app he built is called “Bustin Jieber,” which is a “whack-a-mole” game that allows you whack the Biebs. Today, he has his own company called CarrotCorp.
5. Yup, I Built a Nuclear Fusion Reactor
Via Taylor Wilson
Taylor Wilson believes that kids can change the world and the future, so he built a nuclear fusion reactor as a solution to society’s energy needs. Want to know where he built it? In his parents’ garage!
The nuclear fusion reactor was completed when he was just 14. When he turned 17, he went on the TED stage to share his short yet very inspiring story.
According to Mr. Wilson, he wants other kids to know that they can change the future and make a difference just like he did. He aims to be an inspiration to the other young scientists out there.
6. Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling
Via Emilie Wapnick
A common question asked by adults of many young people is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This may be an easy question to answer for really young kids, but as days and years go by, it becomes harder.
This is because some kids develop multiple potentials. They become extremely talented in a variety of areas—a true jack of all trades.
Emilie Wapnick argues that it is okay if you are not yet sure what you want to do. She explains that, as a child turning into a teen and then a young adult, it is okay if you have a wide range of interests. You will land on different jobs and do a lot of things in your lifetime, but you will still have a hard time determining which is your true calling.
And that is totally fine. There is no need to feel rattled and pressured. Just embrace who you are, and become happy with whatever you do. Who knows? The world might need more people with lots of potential.
7. Science Is for Everyone, Kids Included
Via Beau Lotto and Amy O’Toole
This TED Talk is by Beau Lotto and Amy O’Toole. Beau Lotto is a neuroscientist who thinks that everyone—kids included—should learn and apply science. He believes that this type of participation is achievable if people will try to discover more things and change their perception.
Amy O’Toole is a 12-year-old student who helped run a science experiment using Lotto’s approach. She is one of the youngest people ever to have published a peer-reviewed science paper. She accompanies Lotto in this talk to inspire other children to be engaged in the study and application of science.
8. A Promising Test for Pancreatic Cancer…From a Teenager
Via Jack Andraka
Many people are diagnosed with cancer every day, and some of them are pancreatic cancer patients that have been diagnosed late. This means that they have a lower chance of survival.
But with Jack Andraka’s invention, pancreatic cancer can now be detected immediately. In this TED Talk, he shares the story of how he discovered this cheap, sensitive cancer detector at a very young age.
At the same time, Jack tries to convince the world—and particularly children—to dream big and learn new things. Who knows? Your kid could be the person who discovers the actual cure for cancer.
9. How I Harnessed the Wind
William Kamkwamba is famous for building an electricity-producing windmill made out of spare parts and scrap. His story was actually turned into a book and movie entitled “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.”
He was 14 back then, struggling to overcome poverty and famine. Today, he is 22 and delivering a TED Talk to inspire more people to reach their highest potential and be the change they want to see in the world.
10. Underwater Astonishments
Via David Gallo
This TED Talk is perfect for children, as it shows the beauty of nature underwater. Delivered by David Gallo, it talks about the works of Edith Widder and Roger Hanlon, two other pioneer ocean explorers.
Gallo argues that our oceans are barely explored, but that they hold incredible wonders. You might be surprised to know that 97% of the world’s oceans have not yet been explored, and many things that lie underwater remain hidden.
If you check out this show with your kid, you will surely have a great time appreciating the ocean and what lies beneath.
11. Everyday Leadership
Via Drew Dudley
According to Drew Dudley, leadership is innate in all of us—he doesn’t believe that it is just for extraordinary people.
In this talk, Dudley shares his thoughts on how people can discover the “leader” within them. He imparts his knowledge about leadership and how it can improve our daily lives.
If you want your sons and daughters to become great leaders, watch this TED Talk with them. Who knows—they could end up being the President of the United States!
12. A Life Lesson from a Volunteer Firefighter
Via Mark Bezos
Mark Bezos is a volunteer firefighter and assistant captain of a fire company in New York. But his main job is at Robin Hood, a poverty-fighting charity based in New York City that provides for poor people.
In this TED Talk, Mark Bezos challenges his audience to make a difference in the world, and in somebody else’s life. You do not have to wait for an opportunity to be the hero—you can make an impact through the smallest acts of kindness.
13. A Warrior’s Cry Against Child Marriage
Via Memory Banda
A leader for girls’ rights, Memory Banda shares the story of how her strength and dedication changed her life path. She talks about how she managed to have a different future from that of her sister.
At a very young age, her sister was sent to an “initiation camp.” This traditional camp taught young girls how to arouse men and please them in bed. Her sister got pregnant at the age of 11.
Banda refused to go when it was her turn. She organized a group to convince their community leader to issue a law prohibiting girls under 18 years old from getting married. She succeeded, and even extended her advocacy to a national level.
Her story is a unique act of bravery that is worth sharing with millions of people all around the world.
14. Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection
Via Reshma Saujani
One very special line Reshma Saujani shares in this talk is “I need each of you to tell every young woman you know to be comfortable with imperfection.”
Saujani wants girls to be taught bravery and strength, rather than perfection. According to her, there are two skills girls need to learn to be successful: taking risks and programming a computer.
Reshma Saujani has one goal, and that is to engage millions of women in computer science by 2020. We are well into the digital era, and she believes that we need to help women keep up with the technological advances in the world.
15. My Invention That Made Peace with Lions
Via Richard Turere
In this TED Talk, Richard Turere shares how he made peace with lions and prevented a bloodbath, back when he was a 13-year-old Maasai boy.
Cattle are the most important creature in the Maasai community. Villagers do whatever it takes to protect their cattle. When lion attacks became frequent, the people had no choice but to take matters into their hands and kill the lions.
This is not the solution that Turere envisioned. He wanted a more peaceful solution for the lions. So he invented “lion lights,” which are solar-powered bulbs that scare lions away during the night.
In this talk, Turere explains how things can be solved in a peaceful manner. There is no need to shed blood or take lives—whether of animals or people—as there are always alternatives.
16. Dare to Dream Big
This live performance during TEDxHollywood inspired millions of students to keep dreaming big, continue believing in themselves, and have the courage to stand their ground no matter what.
Delivered by fashion designer Isabella Rose Taylor, the speech was also intended to explain the value of having a strong support system.
Although this speech has not yet reached mainstream media, you can check it out on YouTube and Taylor’s page. Watch it together with your kids so they can learn the importance of commitment and a determined mindset.
17. 8 Secrets of Success
Via Richard St. John
According to Richard St. John, there are eight words to ponder when you want to achieve success: passion, work, good, focus, push, serve, ideas, and persist. He says that if you want to do something and make a living from it, you should first do it for love and not for the money.
People succeed in life not because of intelligence or luck, but because of a combination of St. John’s eight secrets. You need to have the passion to work for it, never stop practicing until you become good and then eventually better than the rest, put your focus into it and keep pushing yourself, serve the people with what you do, keep the ideas flowing, and keep on persevering until you reach your goal.
18. What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness
Via Robert Waldinger
Robert Waldinger spent almost his entire life studying happiness and where it really comes from. Fame and popularity? No. Money? Still no.
Three things bring happiness: social connections, high-quality, close interactions, and good relationships. Happiness, according to him, is all about finding the right people to share life with.
Waldinger suggests that with these three things, not only do people feel happy, they also become healthy. Establishing good relationships helps in achieving a one-of-a-kind, happy life.
19. Living Beyond Limits
Via Amy Purdy
When Amy Purdy was 19, she suffered from meningitis and lost both her legs. But now, she is a professional snowboarder. She even joined Dancing with the Stars and crushed the competition.
In this TED Talk, she talks about how she drew inspiration from the incident and pushed herself beyond her limits, motivating herself to do things that most people thought were impossible.
Amy Purdy is truly an inspiration to all people, not just kids. There are a lot of things that can be learned from her.
20. Weird, or Just Different?
Via Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers encourages his audience to think differently. How? There are two ways: surround yourself with diversity and flip the coin upside down.
Having had the opportunity to live in different countries, Sivers learned that a view of different cultures can help you see the world from various perspectives. You learn to appreciate things that you normally wouldn’t even notice.
Once you have considered all factors on one side of the coin, flip it over and consider the other angles. Discuss these views with people, and you might be surprised at how many ideas come up.
This TED Talk is marketed toward business owners and entrepreneurs. Nonetheless, it is also a good show for children, as it teaches the value of open-mindedness.
21. The Happy Secret to Better Work
Via Shawn Achor
According to psychologist Shawn Achor, there are five things you need to maintain a happy life: gratitude, journaling, exercise, meditation, and random acts of kindness.
Achor believes that you do not need to work hard to be happy, but that it is actually the other way around—you need to be happy so you can become productive and be able to work hard. Happiness is what inspires us to do more and be more.
Final Thoughts on the Best TED Talks for Kids
Children can learn from adults the values they need to become good people. But at the same time, there is a lot to learn from children—especially how they see the world through their innocent eyes.
Sometimes, we get too focused on adult things and forget how to be happy. But if we just rest for a while and keep our eyes open, we will see that the world is a beautiful place to live.
We hope that, with the list we provided, we were able to help you find the best TED talks for your kids. We recommend checking out all these short videos to help your children develop good characteristics and unique abilities.
And if you want more fun resources for kids, check out these blog posts:
- 15 Social Skills Activities to Help Your Kids Emotionally Develop
- 12 Self-Awareness Activities for Kids & Young Students
- 9 Printable Feelings Chart Examples for Kids
Finally, if you want to level up your parenting skills, then check out this resource that will show you how to get your kids to listen WITHOUT yelling, nagging, or losing control.