The aims of this study were to describe significant patient education sessions, and to explore nurses' empowering and traditional behavior in the patient education process of children and their families. The qualitative critical incident technique was used by interviewing 45 nurses in pediatric units. Data were analyzed using content analysis. Each starting point for patient education, educational outcome, and professional aspects was the characteristic that made patient education sessions significant. Nurses using the empowering behavior conducted the education process with holistic and multi-method need assessment, adequate preparation and objectives, patient-oriented education, and interactive communication, as well as multi-method evaluation and promotion of patient participation. Traditional behavior was described as nurse-oriented or insufficient in every phase of the process. These findings indicate that more training for nurses and administrative measures are needed in hospitals to enhance the empowering education of children and their families.