Dr. Becky Kennedy Q&A: New hope if your child ‘doesn’t listen’

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The last thing I need as a parent is another professional that makes me feel bad.

Thankfully, clinical psychologist Dr. Becky Kennedy claims that parents are always and always are good people inside – and so are the kids. (She has three.)

In her new book, “Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Bethe expert known as the “parenting whisper” of the millennial generation came up with a parenting method that helps make the difference between identity and behavior.


A lot of evidence-based parenting advice, she explains, is built around principles of behavior modification. But our goal is not to shape behavior; it is to raise people.

Kennedy shared his specific strategies for parents to create the best in the world – stronger relationships with kids and improved collaboration. Her approach not only helps caregivers do better on the outside, but also helps them feel better on the inside. Checking all of these boxes is almost too much of a parenting win.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

CNN: What do you want people to understand about parenting?

Dr. Becky Kennedy: My core message is that both parents and children are internally good, meaning that they always do the best they can with the resources available to them at the time.

Dr. Becky Kennedy is known as the millennium

Often, we see behavior as a measure of who we are – hitting means my child is “bad” – rather than a clue to what they may need.

Likewise, when we behave in ways that don’t align with our values ​​- like yelling – we can see ourselves as some sort of monster that has harassed their child forever. Instead, you are a good parent struggling. This does not mean that we should not be held accountable for our behavior. This framework really allows us to take that responsibility.

All my strategies separate identity from behavior. In that gap, we can build lifelong skills that help us bring out the good within us and our children.

CNN: Did this approach work?

Kennedy: Right. The “good from within” approach not only feels right – it works, short-term and long-term.

Relying on timeouts, punishments, and sticker charts when your child was young, dependent, and scared of you could land you in disaster. When they get to 14 or 15, they’re basically saying, “I’m too big for your timeout and I don’t care about your stickers.” That is really scary.

“The Good Inside” allows parents to follow their intuition with interventions that help in the short term and build the skills our children need as adults.

CNN: How can parents and caregivers balance rule enforcement with nurturing?

Kennedy: I take a “two things can be true” approach, highlighting both firm boundaries and warm connections. This parenting model focuses as much on the parent’s personal growth as it does on the child’s development – becoming what I call a “steadfast leader” who can stay organized and calm. stay calm even when their child becomes out of control requiring self-management.

If we want our kids to have confidence instead of shame and self-blame, they need to see us see them as good kids when things get tough. It helps to choose the most broad interpretation of your child’s behavior. If your child calls you the worst mom in the world, stop, take a breath, and be curious about what need your child is really trying to express.

CNN: Does this “two things can be true” view help other relationships?

Kennedy: “Two things right” is the ultimate framework for improving any relationship. Whenever a relationship is in conflict or vying for power or trying to convince the other of our point of view, we are finding ourselves against each other.

“Two things right” is the process of evaluating your own point of view while recognizing the point of view of others. Unanimous recognition.

Here is an example. When TV time is over, no matter what, my kids will probably protest because stopping is against their will. “One thing is true”—what is true for me—the answer to my upset child was like, “We talked about this. You are really having a hard time. Now I’m going to take away tomorrow’s TV time. ” “One thing is true” – which is true for my child – the answer is like, “Oh, I mean, I guess your bedtime might be later…”

The “two right things” perspective allows me to intervene like this: “It’s really hard to stop watching—me too. One of my parenting jobs is making decisions that I think are best for them, even when they’re upset. Screen time has expired. If it’s hard for you to turn off the TV, I’ll do it for you. You are allowed to be sad. ”

Basically, what I’m saying is, “My decisions don’t dictate your feelings. And your feelings don’t dictate my decisions.”

CNN: What do you recommend for parents and caregivers worried about others’ judgment for not taking a more authoritarian approach?

Kennedy: I don’t think people judge us as much as we think we do. Despite that, I try not to let other people’s thoughts take up too much of my brain’s real estate.

We rarely know what people are thinking, so here’s my strategy: If you’re going to say what other people think about you, you can also get them to think positive, happy thoughts. When your child throws rocks in the grocery store aisle, do strangers say, “You’re a terrible parent, and your kid looks like a horrible kid”?

Instead of them judging my parenting, I imagine people saying, “I’ve been there. All children have a hard time. So do all parents.” That approach makes me feel empowered with the support of the community.

CNN: What would you say to parents who say “My child won’t listen”?

Kennedy: What we really mean when “my child disobeys” is “my child does not comply with my requests”. It’s a sign that our relationship with them is running out of connection capital – the reserve of positive emotions we’ve built between us that we can draw on over the next few days. struggle.

“Next time you’re in that stuck place with your child,” I say, “ask yourself, “Do I like my child? Do I feel close to them? Or do I find that, now, I really don’t like my kids – that I’m seeing them as enemies? ”” No effective strategy comes from the “me against my child” framework.

The first goal is always to shift your perspective to “me and my kids are on the same side against our problem.” All good things come from this approach.

Next, I asked parents to think of a situation in their adult lives where they might respond to their child. Imagine if your boss, best friend or partner asked you to do something, you didn’t comply and they said no to you, “You have a listening problem. I’ll get your iPad in a week. “We do this with our children all the time.

We have to ask them to do things they don’t want to do. But the framework matters.

CNN: What should we do when we, as parents, fall short?

Kennedy: First, if you can only focus on one aspect of improving parenting, focus on nurturing, supporting, and reinforcing your own emotional regulation skills.

Remember, we’re not robots but imperfect humans who sometimes scream when we promise ourselves we won’t. We have to do a good repair, which means reconnecting after disconnecting.

Our kids are writing the powerful blueprint they put out into the world. If we yell at our child and then we don’t talk about it, that interaction will feel like the end of a chapter with a child feeling scared and lonely, often blaming themselves.

In order to gain some self-determination or control, they adopt a “bad character” so as not to think that the people they depend on can be bad.

The repair work gives us the opportunity to write another epilogue to a chapter in the story of their world. Instead of a conflict that ends with intimidation, fear, loneliness, self-blame, and lack of confidence, we gain more compassion and connection by saying, “That probably feels scary. You were right to feel that way. It’s never your fault when I scream. I’ve had a tough day and I’m really trying to manage my emotions.” When we do that, we change the way early memories live in a child’s body.

CNN: How can parents update, after the fact, how their child is handling the experience?

Kennedy: Scary moments can exist in the body as an undefined set of sensations. Someone encountering those experiences with connection, presence, and understanding helps us feel at home with ourselves.

Making connections out of incoherence is like stitching together a quilt for our baby. Even if some of the squares are sore, tucking them together creates warmth. Good parents don’t always get it right. Good parents fix.


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