- Dr. Becky Kennedy has over 1.3 million followers on Instagram, where she shares parenting tips.
- She just released her book “Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be.”
- In an interview, she shared tips on how parents can effectively handle their kids’ big feelings.
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard of Dr. Becky Kennedy. The clinical psychologist and mom of three became Instagram famous — with over 1.3 million followers — by posting videos with a simple, no-nonsense approach. Eschewing TikTok-style reels, she looks directly into the camera and gently offers sound advice on all types of parenting needs. A podcast series — with over 3 million downloads — and a membership community soon followed.
Now parents can add the Dr. Becky philosophy to their bookshelves: Her first book, “Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be“ encapsulates Dr. Becky’s sage advice for those trying moments with your kids. “It’s going to help parents cope with their own anxiety in those situations or their own triggers along the way,” Dr. Becky said.
Validate your kids’ emotions
One of the reasons why millennial and Gen-X parents seem to connect to Dr. Becky is that her approach focuses on validation and empathy toward children.
“I think that this generation of parents now, we understand more and more about mental health,” Dr. Becky told Insider. “This generation of parents is very invested in helping their kids see their own emotional life as real and important. So I think validating your kids’ emotions is just the foundation for that.”
Let kids have those big feelings
“We want to teach our kids how to regulate their feelings,” Dr. Becky said. So though it might be easier for parents to immediately try to make their children feel better if they’re sad, frustrated, or jealous, it will help kids in the long run if they learn early on how to cope with tough feelings.
“I always call this my ‘bang for my buck’ moment,” she said. “Like, ‘I could have so much impact and help my kid here.’ The more we focus on teaching kids the skills for tough feelings, the less those feelings will act themselves out in behavior. And that’s a win for everybody.”
The ‘two things are true’ mindset
If you’ve scrolled through Dr. Becky’s Instagram, you’ve come across this catchphrase. Her book even devotes an entire chapter to this principle, which “allows you to be a parent who has both firm boundaries and warm validation,” said Dr. Becky.
It’s a tactic that acknowledges the rules set by a parent, while also acknowledging the child’s feelings. How many times have we as parents dealt with the nightly bedtime struggle of ending our child’s screen time?
Instead of taking away the tablet with a retort of “Because I said so,” Dr. Becky suggests that parents tell the child something like, “Two things are true: You’re allowed to be upset, but it’s bedtime now. So let’s plan what you’re going to watch tomorrow instead.”
How to get kids to listen
Parents need to drop the power struggle and get down on their kids’ levels. “Imagine you’re on one planet, and your kid is on a different planet,” Dr. Becky said. “If we want our kid to listen, it’s really saying to them, ‘Please step off your planet and come to mine.'” The best way to do that, she said, is by “joining a kid in their world.” Observe what your child is doing — for example, playing with blocks — and then join them for a couple of minutes before announcing something like, “Aw, it’s so hard to stop playing and get into the bath. I know!”
“When you join a kid in their world, you make a bridge from yours to theirs. Through validating what they’re doing, and then making a request, you’ve already formed a connection that listening is already based on,” she said.
Yes, whining is the worst
Dr. Becky will be the first person to say she gets annoyed by whining. But seriously, what can parents do about those ear-piercing groans? First, we need to accept that whining is a triggering behavior. “It’s not a calming sound to any human I know,” she said.
Second, parents also need to identify that whining represents “utter helplessness,” which, Dr. Becky explained, can trigger adults for reasons going back to the validation and empathy topic: So many parents were raised in families where the common attitude was, to put it politely, “Shut up and deal with it.” “When you see something in your kid that you had to shut down in yourself, you do get into a triggered response,” Dr. Becky said.