Parent Psychologist REVEALS Top 3 Parenting MISTAKES (DO THIS to RAISE Healthy KIDS!) Dr Becky

Added: Mar 12, 2024

In this episode of The School Of Greatness, Lewis Howes interviews Dr. Becky Kennedy, a clinical psychologist and a mother of three. She emphasizes the importance of understanding that children are inherently good inside, and there is a distinction between their identity and their behavior. She believes that parents' words become a child's self-talk, shaping their self-perception and emotional regulation.

Key takeaways


Children's behavior should be separated from their identity, focusing on understanding and empathy rather than punishment.


Prioritize resilience over happiness in parenting to help children develop emotional regulation and cope with challenges effectively.


Use phrases like 'I'm so glad you're talking to me about this' and 'Tell me more' to create a safe space for emotional processing.


Set boundaries in parenting to provide structure and safety for children, balancing empathy with leadership.


Focus on repair and connection in parenting to strengthen the parent-child bond and create a nurturing environment for growth and healing.

Parenting as a Challenging Job

Dr. Kennedy highlights that parenting is one of the most important and challenging jobs in the world. However, it is also a role for which individuals receive minimal training. She compares the lack of preparation for parenting to a surgeon attempting a surgery without proper medical education. Parents often feel shame in seeking support, believing they should be able to handle parenting on their own.

Separating Behavior from Identity

One of Dr. Kennedy's key principles is the importance of separating a child's behavior from their identity. She emphasizes that understanding a child's behavior is crucial before attempting to change it. By recognizing that a child is good inside, parents can approach challenging behaviors with empathy and a focus on understanding rather than punishment.

Resilience Over Happiness

Dr. Kennedy challenges the common belief that parents should strive to make their children happy. Instead, she advocates for prioritizing resilience over happiness. She explains that focusing on happiness can lead to children becoming fearful of negative emotions and lacking the ability to regulate their emotions effectively. Resilience, on the other hand, involves the capacity to tolerate difficult emotions and situations, ultimately leading to greater emotional well-being.

Building Resilience in Children

To build resilience in children, Dr. Kennedy emphasizes the importance of teaching them to tolerate challenging situations. She provides an example of a child struggling with a puzzle and constantly asking for help. Instead of immediately solving the puzzle for the child, parents can use the opportunity to teach resilience by encouraging the child to persist and work through the challenge independently. By allowing children to experience and navigate difficult emotions and situations, parents can help them develop the skills needed to cope with adversity in the future.

Dr. Kennedy introduces three key phrases that parents can use to build resilience in their children. The first phrase is "I'm so glad you're talking to me about this," which conveys acceptance and support for the child's emotions. The second phrase is "I believe you," which validates the child's feelings and helps them feel understood. The third phrase is "Tell me more," encouraging the child to express their emotions and experiences further.

She explains that by using these phrases, parents can create a safe space for their children to process their emotions and develop resilience. By staying connected and engaged with their children's feelings, parents can help them navigate through difficult situations and build confidence in their ability to handle challenges.

Challenges in Building Resilience

Dr. Kennedy acknowledges the challenges parents face in building resilience in children, especially in a world filled with distractions and instant gratification. She addresses the concerns of older generations who may question the need for in-depth emotional conversations and support, given the demands and hardships they faced in their time.

She emphasizes the importance of prioritizing emotional well-being and resilience in today's fast-paced world. Dr. Kennedy believes that emotions are not soft but primary indicators of survival and needs. By helping children develop emotional regulation skills and providing a supportive environment, parents can prepare them to navigate life's challenges effectively.

The Role of Parents in Shaping Self-Talk

Dr. Kennedy underscores the significant impact parents have on their children's self-talk. The words and messages parents convey to their children become internalized and shape the child's self-perception. By fostering a positive and supportive environment, parents can help cultivate a healthy self-talk in their children, promoting resilience and emotional well-being.

The Importance of Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation is identified as a critical skill for both children and adults. Dr. Kennedy highlights the significance of learning to navigate and manage a wide range of emotions effectively. By teaching children how to regulate their emotions and tolerate discomfort, parents can help them develop resilience and cope with life's challenges more effectively.

She uses the analogy of a dimmer switch, where the goal is to lower the intensity of emotions rather than completely turning them off. This approach helps individuals tolerate and work through their emotions gradually, leading to better resilience in the long run.

Dr. Kennedy highlights the importance of parents modeling emotion regulation for their children. By acknowledging and validating their child's feelings, parents can help them learn to manage their emotions effectively. She also emphasizes the need for parents to set boundaries and time limits for emotional discussions to prevent feelings from becoming overwhelming.

Importance of Validating Feelings and Setting Boundaries

Dr. Kennedy explains that validating children's feelings is essential but incomplete as a parenting strategy. While it is crucial to acknowledge and validate their emotions, it is equally important to set boundaries and maintain a leadership role within the family. She uses the analogy of a pilot and passengers on a turbulent plane to illustrate the concept of boundaries and leadership in parenting. A good leader acknowledges the passengers' fears and concerns but remains calm and in control, reassuring them that they will safely reach their destination. This approach demonstrates empathy for the passengers' feelings while maintaining boundaries and leadership.

The Role of Boundaries in Parenting

Boundaries are defined as what parents tell their children they will do, and they require the children to do nothing in return. Dr. Kennedy emphasizes that boundaries are not requests but statements of what will happen. For example, if a child is jumping on the couch, a parent can set a boundary by calmly stating, "I need you to stop jumping on the couch. You can jump on the floor instead." This approach establishes clear expectations and consequences without relying on punishment or coercion.

Challenges in Setting Boundaries

Dr. Kennedy acknowledges that many parents struggle with setting boundaries due to misconceptions about their role in parenting. Some parents may feel guilty or uncomfortable enforcing boundaries, fearing that it will make them appear harsh or unsupportive. However, she emphasizes that boundaries are essential for creating a sense of safety and structure for children. By setting clear boundaries and teaching children appropriate skills, parents can help them navigate challenges and develop resilience.

Dr. Kennedy emphasizes the importance of empathy in parenting but cautions against allowing children to dictate family decisions. While it is essential to validate children's feelings, parents must also maintain boundaries and uphold their role as leaders within the family. By striking a balance between empathy and boundaries, parents can create a supportive and structured environment for their children to thrive.


Dr. Kennedy challenges the traditional approach of using punishment as a means of discipline. She argues that punishment is often a reaction to the parent's own emotions rather than an effective way to address children's behavior. Punishment can lead to feelings of shame, resentment, and insecurity in children, ultimately hindering their emotional development. Instead of focusing on punishment, Dr. Kennedy advocates for teaching children new skills and addressing the underlying reasons for their behavior.

For example, if a child is having a tantrum, instead of sending them to their room or taking away privileges, parents can help them identify and manage their emotions. By teaching children coping strategies and problem-solving skills, parents can empower them to make better choices in the future.

Repair and Connection

Dr. Kennedy stresses the importance of repair and connection in parenting. She believes that repairing relationships after conflicts or misunderstandings is crucial for building trust and strengthening the parent-child bond. By focusing on repair and connection, parents can create a supportive and nurturing environment for their children to thrive.

Preparation for Challenging Situations

Dr. Kennedy discusses the importance of preparing children for challenging situations, such as dealing with bullies or difficult interactions. She suggests creating scenarios where children can practice responding calmly and assertively, rather than reacting impulsively. By simulating challenging situations, parents can help children develop the skills and resilience needed to navigate tough circumstances.

Healing and Growth

Dr. Kennedy acknowledges the importance of healing and growth in parenting. She encourages parents to reflect on their own experiences and traumas to better understand how they may impact their parenting style. By addressing past wounds and seeking support, parents can create a more nurturing and supportive environment for their children to thrive.

Definition of Greatness

Dr. Kennedy defines greatness as a combination of internal fulfillment and external impact. She believes that greatness is achieved when individuals are deeply passionate and driven by their purpose, leading to positive change and inspiration in others. By igniting a sense of purpose and authenticity, individuals can create a ripple effect of positivity and empowerment in their communities.


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