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Parents, do yourself a favor and read "Good Inside"

Dr. Becky Kennedy will have you rethinking your approach to parenting and maybe even how you were raised.

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Clinical psychologist and mom of three Dr. Becky Kennedy wrote "Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be". The book was published in 2022.
Danielle Teigen / The Forum

I was recently talking with a friend whose daughter had had a baby, and the first-time mother was understandably nervous about what she should be doing as a mom. Her own mother, my friend, wisely encouraged her to stop reading so much online and simply let her own instincts guide her. I was immediately taken back to my first few weeks of motherhood nearly a decade ago, when my own mom offered me the same advice.

In preparation for birth and caring for a newborn, I had devoured as many parenting books and blogs as possible, hoping to imbue myself with as much sage advice as possible to ensure the journey started as smoothly as possible. That was nonsense, of course, because parenting books are full of extremes or average experiences and no two children are ever the same. Don't even get me started on the countless books about sleep training โ€” that dizzying number is enough to make any parent want to bang their head against the wall in frustration.

But "Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be" by Dr. Becky Kennedy is a different kind of parenting book.

Reading it felt like having a beloved friend next to you, holding your hand and patting you on the back as you navigate the tricky road of parenting. Dr. Becky (as she's affectionately known to her 1.7 million Instagram followers) calmly and rationally tells you that you are a good person who wants to be a good parent for your child, who is inherently good inside. (Hence the name of her parenting brand "Good Inside". ) Just that premise alone feels like a revelation, because it focuses inward, on the person, rather than the behavior a parent often wishes to change/improve/modify, etc.

The book is broken into two parts: in the first part, Dr. Becky shares her parenting principles, how she arrived at those principles and the research behind why they work and what they aim to do. The second part is the application part for parents; she presents several common behavioral issues (tantrums, rudeness, whining, food habits, separation anxiety, etc., and offers different strategies for effectively dealing with them. The key to everything in her book is to focus on connecting with children first, then work to change or modify a behavior.

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Self-trust is the essence of confidence. Confidence is our ability to feel at home with ourselves in the widest range of feelings possible.
Dr. Becky Kennedy from "Good Inside"

Dr. Becky recognizes the change she advocates for and how this parenting approach could feel different for many who were raised under a very different approach. She wants parents to focus more on understanding because "behavior is not a measure of who our kids are but rather a clue as to what our kids need."

In a moment of behavioral upheaval, Dr. Becky encourages parents to focus on the inherent goodness of their child before worrying about the behavior; she writes, "In moments of emotional dysregulation, tell your child: 'It's okay. You're a good kid having a hard time.'" The phrase can be said back to parents as well after an angry outburst or moment of frustration, she writes.

The entire book is full of so many pieces of wisdom and tactics for connecting with our children that I have no doubt you'll walk away with new strategies and an improved mindset regarding your lowest parenting moments or biggest parenting struggles. I'm a copious note-taker, so here are my favorite bits of wisdom from "Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be":

Our feelings are forces.

The feelings we don't permit ourselves to have are more likely to catapult out of our bodies as behavior. With children, it's important to remind them they are allowed to feel however they are feeling. Tell them, "You're the only one in your body, so you're the only one who can know how you feel and what you want." Additionally, for parents who might not understand why a child is crying in a particular instance, remember "bodies never lie. Tears are the body's way of sending a message about how someone is feeling. I don't have to like my or my kid's tears...but I have to respect them."

Work on giving the most generous interpretation in any situation.

This goes for interactions with everyone, not just children. When a negative situation happens, stop to consider what may be going on inside that person before reacting with anger or defensiveness.

"Choosing the most generous interpretation of your child's behavior does not mean you are 'being easy' on them, but rather you are framing their behavior in a way that will help them build critical emotion regulation skills for their future โ€” and you're preserving your connection and close relationship along the way," she writes.

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Dr. Becky Kennedy is a clinical psychologist and parenting expert. Special to On the Minds of Moms

Consider applying the "Two Things Are True" principe.

This principle relies on the idea of multiplicity, the idea that multiple realities exist at any given time. Recognizing the reality of the other person validates them and allows you to build better connections. The principle "relies on the assumption that no one is right in the absolute, because understanding, not convincing is what makes people feel secure in a relationship".

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Work on the repair

Parenting should be defined by whether we connect with our kids after a struggle and whether we explore how those moments felt to them and work to repair the rupture . It's important to go back, and non-defensively show we care about the discomfort our kids experience. Good parents don't get it right all the time. Good parents repair.

Sit on the Feeling Bench with your kid

When your child is having big feelings, think of that like a park bench they are sitting on alone. Take the time to sit with them on that Feeling Bench to make sure they understand that their big feelings do not scare you away. You, as their parent, are there for them to make them feel less alone in their big feelings.

I could go on (trust me, I have pages and pages of notes), but you get the idea. Dr. Becky wants all parents to see the best in themselves and their children, so that we as a generation can serve as a pivot point in intergenerational family patterns and raise confident, secure children who grow up to be confident, secure adults.

To learn more about Dr. Becky, follow her on Instagram or check out her podcast, "Good Inside".

Danielle Teigen has a bachelor's degree in journalism and management communication as well as a master's degree in mass communication from North Dakota State University. She has worked for Forum Communications since May 2015, first as a digital content manager before becoming the Life section editor and then deputy editor. In 2020, Danielle recently moved back to her hometown in South Dakota, where she works remotely for Forum Communications as managing editor of On the Minds of Moms as well as writes occasional news and history stories.
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