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5 Tips for Parenting in the Early Years from Dr. Becky

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Here at Vivvi, we know how important parenting in the early years is for the foundation of the family. It’s when you watch your child experience the world for the first time, and when you experience joys and worries you didn’t know were possible. It’s also when you develop your identity as a parent, and set boundaries and limits that will carry you through your child’s teen years and beyond. 

While it’s never too late to make an impact on your child, parenting in the early years can make an impact that will be felt throughout your child’s life. “Knowing why the early years matter gives us a lot of power and helps us to prepare for them better,” explains Dr. Rebecca Kennedy (aka “Dr. Becky”), clinical psychologist, mom of three and author of Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be

“During these early years, our kids are figuring out what parts of them they’re allowed to be, what feelings they’re allowed to have, and what happens when they’re sad or jealous or angry,” she continues. “It’s why our efforts and our presence during this time is so important.”

We recently invited Dr. Becky to our Tribeca Vivvi campus to talk about her new book offer some sage advice on everything from creating healthy attachment to strategies for handling common behavioral challenges. Here’s some of her most valuable tips for parenting during the early years.  

1. Boundaries and empathy should go hand in hand. But we’re often given a model of parenting that positions one versus the other. When we set a boundary, kids usually get upset because that’s what happens when people don’t get what they want. After a kid has those feelings, it’s our job to empathize with those feelings and validate them. 

2. It’s a kid’s job is to feel—and to express their feelings. And we have to allow them to do that. Either we raise a kid who has coping skills for those feelings, or we raise kids who at age 40 have the same coping skills they had when they were 2, except the stakes are a lot higher. 

3. One of the best ways to address behaviorial challenges is to have is a connection to our kids. Our kids want connection more than anything else, and they want our full attention. That’s how they feel safe. It’s so easy to be disconnected from them, especially when we’re on our phones, so I try to encourage parents to put your phone in another room and play with your kid. Give them your full attention, even if it’s just for five minutes a day or even every other day. Connection is a game-changer when it comes to challenging behaviors.

4. Practice repair. Repair is reconnecting with our kids after a moment we disconnected, maybe a moment when we yelled or were triggered or said words we didn’t really want to say. Repair matters, whether it’s 10 days later or 40 years later. Our kids feel our repair—even if they’re only 2 years old. 

5. Pair learning with connection, community, conversation, experience, or an activity that we can do to put learning into action. That’s how we rewire our own bodies, and how we change in meaningful ways.

Want to get more of Dr. Becky’s parenting advice for the early years? Check out our Vivvi webinar focused on the Power of Play here!

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