This Parenting Advice Helps You “Raise Good Humans” by Tuning In With Yourself

In "The 5 Principles of Parenting," Dr. Aliza Pressman shares her belief that by becoming more intentional people, we become better parents.

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Dr. Aliza Pressman, developmental psychologist and author of the New York Times’ bestseller The 5 Principles of Parenting, spent years researching the keys to successful parenting. What she found is that there are five core principles that can help us raise intelligent, kind, and resilient children, which she calls the five Rs: Relationships, Reflection, Regulation, Rules, and Repair. 

As Dr. Pressman writes, these five Rs help us “find that space between micromanagement and chaos” — and they’re relevant for parents and non-parents alike. These principles are the foundation of all strong relationships, and can help us be more resilient in our everyday lives. 

Here’s a breakdown of Dr. Pressman’s five principles, along with Microsteps you can take to put them into action:


Strong relationships build resilience, and it’s important to remember that raising our kids starts with our relationship with our kids. And when that relationship is healthy, supportive, and nurturing, it can fuel our kids’ ability to thrive. “The single most powerful external influence on your child’s capacity to bounce back from tough experiences is the presence of a nurturing relationship with at least one loving, supportive, stable adult,” Pressman writes. This can be as simple as making an effort to actively listen when they talk and celebrating their small wins with them, whether they’re studying for a test or trying a new sport. 

Try these Relationship Microsteps:

Join your child for five minutes of child-led play of their choosing.

Allowing your child to lead and make decisions in a play setting is a bonding opportunity that also strengthens their social skills.

Put your phone away when you’re with your kids.

Charge it in another room for a few minutes, or leave it in your pocket. Setting boundaries with devices helps you to be present, make eye contact, and listen.


Parenting can make you feel constantly busy, and the last thing on your mind might be taking time for mindfulness and reflection. But when you shift your perspective to instead focus on moments of “micro-meditations,” you can take time to reset, think about your reactions toward others, and give yourself the space you need to show up as your best self. “Even if you can’t carve out twenty minutes to meditate, start making a practice of taking a deep breath every time you walk through a doorway,” Pressman suggests. “Reflection thus provides a kind of psychological distance,” she adds, which is why it can help us maintain perspective, even on difficult days. 

Try these Reflection Microsteps:

Take a deep breath each time you move from one task to the next.

If you don’t have time for a longer meditation practice, a micro-meditation is a simple way to integrate more moments of deep, mindful breathing into your day.

Habit-stack a moment of micro-meditation when you’re with your children.

Add a moment of mindful breathing “on top of” something you already do, like washing your hands, putting on shoes, or preparing food.


Self-regulation is the ability to respond to experiences in a way that is intentional, not emotional. And when you get into the habit of pausing before reacting, you can be more mindful about your responses and create healthier communication. “Even for adults, self-regulation usually remains a work in progress… One that’s tested and strengthened in new ways by being around children,” Pressman says. 

Try these Regulation Microsteps:

Glance around the room before reacting to your child’s behavior.

Look around you and notice five colors you see. Redirecting your thoughts in the moment allows you to pause, breathe, and respond with intention.


Take one deep breath before responding to a child’s annoying behavior.

Breathing and reminding yourself “this is irritating, but not harmful” allows you to respond with intention and put the situation in perspective.


There’s more to rules than just saying “No sweets after dinner” or “Take your shoes off in the house.” Effective rules are all about teaching your kids the importance of boundaries and limits. “Boundaries are the rules one has for oneself, as well as things that happen interpersonally — or between people,” Pressman explains. “Limits are rules that refer to unacceptable behaviors.” Our children require boundaries and limits in order to feel safe, so when we establish rules, we’re teaching our kids how to set boundaries for themselves as they grow. For example, instructing them to wait their turn at the playground can teach them the importance of patience and sharing as they get older.   

Try this Rules Microstep:

Ask your child to do the positive opposite of a negative behavior.

Every negative behavior has what psychologists refer to as a positive opposite. For example, instead of saying “don’t throw your food” say “please keep the food in your mouth.”


Disagreement and disappointment are a part of life. And when it comes to healthy relationships with our kids (or anyone), that’s where Repair comes in. Pressman explains Repair as “the space in which we grow” — for example, apologizing when you forgot to buy your child’s favorite snack, giving your child a hug when they’re upset over a family decision, or spending extra time with them when they’re having a hard day. “Relationships can withstand all kinds of ruptures and mistakes,” she says. “Science shows that the healthiest relationships can grow stronger after discord.” It’s important to remember that ruptures in our relationships don’t weaken our connections, but strengthen them — enabling our kids to feel a sense of strength and growth. 

Try these Repair Microsteps:

When sharing advice or observations with your child, begin with “I wonder…”

This helps keep you from projecting onto the other person while still sharing what you’ve noticed or thought of.  For example, you may say to your child, “I wonder if you’re feeling a little uneasy about how your friend group is shaking out?”

When your child experiences disappointment, validate that feeling.

Letting them practice feeling the discomfort of disappointment for a few moments can help them get comfortable expressing a range of feelings.

Published on
February 21, 2024
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