‘I'm not being chased by a bear' and other parenting mantras that can help you raise resilient kids according to a parental psychologist

Reciting these simple mantras can help parents to 'reflect before acting'

Mother and daughter
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A parental psychologist has shared three simple mantras parents can recite that will not only help them to practice patience and forgiveness with themselves but can also help to raise more resilient children. 

Parenting can often get overwhelming. Despite all the tips, tricks, and hacks littering the internet, some days it's all just a bit too much. It doesn't matter which popular parenting style you choose to follow, whether you're co-parenting or navigate parenting with a new partner, everyone struggles sometimes. 

It's normal to not be perfect all the time, says Aliza Pressman, a developmental psychologist, co-founder of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center, and author of the upcoming book The 5 Principles of Parenting: Your Essential Guide to Raising Good Humans. Still, no matter how much stress you're under, Pressman says you can still practice patience and forgiveness with both yourself and your children. And doing so, according to her, will help your kids to be more resilient as they grow up.

By learning to calm yourself down as a parent when things get just a bit too much, Pressman says you in turn teach your kids how not to be so reactive in stressful situations. 

So how can we calm down quickly? Luckily for us, Pressman has devised three mantras to recite in times of need that will bring you back down to Earth and remind you where you're at. 

"When you lose your temper with your child, your knee-jerk reaction might be to feel ashamed or guilty," Pressman says. "And while it's understandable that you want to be the best parent possible, it's also important to give yourself some grace." 

Therefore, her first mantra is, "More often than not, I'm the parent my child needs." She explains, "It's just a reminder that we are never going to always get it right, but our kids just need us to more often than not. It's a motivator like, 'You got this'."

The second mantra, "I'm not being chased by a bear," reminds parents that few situations require immediate and stress-inducing resolutions. "It's easy to forget that, for the most part, nothing is an emergency," Pressman says.

The mantra works to calm you down, put 'problems' into perspective and also teach your kids, through your own actions, that not everything is a life or death situation. You and them can therefore learn to take a breath and evaluate a situation before reacting to it.
The final mantra works to help parents validate their children's emotions while also not excusing the bad behaviour that results from them. "All feelings are welcome, all behaviours are not."

"I never want children or adults to feel like their actual feelings are the problem," Pressman says. What she means by that is, while it's ok to feel embarrassed when, for example, a toddler throws a tantrum in public, it's important not to suggest to the child that the feelings causing their tantrum are invalid. You want to reprimand the behaviour, not the emotion causing it. 

The mantra 'All feelings are welcome, all behaviours are not,' reminds both the parent and child to self-regulate their emotions and pool them into more helpful solutions rather than an argument. "We can contain and control how we move through the world," Pressman explains.

We can also take steps to avoid tantrums in the future by teaching kids how to manage their anger, learning how to deal with children who laugh in your face when you reprimand them, and avoiding this common pastime that's been scientifically linked to abnormal behaviour in toddlers

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Royal News and Entertainment writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer for Goodto.com. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.