Discover more from Among the Wildflowers
What Would Dr. Becky Do?
‘WWDBD’ I might get this tattooed on my hand, always available, immediately visible. ‘What would Dr. Becky do?’ is a mantra I have come to ask myself about 1782374624 times a day. And maybe I get it ‘right’ 4% of the time. But I’ll call that a win, because you know what, parenting is HARD.
We recently got back from our first trip as a family of four and I felt like I needed a temporary hall pass from motherhood. Because “vacations” with kids are full of these moments:
I’m on a beautiful beach, with beautiful weather, with my two beautiful kids. Husband is surfing. I’m breastfeeding my daughter, watching my son play. We’re happy. I’m feeling accomplished. And then I’m quickly snapped out of it when my 3-year-old starts throwing sand at us. Several times. Of course with every ‘no, amor’, ‘careful, mi amor’ comes another strike. Me covering her eyes, trying to get up and remove myself, because that’s what I can control. But I’m sitting in a very low chair, and I’m trying to get up without using my hands, evidently struggling, while trying not to yell, trying to explain why we don’t throw sand. Because, ‘He couldn’t know any better, right?’ (I mean, right now I think he could.) ‘The kid just needs attention, right?’ (Ok but he has had our attention, for almost two weeks straight).
I lose my mantra.
Yelling, of course, ensues.
Threats of no açaí bowls follow. (Ha, terrible move, and that would mean we actually need to prepare a meal.)
More is said - which I’ll just leave off the page for now.
Damn. There goes another battle lost. ‘My center’ lost.
The aftermath involves a combination of: me being pissed off, me telling Husband he can never ever go in the ocean ever again… and me feeling terribly guilty. Because it always ends that way, with the guilt, the shame.
We’ve all been there, right? (Please nod.)
Then I remember my mantra again. ‘What would Dr. Becky do?’ And I give myself some grace. Because ‘I’m a good mom who’s just having a hard time’.
Dr. Becky, or the “The Millennial Parenting Whisperer”, is the parenting guide my soul has craved. The one who gives you effective tools to handle all types of situations. Tools which actually feel good to implement and allow you to leave behind the good ol’ days of punishment, threats, time-outs, et al. Strategies that empower you in talking to your kids AND in talking to yourself through the difficult moments.
So to all moms & dads out there (particularly those outside the US who may not have heard of her yet!), this one’s for you. Because if you don’t follow Dr. Becky’s work, you 100% should. It will ROCK your world.
She recently released her first book and I just jumped in. I was going to wait and finish it before sharing this, but really, I can’t wait and neither should you. So instead, let’s start our own little book club and read it together, shall we?! Go get yourself a copy NOW, I know you’ll be happy you did.
In the meantime, I’ll give you a gist of her work through some of the reframes that have blown my mind and heart away. I hope she does the same for you.
AT ITS CORE
Dr. Becky’s work is premised on the idea that all kids are ‘Good Inside’. They’re good kids going through a tough time. Now, doesn’t this framing already give you a full body exhale? When tantrums occur, when brother hits sister, when teenagers act out, when…you name it… let’s toss away all labeling around ‘being bad’, and remind ourselves that, even while a scenario may be triggering the hell out of us, there is something bigger going on underneath.
As Dr. Becky opens in her book:
...many parents see behavior as the measure of who our kids are, rather than using behavior as a clue to what our kids might need.”
Let’s let that sink in. Behavior does not equal identity. Can we allow this idea to create space between the behavior we witness and our response?
That’s the goal at least, certainly not always easy. But Dr. Becky reminds us that we’re good inside too. Even when we ‘mess up’ in how we respond; we can try again next time. At least we’re trying. ‘We’re good parents having a hard time.’
And honestly, I’m not sure if I use her philosophies more on my kids or on myself, my self-talk, my talk to other adults. It’s gold for ANY relationship.
This is where I first started following Dr. Becky, immediately taken by her innovative, compassionate, and often vulnerable shares that are easily digestible. I’m constantly forwarding them to my husband, ‘Did you see what I sent you?!’.
A couple favorites are:
Stop Saying “That makes mommy sad.” - Not gonna lie, I used to say this a lot. [Cue sad pout, slouched shoulders, eyes looking down; Hollywood-level performance.] I thought I was teaching empathy; to recognize and be sensitive to others’ feelings. But Dr. Becky effectively explains that telling your kid they made you feel a certain negative way is mainly building codependency, making them even more scared of their own feelings. And this my friends, we don’t want. Just like with any concerning behavior, she encourages us to dig into what’s going on inside our kid and model empathy in the exchange, such as ‘Wow, those are big words, you must be feeling big feelings.’ And explore. Let’s get to the source and give our kids the tools to regulate emotions.
Stop the Spiral - I love these videos where Dr. Becky shares from her own experience, recording almost in the midst of it all. This is one of the gems where we witness Dr. Becky as a mom herself, struggling, giving herself some grace, and being vulnerable with us. Because we are not alone in these feelings. Here we learn how, when we feel overwhelmed, like we just can’t handle it all, we can choose one small thing we can do. And how taking that one action might be the change of mindset we needed to open ourselves up to the rest. I’ve certainly felt this overwhelmed many times. Most vividly when my husband was traveling and both kids woke up in the middle of the night, at the same time. One needing feeding, one having night terrors. Just great. How could I divide myself? Hearing all the wailing didn’t help. This did.
FROM THE POD
Her podcast, Good Inside with Dr. Becky, delivers weekly goods. Whether it's a solo episode where she speaks to experiences from other parents, or episodes where she interviews experts in various fields, Dr. Becky dives into a wide range of topics, giving us new ways to think about things, and practical strategies to go along with it. (ps - I’ve dreamt of having a pod-squad with other moms to chat after listening to these. Any takers?)
One episode that blew me away is: Let’s Stop Calling Kids “Shy”
As a long-identified ‘shy’ person (often mostly just an introvert), and seeing some ‘shy’ traits in my son, listening to this gave me a whole new perspective.
For starters, can we try to shy-away (ha) from labeling our kids? The more we label them, the more they hear it and label themselves, then the more they will feel ‘locked into it’ and live up to that label. Instead, can we offer ‘more generous’ interpretations of what’s happening, speak to the circumstance in a curious way, and let our kids discover who they are for themselves? (This certainly applies to all kinds of labels.) Even when we hear our kids describe themselves as shy, we can help them change their own framing. Below are a couple suggestions Dr. Becky offers on how to approach this:
Shy? I don’t know, you’re just figuring out how to be with new people.” Or simply validating their feelings with something like: “There’s something about being with other people that feels tricky, I get that.”
Now this next concept really knocked me off my chair and changed my views on shyness forever:
When our kids are older […] we define confidence as knowing what’s right, even when other people […] are doing something different. And yet when our kids are younger, we often have the exact opposite definition. Kids who can be labeled as shy, are really kids who are in situations saying ‘I see what people want me to do, I see what other people are doing, I notice the crowd, and I don’t want to do that, I’m not ready to do that [yet].’ That’s confidence!”
I mean, MIC DROP! So much of what Dr. Becky shares is about teaching kids to listen to their own body and respond for themselves, to honor their own truths. This applies to all kinds of areas, including how they eat, how they give & receive affection, and more. But it truly is fascinating to stop and realize that some behaviors we value in childhood can be the opposite of what we value in teenage years and into adulthood. It’s no surprise we can struggle.
Now, when I see my son not immediately join the dance party in music class, my words have changed from those of encouragement and convincing, to those of holding space.
How can we all help our kids learn to know themselves, to listen to themselves better, even if what their body is telling them is not what we as parents had hoped?
FROM THE PLATFORM
If you want to dive deeper into a particular theme you’re struggling with - or how about a whole bunch of ‘em - she’s got you! The Good Inside platform has vast and valuable resources at your fingertips. A deep inventory of workshops, scripts, and tips, covering topics like tantrums, deeply feeling kids, sleep, sibling dynamics, couples communication, and lots more. You can purchase each individual workshop or become a member of the community and have unlimited access to everything - a game-changer! Particularly when you’re going through ‘a phase’ and feel like you need help in basically all areas of life; I know we’ve been there.
We had a lot of change in our house the last few months. My little man was going through several big transitions at the same time - new school, new room, big-boy bed, new sister, ditching diapers - and well, simply being a 2 year old. Power struggles were REAL. Listening was non-existent. Whining was the default communication mode. ‘No’, by far the favorite word. All while getting up multiple times during the night. We were desperate. Membership to the rescue! Because even if things don’t change overnight, Dr. Becky’s resources make you feel empowered from the get-go, and like you’re not alone.
Here’s a big idea I learned in the “Listening, Refusal, & Power Struggles” workshop which truly inspired me:
We can actually be firm in our boundaries AND be compassionate, validating our kids’ feelings. We don’t have to only be tough and mean. We don’t have to only be soft and give in. The duality can exist, folks, two things can be true! This magic sauce allows us to remain the sturdy leaders our kids need, while continuing to model empathy.
One way I find myself using this often is: “I know you would like to read another book tonight but we already read two and that’s our magic number. You’re upset because you want to read Gruffalo too, I understand, I also like that book. Tell you what, I’ll put it aside and make sure we read it tomorrow.” Doesn’t mean the whining will immediately stop, but the energy in the room usually does shift.
At the end of the day, I love Dr. Becky’s philosophies because they’re helping me rewire my ingrained patterns, patterns which bring about sides of me I don’t like. And because I feel seen along the way.
Parenting is hard. I hope finding Dr. Becky helps you in your journey too.