The most important first step in any “how to” parenting post

If you're frustrated that those "how to" parenting strategies aren't working, you may be missing this important first step!

A few weeks ago I broke the garbage disposal.

On a whim, I checked YouTube. Yep, there was a video titled, “How to fix your garbage disposal.”

I followed the steps and it was working again in no time.

As parents, we are guilty of googling and searching YouTube for a lot more than home repairs. We search for everything…how to potty train, how to help a child with anxiety, how to respond when a child is disrespectful.

The list is endless.

There may be 167,934,820 “How to” videos about your particular concern, but here’s the thing – kids are not garbage disposals. (I know some of you may disagree on this point.)

Parenting is not about following a 3-step process to raising great kids. It’s not about finding the “right” video to end your child’s annoying behavior.

It’s about you.

The missing step in those “how to” posts.

Somewhere along the line, parenting became more about creating a robot who immediately responded to your every request with a smile on their face.

Parents lost sight of the fact that kids are people! They have big feelings, good days and bad days. They are learning and growing, but they have a long way to go before they are able to self-regulate without support.

Kids need parents who are confident in their parenting, who take responsibility for their actions and control their emotions (or who are willing to work toward these goals).

Not many “How to” posts start there.

Guiding and supporting our kids may take more energy than slapping a “rules and consequences” chart up on the wall and taking away points for disobedience…

But it works.

Which is why I believe the first step in any “How to” parenting post should start with You!

  • Before you google, “How to end my child’s whining” –  You need to understand why this behavior bothers you so much.
  • Before you google, “How to get my angry child to calm down” – You need to figure out why it’s so hard for you to control your anger when they are upset.
  • Before you google, “How to get my kids to stay in bed” – You need to do a little self-care so you can make it through the bedtime routine without losing your cool.
  • Before you google, “How to get my kids to listen to me” – You need to find outside support to manage the waves of shame that still haunt you from your past.


That’s a little harsh, isn’t it?

I’m not suggesting that you need to be a perfect person before you are able to parent well (because we all know that’s impossible).

Instead, I’m suggesting that you stop putting the focus on your kids’ behavior before you do your part.

I’m encouraging you to take the lead. To be the adult. To get the help you need to be successful.

Once that is in place, you can turn your attention to your kids. You may be able to put the strategies in those “How to” posts to good use.

Or, you may find that once you get your own “stuff” out of the way, things fall into place on their own.

The first step: You.

What challenges are keeping you up at night? What parenting concern are you googling?

Are you willing to take a step back and focus on YOU first?


Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What feelings do I experience in this situation? (anxiety, frustration, fear, concern, stress, disappointment, etc)
  • What thoughts do I have in this situation? (“I’m a failure,” “He’ll never learn,” “She should be able to control her emotions by now,” etc.)
  • Which of your own behaviors may be influencing the situation? (Yelling, bribing, giving in, over-protecting, pouting, shaming, blaming, panicking, etc.)
  • What outside influences, voices, opinions are impacting these thoughts or feelings? (“My son was potty trained at 18 months,” “How dare you let her talk to you that way?” “French children always eat what’s served,” etc.)
  • What support or encouragement do you need? (friends, time alone, mental health professional, parent coaching, etc.)

Use your answers to create your new “step one.”

Put the googling on hold while you spend some time on this important step.

Unless your garbage disposal breaks, then rest assured, there’s a YouTube video for that.

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Nicole Schwarz (couch 3)

Welcome! I'm Nicole Schwarz.

I'm a Parent Coach, Licensed Therapist and Author of It Starts with You. I help stressed, overwhelmed, confused parents find calm, confidence and connection with their kids. No one is expecting perfection here. But, if you’re willing to examine your parenting, find encouragement, or try something new, this is the place for you.

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