Raising good humans with Dr. Aliza Pressman

In this podcast (episode #555) and blog, I talk to developmental psychologist, professor, and podcaster Dr. Aliza Pressman about raising good humans, her amazing new book on parenting, transforming the lives of others, and so much more! 

Dr. Aliza has nearly two decades of experience working with families and the health care providers who care for them. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Division of Behavioral Health Department of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital where she is co-founding director of The Mount Sinai Parenting Center. Dr. Aliza is also the host of the hit podcast, Raising Good Humans. She holds a BA from Dartmouth College, an MA in Risk, Resilience and Prevention from the Department of Human Development at Teacher’s College and a PhD in developmental psychology from Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She also holds a teaching certificate in mindfulness and meditation from The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Aliza is the mother of two teenagers.

In her amazing new book, The 5 Principles of Parenting, Dr. Aliza talks about letting go of trying to be the “perfect” parent and focusing on raising good humans (including ourselves as parents or guardians!). She focuses on five strategies that everyone can use to get things right “often enough”: Relationship, Reflection, Regulation, Rules, and Repair.  

In this book, Dr. Aliza does not discuss anything new or revolutionary. Rather, she focuses on elements of parenting that have been tried and true based on decades of research. She takes the science of developmental child psychology and translates it into useful, practical and helpful tips for parents and guardians to help them “become a transformative, positive influence in a child’s life while creating their own definition of success.” She wanted to create a doable and simple guide for caregivers to help create resilience and give them the support they need as they navigate “raising good humans.” Dr. Aliza focuses on what is “controllable, teachable and will help children,” not just on what parents are doing wrong. 

Her 5 core principles encompass the key findings in developmental psychology that Dr. Aliza calls the “pathway to resilience”: 

  1. Relationship: Research shows that a close, connected relationship with at least one caregiver that loves and supports a child, sees them for who they are and is there for them can help children manage stress and build their cognitive and emotional resilience. Indeed, it often makes the difference between fragility and resilience in life! And, thankfully, this is something we can all work on, regardless of how old our child is—it is something that we can do that has proven benefits in helping children manage the stressors of life, which is an invaluable skill we can give them as caregivers.
  2. Reflection: This has two aspects: reflect on what you need to work on personally to be there for your child, and also help your child reflect on why they feel or act the way they do in the moment to help them work through what is affecting them so they can better manage their emotional and mental wellbeing. This is another essential life skill we can teach our children! The easiest way to do this is to take a breath and remind yourself to not just be reactive and to give yourself the space and freedom to respond in a healthy way to your child in the moment. You can then teach your child this same skill when they are upset. 
  3. Regulation: This is a great way to follow up on the reflection parenting skill discussed above, so we can get ourselves in the right space to make healthy decisions, manage our thoughts, emotions and actions as caregivers, and teach our children to do the same. They essentially need to share our nervous system as we model self-regulation for them until they can learn to do it themselves. This process is like “turning off your internal alarm system with a passcode”: it helps us manage our stress response before it escalates, just like a house alarm gives us time to enter the passcode before the police and firemen are called out for an emergency.
  4. Rules: These are boundaries and limits. These teach children, in an intentional, loving, clear and compassionate way, that there are consequences to their actions and boundaries in place—they cannot just do what they want when they want, as this does not prepare them for real life and real relationships. They teach children the difference between the self and others and how to manage other people’s expectations. These are lessons, not punishments. 
  5. Repair: This gives ourselves grace to learn from our mistakes and recognize that we don’t have to be perfect—we just have to get things right more often than not, and we can learn, change and grow as caregivers. We can repair our failures and strengthen our relationships with our children, teaching them a valuable life skill in the process: how to learn from our mistakes and build our resilience. 

At the end of the day, we need to remember that we cannot control our children, but we can control ourselves. And, if we focus on the elements of parenting that we can actually control, this truly changes the game, enabling us to focus on raising good humans rather than trying to be the “perfect” caregivers.  

For more on raising good humans, listen to my podcast with Dr. Aliza (episode #555) and check out her incredible work. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).    

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Podcast Highlights

2:20 Dr. Aliza’s amazing work 

4:30 The importance of training healthcare providers in the field of developmental psychology 

8:57 Dr. Aliza’s new book The 5 Principles of Parenting  

11:20, 14:35 The pathway to parenting resilience & raising good humans 

15:50 The power of developing a strong relationship with your child

20:00 Reflection & parenting

25:00 The importance of teaching our children self-regulation  

31:28 Rules in parenting  

38:00, 44:39 What “repairing” means for parents  

Switch On Your Brain LLC. is providing this podcast as a public service. Reference to any specific viewpoint or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by our organization. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. If you have any questions about this disclaimer, please contact info@drleaf.com.     

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.  

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