The Seven Habits of Self-Reg Parents

The Seven Habits of Self-Reg Parents

As most of us know, parenting is an experience in which the learning never stops. Sometimes, the best way to gauge your progress as a parent is to stop and look back at how things used to be — six months or a year ago — and notice how much they’ve changed. I’ve done this occasionally, and I’m often surprised at how much my parenting habits and style have changed or improved. Usually, I feel a little better about myself, and my kids, as a result.

Learning to parent with a Self-Reg mindset is a special kind of learning journey. With that in mind, and with a nod to Stephen Covey, who established the “7 Habits” brand in 1989 with his bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, here is my take on the seven “habits” of Self-Reg parents. If you’re trying to be a Self-Reg parent, take a look at these seven signs and then reflect on the extent to which you were or weren’t doing these things a year or so ago. If the idea of Self-Reg parenting is new to you, these signs might give you something to aim for.

The 7 Signs You’re Becoming a Self-Parent

1. You read kids’ behaviour differently

When you see a “misbehaving” child your default thoughts are less likely to be: How do I make this kid stop/obey? Or, What’s the right discipline strategy to pull out of my bag of tricks right now? And you are more likely to think things like: This child needs my attention and help. What’s stressing this child right now?

2. It’s easier to stay calm when things get hot

You’re better at keeping your cool in tense situations and you find it easier to “forgive” your child (or partner) for behaviours that bug you because you can see that the behaviour is often caused by stress. In other words, you realize that they weren’t actually trying to drive you crazy.

3. You feel more compassion & less anger

You don’t fight with your kids or get mad at them as often, and when you do get mad, you don’t stay as mad for as long. You’re finding it easier to like and appreciate kids you found it hard to like before.

4. Your parenting is less reactive

You are more able to see when you should take a “time out,” or at least, “hit the pause button” rather than trying to fix a problem or mete out the ideal consequence in the heat of the moment, when everyone’s stress alarms are going full-tilt.

5. You re-think disciplinary tactics

You finally understand why even the best discipline strategies don’t work at times with some kids, and you are better at identifying situations where trying to impose discipline or exert control will just make things worse.

6. You understand your kids more deeply

You feel like you understand your kids (and some of their behaviours) better. And you are starting to understand certain behaviours that perplexed and frustrated you in the past.

7. You’re doing Self-Reg with yourself

You become better at recognizing and dealing with your own stress and how it affects your parenting, and what to do about it. You’re really starting to see that a less stressed parent is a more effective parent. And you find it easier to forgive yourself for your parenting imperfections.

Can You See the Pattern?

What do these seven habits have in common? I’d say that in different ways they all should contribute to lower stress parenting. And that’s nice work if you can get it, right?

Your Turn

Now I don’t mean to suggest that these are the only important habits of moms and dads who are really starting to get Self-Reg Parenting. They just happen to be the first seven I thought of! I’ll bet you can think of others. Please share your ideas with us – if we get enough great ideas, I’ll share them in a future blog. Maybe we’ll find a way to do something cool with them, like create a nice Self-Reg Parenting graphic that parents can download from our website.

By | 2018-08-21T14:41:41+00:00 August 21st, 2018|


  1. Aviva August 21, 2018 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    John, I love this post! I just shared it with our parents through our class blog. I think it could provide some great food for thought and discussion starters. While I’m not a parent, I look at each of these ideas and see the connections to the classroom. I wonder if the same post could be used for “The Seven Habits of Self-Reg Educators.” There definitely seems to be an overlap here.


    • John Hoffman August 28, 2018 at 9:19 am - Reply

      Thanks Aviva. You might be right about Self-Reg Educators. It would be interesting to see if other teachers agree.

  2. Lisa Cranston August 23, 2018 at 8:49 am - Reply

    John, If I was to add another ‘habit’ I would suggest taking this sentence from Habit 7 and giving it its own bullet point: And you find it easier to forgive yourself for your parenting imperfections.

    I am so glad my kids are older (late 20s) and I didn’t have to parent in the age of social media. Every day there is a barrage of posts with titles like NEVER DO THESE 10 THINGS WITH YOUR CHILD; or WHAT ALL PARENTS NEED TO DO RIGHT NOW. I spent enough time second guessing myself as a parent when my kids were young, I can’t imagine what it must be like for parents in the age of Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook where everyone can view and comment on your parenting choices.

    I think self-reg allows parents to not only forgive parenting imperfections but also to feel more confident in the parenting choices they are making because they have a knowledge of self-reg to use as a foundation when making choices.

    • John Hoffman August 28, 2018 at 9:21 am - Reply

      Thanks for your comment Lisa. I’ve always thought that forgiveness (both of your kids and yourself) was a huge part of being able to maintain a hopeful attitude as a parent.

  3. Tisia August 23, 2018 at 11:53 am - Reply

    These are all good points! I learned to ask myself “what have I been doing differently this week (or today) that might be having an impact on my child, such as causing stress or anxiety to them?”. I usually found that I had been less available to them and wasn’t as present, emotionally, for them. Addressing that often helped relieve the child’s stress and accompanying behaviours.

    • John Hoffman August 28, 2018 at 9:22 am - Reply

      Great observation Tisia!

  4. Gill Kilb August 30, 2018 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    I recently heard an American psychologist being interviewed on tv. She said increasing numbers of young students were being brought to psychiatrists with suspected ADHD. She said they were actually suffering from toxic shock as a result of the inappropriate expectations made of them by an increasingly goals focused education system.
    From what I have seen of the Australian education system, enormous stresses are being placed on students,teachers and parents because the system is controlled by administrators who know little about child development.
    I am glad to hear that your message is being presented in Australia.

  5. Favourite Links | Rousseau's ELP 1 September 2, 2018 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    […] The Seven Habits of Self-Reg Parents – This recent post on The MEHRIT Centre blog provides some great connections between Self-Reg and parenting. We’re thinking even more about the application of these same ideas to the classroom. They all seem to connect in some way. […]

  6. […] The Seven Habits of Self-Reg Parents – This post on The MEHRIT Centre blog provides some great connections between Self-Reg and parenting. We’re thinking even more about the application of these same ideas to the classroom. They all seem to connect in some way. […]

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