The Easy Parenting Hack Even Overwhelmed Moms Use To Really Empower Kids

Dr. Sue Johnson on what makes kids feel safe, loved and secure enough to conquer the world.

Mother getting down on Childs level to talk shurkin_son | Shutterstock

I feel lucky that growing up, I felt very seen and understood. I didn't realize this was rare until recently and have often wondered how I felt so safe and comfortable. 

After watching British clinical psychologist, couples therapist, and author Dr. Sue Johnson on the podcast "Open Relationships: Transforming Together", I believe I now know why.

You see, parenthood is a demanding journey filled with countless decisions, challenges, and moments of self-doubt. For many parents, finding a simple-yet-powerful strategy to raise confident and empowered children can be an absolute lifesaver. And, from what I've learned recently, the answer to raising confident, secure kids lies more in our emotions than any "parenting technique" or style. 


What Dr. Sue Johnson shares in this video is all about that: emotional connection. And it doesn't take much time. It's not a class you have to take or a set of rules you need to follow.

Which is great, because even the busiest, most overwhelmed parents can keep this valuable parenting tool up their sleeves. It's simply about being there when your kids need you, hearing their emotions and then lowering their voice and speaking in a gentle, softer tone when responding. 

For an example, watch the video below. The experience of hearing the difference in the two examples Dr. Johnson gives is so emotional, you instantly get the point.


Watching this made me feel so grateful that my father did this with me whenever I was feeling stressed or in a panic with my anxiety. It often made me feel safe and seen and that we were working together to find the issue and fix it. 

I never really noticed this until after watching Dr. Johnson on the podcast. It just clicked.

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The impact of gentle communication.

The power of gentle communication lies in creating a nurturing and empowering environment for children. When parents speak softly, they provide a safe space for their kids to express themselves, fostering emotional intelligence, empathy, and self-assurance.

Dr. Johnson stated, "They came close and dropped their voice, talked softly, and what does that do? The relationship message there is 'I'm here. You're safe with me. I'm here for you. I see you," she continues, "The number of people who come to me traumatized in their family of origin and they always say the same thing. They say things like 'nobody saw me. I was invisible'."

When parents practice gentle communication it shows their children that the parents are not dismissing them or simply giving them an order but coming to their level to see what can be done together.

It's like the parents give control to their children to find the problem. They allow their children to have a hand in soothing themselves in a safe environment. It empowers them.


This is just how it felt as my father did this for me. I ended up finding ways to help myself when he wasn't around because he showed me how from a very young age.

Speaking softly can genuinely empower children and help them feel confident

Modeling calmness and hearing their emotions builds emotional resilience

Soft-spoken parents encourage their children to openly share their thoughts, feelings, and concerns without fear of judgment or reprimand. If we were to respond in a panicked or "emergency voice" tone, it would only make our kids feel like there is no safe place to land.

This kind of communication builds emotional resilience, as children learn to process and manage their emotions in a healthy way.

I was a constantly anxious child who always stressed out and felt overwhelmed easily. Even though he was very busy working from 6 AM to 8 PM Mon-Fri, my father still found time to sit with me and talk out what was going on in his smooth soft tone that honestly made me feel seen and never dismissed.


No matter how tired he was he helped me figure out my triggers and deal with my big emotions.

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Hearing them out and responding compassionately enhances self-esteem

Gentle communication sends a powerful message to children that their voices matter. They feel valued, heard, and respected, which significantly boosts their self-esteem.

This newly found self-assurance can positively impact their self-worth and interactions with others.

Showing up for your chid strengthens the parent-child bond

A gentle, soft-spoken approach fosters a stronger and more trusting bond between parents and their children. Kids are more likely to seek guidance, support, and comfort from parents who communicate with kindness and empathy.


I know from my experience I always go to my dad for advice and guidance. We have a special bond that makes me feel like I can share literally everything with him. I go to him with questions, concerns I have, fears we talk about. 

And what's even better is that he comes to me for the same, I love how he also feels safe with me. He made me into that person with his gentle communication and I adore our relationship with everything I've got.

Showing empath encourages empathy in children

When children experience gentle communication from their parents, they learn empathy by example.

They are more likely to understand and connect with the emotions of others, making them kinder and more compassionate individuals.


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Practical tips for gentle communication

Practice active listening

Pay full attention when your child speaks, maintain eye contact, and show genuine interest in what they are saying. This demonstrates that their thoughts and feelings are essential to you. It shows that you care about them and what they are going through and what they have to say.

Avoid raising your voice

Commit to not yelling or raising your voice when addressing your child, even when correcting or disciplining. Instead, use a calm and composed tone.

This demonstrates that you are not attacking them for doing something wrong but teaching them what they did wrong, and that you will be a safe place for them to land when times feel tough and their emotions get "big".


Offer comfort and validation

When your child is upset or in distress, offer comfort and validation. A gentle touch, a reassuring hug, or a soft-spoken word of support can make a world of difference.

Don't just dismiss the tears and tell them to go lie down. My father used to sit down with me, let me cry, and talk with me about what happened. He even helped me wash my face afterward which made me feel cared for.

Encourage open dialogue

Create an environment where your child feels comfortable discussing their thoughts and concerns with you.


Be non-judgmental and open to their perspectives. 

Model gentle communication

Children learn by example. Demonstrate the same soft-spoken and empathetic approach in your interactions with others and everyday life.

Parenting is a challenging but rewarding journey. Empowering your children is one of the most important things you can do as a parent, and speaking softly is a surprisingly effective parenting hack to achieve this.

By communicating gently and empathetically, you provide your children with a safe and nurturing space to express themselves and develop emotional intelligence. Even the busiest parents can use this simple parenting hack to genuinely empower their children, setting them on a path to becoming confident, empathetic, and emotionally resilient individuals.


Just like my dad did for me.

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Deauna Roane is a writer and the Editorial Project Manager for YourTango. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic, and MSN. The Open Relationships Podcast can be heard on Spotify, iHeart and more.