All eyes are on our kids’ mental health these days, as pandemic stressors and screens and cyberbullying and just being a kid in 2023 compound into the perfect storm of issues for them. But Dr. Becky Kennedy, author of New York Times #1 bestseller “Good Inside,” and widely followed parenting expert with a podcast by the same name, has a 5-second tip parents can do right now to instantly help their kids feel seen, and validated.

“I know that sounds too good to be true,” she prefaces. But it isn’t. “This is going to have major payoff across the board.”

“I want you to go up to your kids and say this today — ‘It can be really hard to be a kid, right?’” she says, rephrasing it once more like this: “‘You know what I’m thinking about? It can be really hard to be a kid. Ugh, yeah.’” She explains that you are naming a reality that is very real for them, that adults might not bring up that often.

“You are seeing the world from their perspective. You are connecting to a reality that very few adults actively name for them. As you connect, and as you validate, you’re helping your kid feel seen,” she says. “And when kids feel seen, their behavior improves across the board.”

Related: Dr. Becky Kennedy on sturdy leadership, respecting both parents and children, and navigating some of our toughest parenting challenges

In her caption, she elaborates further that the payoff for this, the “good behavior” she mentions, includes kids being more likely to listen, use their manners, and cooperate in challenging situations, if they feel connected to their parents. 

“Connection is everything when it comes to parenting for the long haul,” she writes. “All the good stuff we want for our kids when they get older-things like secure attachment, resilience, and self-confidence-comes from years of kids having felt seen and understood by their parents.”

Leave it to Dr. Becky to casually drop this epic parenting tip while walking through a busy city transportation station. Nearly 50,000 parents of her 1.7M Instagram followers liked her post, with some fans thanking her for the reminder. Multiple people noted that it can also work on your partners. “All of our closest relationships just yearn to be seen,” one writes. 

Another mom posts, “I’m really struggling lately with my 9-year-old. Power struggles all the time. I’m going to go give this a try. Thanks for the tip.” 

Related: 8 calming techniques you and your kids can do together

Others had more questions, and some resistance about her tip, with one worrying that their kid would start focusing too much on how hard it is to be a kid, and another posting that it isn’t necessarily true that it’s always hard to be a kid. But most simply thanked her for the “simple reminder.”

Dr. Becky’s tips point to the power parents have to impact their kid’s mental health with support, meaningful conversation, fun, routines, self-care, and more. Check out her other work on navigating the toughest parenting challenges here.