The 50 First Dates star, 48, who shares daughters Olive, 11, and Frankie, nine, with ex-husband Will Kopelman, opened up about the piece of advice that changed the way she parents during Tuesday’s episode of The Drew Barrymore Show, where she was joined by parenting expert and psychologist Dr Aliza Pressman.
According to Barrymore, the piece of advice came from Dr Pressman years ago, when her daughter Olive was “going through a phase”.
“You specifically changed my life,” Barrymore told the psychologist. “I had my daughter Olive, who Aliza knows, she was going through a phase, this was years ago, where when she would get upset, I would try to go to her and I would try to make it better.”
However, according to the actress, that was the “last thing [her daughter] needed or wanted”.
“I didn’t understand it, she would either run away or come back at me. But either way was like the two extremes of no goodness,” she continued.
Barrymore said that Dr Pressman instead taught her how to “regulate” herself in these moments.
“You said walk in the room and just say: ‘I understand we’re having a moment, I’m here on the other side of this door for you, waiting. When you are ready, I am here,’” Barrymore recalled. “And I would walk out and take a deep breath. I got the best results I’ve ever gotten in my parenting from that and it was never a way in I had thought of.”
In response to Barrymore’s explanation, Dr Pressman noted that parents often get “so scared of [their child’s] big feelings” and want to “fix them”.
“And we’re chasing them,” she continued, prompting Barrymore to agree that that’s exactly what she’d been doing before she received the advice.
During the conversation, Dr Pressman also noted that it’s normal for parents to feel this way, but also the importance of being able to regulate the feeling as well.
“Being able to regulate ourselves as the adults and say: ‘Okay, I’m not being chased by a bear. My daughter’s not being chased by a bear.’ Meaning, it’s not an emergency. It’s a feeling,” she said, adding that it’s helpful to instead teach children “how to have the feelings and that they are survivable and that we are not shaken”.
This is not the first time that Barrymore has spoken candidly about parenting, as she previously revealed that she was “terrified” when she became a parent for the first time.
“I didn’t expect to feel like I was in such a fight or flight mode for a very long period of time. I thought it would be a little more romantic and cosy, and instead I was just terrified,” she recalled during an episode of “Dear Drew” on Entertainment Tonight. “I was so under slept, I couldn’t eat, I was nervous all the time, and no one really talked about how intimidating and overwhelming it can be ... so I wasn’t really prepared for that.”
At the time, Barrymore also admitted that she felt “so alone” before assuring other mothers who feel that way that they are not alone.
“I felt alone on that, so if there’s other moms out there that felt like that in the beginning, you are not alone, I felt like that too,” she said. “For any mom who felt casual and capable, you are a superhero! I wish I could have been like you.”