Dr. Aliza Pressman Talks Parenting, Perfection and When Stress Can Be Good

Dr. Aliza Pressman Talks Parenting, Perfection and When Stress Can Be Good

Discover how the developmental psychologist and best-selling author encourages parents to just let go at our Parent Like A Pro Summit.

Parenthood is an incredible journey, but it’s also really overwhelming. For new parents, especially, navigating the endless stream of conflicting advice, coupled with sleepless nights, and constant firsts - it often feels like every time we think we’ve got “it,” it totally changes.

That’s why Nanit is thrilled to bring you our Parent Like a Pro Summit, where Nanit’s experts and ambassadors come together for curated conversations about sleep, parenting, and more. Think of it like that expert best friend in your ear who’s got the answers to your most profound questions before you even know what to ask.

In case you missed it, we’re breaking down the need-to-know details from each chat. First up? Developmental psychologist and author Dr. Aliza Pressman, Nanit Ambassador Dane Robinson, and Nanit Lab's Dr. Natalie Barnett share an engaging chat around the concept of parenting confidently, applying Dr. Aliza's five principles of parenting, straight from her new book, The Five Principles of Parenting. These tentpoles include Relationships, Reflection, Regulation, Rules, and Repair, which serve as a framework to guide parents in their parenting decisions, as well as encourage them to let go of perfection, build resilience in themselves and their kids, and parent more confidently and mindfully.

On perfectionism

“Even though it's so intuitive to want to be perfect, fight the urge and give yourself grace. Not only is it impossible, the science shows it's better for your kids for you to be imperfect. You can be excellent, you can be conscientious, but perfection in the context of parenting is counterintuitive. It doesn't serve our kids.- Dr. Aliza

On the power of repair between parents and children

“In order for relationships to be strong and stable, you have to have moments of disconnection to come back together and repair.”- Dr. Aliza

On prioritizing sleep as a parent 

“Consistency and self-care are key. It makes you that much better as a caregiver. Stop shooting for perfection, but create predictability where you can.” - Dr. Natalie

On the differences between childhood stresses

“Positive stress is not harmful and a positive outcome will come from it. An example is getting rid of a pacifier or introducing a new sibling. 

Tolerable stress are things that are really hard but you can survive them because you have someone next to you who is here for you. This builds resilience over time and gives kids the capacity to know they can bounce back.

Toxic stress is a horrible thing you would never wish upon everyone - an example being extreme poverty. We don’t want any of these, but even if you have one person who cares for you, you have buffered the impact of toxic stress.” - Dr. Aliza

On the steps new parents can take to connect to their children 

  1. Take a breath for ourselves, so they can feel our ease. 
  2. Get at eye level and make eye contact. For babies, follow their gaze. It’s a window into what their attention is on. You don't need to separately grab their attention. 
  3. Speak “Parentese” to them - the high pitched sing-songy voice that builds connection.

On the power of self-awareness as a parent

“When I’m super stressed, my mantra is “What am I feeling? Why am I feeling it? I stop and pause and take a deep breath.” - Dane 

On the importance of self-parenting 

“Pay attention to how you speak to yourself. Think about a loving voice, and use that in your head. We can re-parent ourselves by being the parent we didn't have, or accessing the parent we did have. This soothes our nervous system. You can also speak to yourself in the third person - it helps you feel more empathy when you speak to yourself that way.” - Dr. Aliza

Nanit is dedicated to delivering high-quality, reliable content for our readers. Our Parent Confidently articles are crafted by experienced parenting contributors and are firmly rooted in data and research. To ensure the accuracy and relevance of the content, all articles undergo a rigorous review process by our team of parenting experts. Additionally, our wellness-related content receives further scrutiny from Nanit Lab, our think tank of scientists, engineers, physicians, academic experts, and thought leaders.

Our primary objective is to furnish readers with the most current, trustworthy, and actionable information concerning a host of parenting topics. We strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions by offering comprehensive and respected insights.

In pursuit of transparency and credibility, our articles incorporate credible third-party sources, peer-reviewed studies, and abstracts. These sources are directly linked within the text or provided at the bottom of the articles to grant readers easy access to the source material.


Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.