I’d love to say that when one of my daughters has a problem, my usual response is to cheerfully sing, “When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four!” just like my characters from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

But well, I don’t.

It doesn’t help that my oldest is now off to college -the last time I tried that, she said, “Don’t Daniel Tiger me, Mom!”

So, what do I do? And what have I learned from writing hundreds of preschool episodes for television, as the creator of Super Why! and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?

Across all of my work, kindness is at the heart of all that I do. I recently wrote a book about the power of radical kindness, because I believe so strongly in the life-changing power of leading with kindness. Central to this idea of radical kindness is the concept of heart-seeing, or looking beneath the surface to understand what is motivating someone else so that we can react with love and compassion.

As a parent, radical kindness can give you relief.It empowers you to look at your child with empathetic eyes, realizing how hard it is to be little and not in control of almost anything.

With young children, one of the most essential ways to incorporate radical kindness into our interactions is to embrace the power of the pause. Just like my mentor Fred Rogers modeled, when we pause while talking to our children, it helps them absorb information and reinforces the idea that our children have value. Our children know that their feelings are important and that their voices deserve to be heard.

This is especially powerful when it comes to our children’s negative thoughts and feelings. As I wrote in my book, “the pause is one of the smartest, most effective tools you can use in any challenging situation.” Pausing prevents knee-jerk reactions and gives you time to ask yourself, “What does my child need?” and “How can I help?” It also gives you an opportunity to reflect, so that you can summon kindness and compassion rather than criticism. As parents, we can sometimes feel like we need to have all the answers right now. But by taking a quick pause, we give ourselves space to really see and understand our child.

When we use the power of the pause effectively and consistently throughout preschool years, we set the foundation for a respectful, empathetic, and caring relationship dynamic – and just wait until the teenage years, it’s a godsend!