Three Red Flags That Prove You’re More Successful Than You Think (At Parenting)

Nov 4, 2021

Have you ever second-guessed yourself as a parent? Do you ever feel like you are not as successful as you want to be in your parenting? In this episode we look at three common “red flags” that might make you think you’re failing, but are actually an indicator of success!
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Podcast Transcript

Hi, I’m Dr. Brenna Hicks, The Kid Counselor. This is the Play Therapy Parenting Podcast where I give you insight awareness and enlightenment about your parenting and your relationship with your kids.

In this episode, we are going to talk through an article that I read on It was not specifically a parenting article, but you know the way my brain works, and I key in on things that apply to raising kids and parenting and the world of childhood.

So this particular article was called the Three Red Flags That Prove You’re More Successful Than You Think: The three life goal red flags that prove you’re more successful than you think backed by science.

I was intrigued, read the article, and I found so many parallels to parenting and how so much of this applies to our perception about raising our kids too. So in this episode we’re going to talk through the points that they make… those three life goal red flags that they mentioned.

The first goal that they mention as a red flag, is that “you only have one or two friends”. I will switch that a little bit to apply to parenting. We’ll talk through what that looks like and why that is probably an indicator you’re more successful than you think.

The second thing they mentioned as a red flag is “you think you’re wrong”. So we’ll talk through what that looks like as a parent.

Third, “you don’t feel successful”. In other words, you don’t have what you need to make you truly happy. So we’re going to unpack those three life goal red flags together, but with a parenting spin.

The path to calm, confident and in control parenting starts now.

All right. So the whole premise of this article is that you will always find someone more accomplished than you. They either are more successful, they’ve achieved more, they’re happier, they have a better house, better extracurriculars, whatever. So the concept of this article is that you can always locate someone that you feel has made it or is further along than you. And so they talk through these life goal red flags.

The first is they mention that “you only have one or two friends”. Now adjusting this for a parenting perspective. I argue that if you only have one or two people that you implicitly trust, and you implicitly count on when you are struggling as a parent.

So those two or three people in your life that you can call at three a.m. You know your “3 AM phone friend” that will answer no matter what. The one who you “vomit” all over with all of the frustration of your day, or your week, or what you’re struggling with, and they always have sound advice for you. They always have the right thing to say. They have the right encouragement. Your go-to trusted sources that are few, but that are chosen. That’s one of our “rules of thumb” in the playroom, is we select, not collect the things that we have in our rooms. And so if you have selected a few friends that you fully rely on and trust to help you parent well, and you value their advice, you trust what they have to say.

That is an indicator that you actually are more successful than you think. There are tens, hundreds of thousands of options out there for parenting advice. However, if you are compiling all kinds of different approaches, and all kinds of techniques, and this person says this, and this blog said this, and this podcast said this, and you’re trying to somehow fuse all of those things together into an approach to your parenting… you’re probably frustrated. Your kids are probably frustrated and it’s not streamlined. It doesn’t have a framework. It doesn’t have something that you fall back on as “this is what I want to do”.

My hope, as your host of Play Therapy Parenting Podcast, is that this may be among your few trusted sources. That this becomes your go-to, because we need those people in our lives that we trust. We need ones that we know are going to give us helpful, appropriate sound advice when we need it.

Maybe sometimes you just need some encouragement. Good old fashioned encouragement.

So the article is discussing friendship. I’m switching it to those trusted parenting advice people.

Okay, so the second thing they say is a red flag, that you’re actually more successful than you think, is you tend to “think you’re wrong”. And I personally see this all the time with the parents that I train and coach with. The parents that come to the center, the parents that call our center, there’s this pervasive belief that we’ve screwed up. We’re ruining our kids. We have no idea what we’re doing. We’ve almost given up. We’re so lost, we’re so clueless, throw us the life ring and please save us from our drowning state.

That’s one of the things that I reframe for parents a lot when I meet with them… this is not something that you need to shame yourself, or blame yourself, or feel guilt for.

This is something that, at this moment, we’re realizing where we are, and we’re going to move forward from here.

So this concept of “you think you’re wrong” point of view… it’s a really interesting point that is made in this article. It says if you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent. I love that phrase. My version is that “you don’t know what you don’t know”.

So the interesting concept is, if you are truly incompetent, you wouldn’t make the claim that you have no idea what you’re doing. Because the fundamental issue with that is the skills you need to figure it out are the very skills that you would need to recognize the answer.

By default, you can’t know you’re incompetent, if you truly are incompetent.

When parents say “I need help, I don’t know what to do”, “I’ve tried lots of things that I’m not sure where to go from here”. That acknowledgement and resignation of “gosh, I just don’t feel that I know what I’m doing”. If you truly didn’t know what you were doing, you wouldn’t even say that.

So let that be an encouragement, and on the flip side, the article goes on to say that people with high ability often underestimate their own skills.

So let’s unpack that a little bit, because I’m not saying people with great parenting underestimate their skills… I’m saying people with high ability (if you have a high ability to be an effective parent) you will often underestimate your skills that you currently possess. Even though your potential is much greater, even though you are capable and have the capacity to go far beyond your current state… just by having an ability, often leads you to underestimate your skills.

So if you find yourself today, tomorrow, this week, this month, maybe this whole year… if you find yourself saying, “I just have no clue what I’m doing and I always feel like I’m just failing miserably”. Let’s reframe that in our heads a little bit. Let’s approach this from a different perspective and say, I obviously realized that I’m struggling, which means I have a high ability, and I have high competence.

My hope is that all the things that you’re learning… all of these episodes, all of the videos, blogs, articles, and all of those things that you’re digesting, and that you’re pouring over… I hope that those things are slowly taking root, and slowly feeding that confidence.

I talk about this a lot, especially in the parent coaching that I do… the “competence/confidence loop”. I think I’ve mentioned it in earlier podcast episodes as well. There’s a confidence/competence spectrum. As you grow in confidence, so does your competence. And as you have higher competence, so grows your confidence. So it’s kind of this never ending, infinity loop if you will.

So just know that every time you even work to learn a new skill… maybe you haven’t even mastered it yet… but you are working to reflect your child’s feelings, and you do it.

Maybe you’re working to give your children choices. You don’t always remember, but sometimes you do. When you catch yourself ready to yell, and you take a moment and say, “what will I do in this moment to most preserve this relationship?” “Let me take a few deep breaths before I respond so I’m a thermostat in that moment instead of a thermometer.”

I could go on, and on with all these play therapy principles that we talked through together. But when you have those moments, your confidence/competence loop increases on both sides, and you are becoming more skilled. You’re becoming more capable, and therefore, you don’t feel like you’re failing anymore.

So I was very encouraged by that second red flag that they pointed out.

Moving on to the third red flag. “You don’t feel successful” or don’t have what you need to make you happy.

Now a quick disclaimer… this article, and this point, was specifically geared a little bit toward money. So it was how much money you earn, and how much money you want to earn, etc. But as a whole, they were saying you don’t feel successful, granted, with a financial spin. But I’m going to make this more about parenting.

We don’t feel successful as parents. We don’t feel that we have what we need to make us happy. If only my kid would stop arguing. If only we could have one dinner time without a fight over refusing to eat. If only we could go to the store and not have to leave because of a tantrum. If only… and then we fill in lots of those ends of sentences with our hopes and our dreams and what we were wishing for.

But the implication is that, I can’t be happy now because I don’t have what I need to be successful.

So instead of defining success by a metric… meaning X, Y, Z has to be met before I achieve A, B, C… The article draws the conclusion that instead, the goal is to find what makes us feel fulfilled. What makes us feel satisfied. And if we have opportunities to make positive choices in our lives. Those three things are actually a greater measure of success and happiness than anything else.

Let’s enlarge that to the world of parenting a little bit. So yes, on a daily basis, sometimes there are very frustrating, difficult, overwhelming things that we have to go through his parents, and or adults, who love little ones.

There’s those moments where we can feel very defeated, and feel like, gosh, this just was a total failure of a day. No success found.

However, what did we do that gave us a moment of fulfillment on that day? When we picked our kids up and they ran to the car, and they had a huge smile, and they threw open the car door and they said “hi”, was that fulfilling? That they were so excited to see you?

Was it fulfilling to watch your child score a goal, or hit a home run? Or when the track meet, or whatever, happened? You know, their extracurriculars and their hobbies.

Was it fulfilling that your child wrote a little, “I love you” note and left it on the counter? We often overlook those small moments that are extremely fulfilling for us. They’re fulfilling as humans. They’re fulfilling as moms and dads and parents.

So do we have opportunities to feel fulfilled? That makes us successful?

Do we have opportunities that make us feel satisfied? When we work really hard to plan something… our family is able to go enjoy a day at the park, or we go have a picnic together, or we go watch a sunset at the beach. Are those moments where I’m left feeling satisfied where we walk away saying, “gosh, that was an awesome moment”.

That is the definition of success, and we DO have what we need to be fulfilled and happy.

Finally, the article mentioned an “opportunity to make positive choices”.

This is the one that resonated with me the most, because I believe that we should take opportunities to make positive choices.

Notice there’s two knowns there… the first is we take the opportunity. That’s a choice. We have the opportunity to take those moments, and sometimes we don’t, but we at least have the opportunity to take that moment. And then we also have an opportunity to make a positive choice.

That’s what the Play Therapy Parenting Podcast is about. It’s taking knowledge and information and equipping calm, confident in control parents.

The idea is that if we live in the moment, and we let our emotions grow, just like our kids, and if we’re constantly grasping at some random skill that we think might work at any given moment, it sets us up, and our kids up, to be in a state of failure.

But if we are making choices, saying, “you know what, I’m choosing to be more patient”, “I’m choosing to be more understanding and reflect my child’s feelings”. “I’m choosing to set consistent limits that are clear and reasonable”. “I’m choosing to give my child choices so they feel empowered”. “I’m choosing to encourage them so they build self esteem”. “I’m choosing to remain calm even when I really just want to scream cause I’m so frustrated”. Those are those moments in time where we are making positive choices and we’ve also taken the opportunity to do so.

So right there, that shows you how successful we are, when we have those moments.

As a general wrap up here, the article was talking about “red flags” that prove we’re actually more successful than we think.

I suspect that there have been times when we have said, “I only have, like, two people that I would actually say are good parents that I can trust”. That means you’re actually more successful, even though you say that as a criticism or a negative outcome

“I have no clue what I’m doing”. “I’m wrong every time I do anything when it comes to my kids”. I’m sure we’ve said it. We felt it. But it proves that we actually are more competent than we think.

And then “I don’t feel like I’m successful with parenting”. “I don’t feel like I have what I need to be happy”. But we actually do, because we take opportunities to make positive choices and we feel fulfilled and satisfied.

So, as you can see, this actually kind of turned a lot of those normal complaints and frustrations on its head. I love articles that do that, because I think it just really aligns with the approach to parenting that we try to take. One moment at a time, one day at a time, one skill at a time. We are constantly working to get better and it is a long journey. Parenting isn’t a sprint. It’s a very, very long race.

As related aside, one of my very good friends from college just ran a 50 mile trail run in new Hampshire and she killed it. She did so well. I was so proud of her. I was thinking about her and it was like, nine, almost 10 hours I think, before she completed the race. I remember thinking, “gosh, how many times did she want to give up?”” How many times did she say, “Oh my word, I’m only 25 miles in and I still have half to go”.

That just got me thinking about how sometimes we just need to keep going even when we’re exhausted. Even when it doesn’t seem like there’s an end in sight. Even when we don’t feel like we have enough. Even when we don’t feel like we know what we’re doing. You just put one step in one foot in front of the other. It’s a slow, steady journey, and we get there over time.

That’s my hope for us as a Play Therapy Parenting family… that we are satisfied with that. Even when we normally might see things as a frustration or complaint, we can say, “But you know what, it’s better than I think because I’m constantly getting better and I’m constantly becoming the best parent that I can be”.

That’s my hope personally. That’s my hope for all of us as we walk this parenting journey together.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out That is the new home of the podcast. All of my episodes are there. The most recent episode is at the top. is also where you can sign up for that, if you haven’t yet.

And by the way, quick shout out to all of the new people that have been downloading the podcast… finding out about us and listening. Thank you and welcome.

Also the newsletter. I’ve had so many people sign up recently for the newsletter. So thank you for that. I just wrote a recent one and we’re sending it out this week. So be on the lookout for that. You’ll get a newsletter soon with some updates and some good stuff that’s been happening

As always, I would love to hear from you. Shoot me an email [email protected]. I’d love to hear your comments, thoughts, questions, and just engage with you in that way.

So as always, thank you for being a part of the Play Therapy Parenting Podcast family. In a future episode, we’re going to talk through an article titled “The 10 things that you should never say to your kids”. Interestingly enough, I wrote an article years ago titled “10 things you should never say to your kids”. So I’m going to compare and contrast my list with their list and we’ll talk through that from a play therapy perspective.

So we will talk again soon. Thanks so much. Bye.

Cochran, N., Nordling, W., & Cochran, J. (2010). Child-Centered Play Therapy (1st ed.). Wiley.
VanFleet, R., Sywulak, A. E., & Sniscak, C. C. (2010). Child-centered play therapy. Guilford Press.
Landreth, G. L. (2002). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (2nd ed.). Brunner-Routledge.
Bratton, S. C., Landreth, G. L., Kellam, T., & Blackard, S. R. (2006). Child parent relationship therapy (CPRT) treatment manual: A 10-session filial therapy model for training parents. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
Benedict, Helen. Themes in Play Therapy. Used with permission to Heartland Play Therapy Institute.

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