Kristen Bell Says Her Latest Parenting Hack to Teach Her Kids Good Habits is 'Annoying, But it Works'

The famous mom opens up about the values she's teaching her two kids and the one parenting hack that's making all the difference.

An image of Kristen Bell.
Photo: Getty Images.

Kristen Bell, the busy actor and founder of plant-infused skincare brand Happy Dance, gets candid on mom life. She shares why her latest self-care strategy is clutch, how she talks to her kids about their emotions, and why conspicuous reading is a must at her house.

On normalizing daily self-care

"It does not need to be a special event. It should be a normal part of my routine so that my day doesn't get away from me and I don't feel like I'm stepping onto a roller coaster every morning and then at night I step off and go to sleep. So, I am normalizing that mommy takes 10 minutes to be by herself every day," the mom of two says.

Typically, Bell heads to her bedroom. "Sometimes I'm catching up on email, sometimes I fill the bath with a little water, throw in a Happy Dance Bath Bomb, and soak my feet. A spa day is not a reality for me, but I can do a five-minute foot soak and it's still a game-changer," she says. Preach, Bell!

On being candid about beauty

"My girls see me getting my makeup done all the time for work. And so they ask, 'Why are you wearing false eyelashes? Why do you have so much makeup on when you said you don't care about makeup?'" she says. Bell doesn't shy away from the questions. "I explain that Zoom and lights on a set can make you look like a zombie and you don't want your appearance to distract from whatever you're talking about," she says.

She's also fielded their questions about her skincare brand, Happy Dance. "I've told them that the company is about making people feel good," says Bell, who adds that the multitasking products are exactly what she was looking for as a busy mom. Each one combines CBD, a compound that soothes and calms (but does not get you high), and nourishing skincare ingredients, like coconut oil. "We also give 1 percent of the profits to Susan Burton's foundation, A New Way of Life Reentry Project. That's an important thing for my kids to know as well. We want to make sure that we're caring about the world around us."

Bell's daughters, Lincoln, 8, and Delta, 6, are free to experiment with beauty on their own. "They get into my makeup all the time and have makeup palettes in their room. Some days they come downstairs with bright red lipstick and eye shadow all over their face and I say, 'Cool, that's what you wanted to do to your body today,'" Bell says.

On raising kind kids

"There was research that suggested that telling your kids that they were smart could backfire because they'd be so scared to lose that title that they wouldn't take risks in school for fear of failing. So, OK, I get that. But kindness is different. I don't ever want them to lose the title of kind. I tell them that we're kind girls in this house over and over again," Bell says.

Other values and emotions are important too, of course. "To explain this to my kids I use the idea of a seesaw," says Bell, who credits the metaphor to Mike Schur's forthcoming book, How to Be Good. "I'll say, if you have so much kindness that you give all your toys away, then the seesaw becomes unbalanced and you don't have any toys. But if you had zero kindness and you never share, the seesaw is still unbalanced and you don't have any friends. I think they really get it."

On teaching accountability

"My husband [Dax Shepard] is sober so he wakes up every morning and thinks, 'What am I accountable for? What am I responsible for?' We talk a ton about that with the girls and lately it has been paying off," Bell says.

She goes on to share that her daughter had come to her upset about something a friend had said. "I sat there listening silently because I know that we've taught her the tools to solve this for herself. Suddenly she said, 'Oh, you know what? I just realized something. I bet my friend was just making a joke and I took it too seriously. Oh man, I have to take responsibility for that. I'm going to go talk to her.' My husband and I were like, 'OK, I guess she can go off to college now!'"

On her favorite quote

"On the bulletin boards hanging above the beds I've written my favorite quote: 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,' which is from Eleanor Roosevelt," Bell shares. "I think that's a really important message for little kids. They can easily feel inferior from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed, but this explains that they have control over how they feel. When my girls tell me that someone made them feel stupid my response is, don't consent to that."

On her best new parenting hack

"I've been modeling the behavior I want to see, which means I have to do it too—and that can be annoying!" the star half jokes. "If I tell my kids that they need to read, and they never see me reading a book, then all my advice is bogus. Even if I'm faking it, I have to sit down and grab a book. Maybe I'm thinking about my to-do list or maybe I'm actually enjoying the book. It's irrelevant. It's a parenting hack and it works."

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