It's 8 a.m. Parent has to get three little kids out the door and into the morning carpool. Let's say that the youngest is 2 years old, the next is 4 and the eldest is 6. Parent gets the smallest one dressed; it's winter, so that means boots, snowsuit, hat, mittens, scarf—the whole works. The 4 year old struggles with his coat and refuses to accept help because "I can do it myself." The oldest can't find her other glove. The clock is ticking. "We've got to get moving," Parent states in a tense voice.

The eldest finds her glove but suddenly remembers that she wants to bring something for her friend. "I have to go find it. I think it's under my bed," she shouts, running away from the front door toward the back of the house. "Not now," Parent calls after her. "I've got to get to work and we're going to be late... come back here right now!" The eldest ignores the request. Instead, she runs from room to room. "I know I left it under the bed! Somebody took it! I promised I'd bring it. I've got to get it."

Parent is fuming. Nostrils are flaring. "I SAID NOT NOW. WE HAVE TO GO." Parent grabs the child and drags her screaming toward the front door. Another morning has begun.

It certainly wasn't the parent's intention to start the day fighting with the kids. In fact, every parent wants to have a pleasant morning (and evening!) with the kids. Often, the time starts out well. There might be affection, laughter, peace. Then pressure sets in as a deadline approaches. Whether it's time for school or time for Shabbat, the approaching deadline screams in the parent's ear: "Hurry, hurry, hurry." The parent becomes agitated and stress chemicals start flooding his or her brain. Good parenting techniques, stored in the frontal cortex, become inaccessible as the emergency centers of the brain take over. Primitive responses – yelling, grabbing, threatening – seem to arrive "out of nowhere." In a frantic attempt to gain control of the situation, the parent loses control of him or herself.

Nachmanides offers a preventative strategy—one that is today echoed by modern psychological research. In his Iggeret HaRamban, he advises us to picture repetitive problematic situations—the things that go wrong again and again.

Is it always challenging getting the kids out of the door in the morning? Picture the scene. What goes wrong? What happens when the kids are causing a delay? Picture your normal response. Now picture what you want to happen when the kids cause a delay. How do you want to look, sound and act? Picture yourself doing all of it. Every day, take a few minutes to focus your attention on this new picture. Soon, it will be wired into your brain. Then, when the challenging situation arises, your new response set will automatically appear.

Programming ourselves for success is easy. It only takes a few moments of thinking and imagining. Most of us tend to snap under pressure, so that's a good place to begin our imaginative work. Just close your eyes, breath slowly, and picture yourself acting the way you wish you could. Your picture will soon be reality.