Jennifer Garner is working hard to make sure that her three children with Ben Affleck—10-year-old Violet, 7-year-old Seraphina, and 4-year-old Samuel—grow up to to be caring, giving, and empathetic.
"I give it all I can," the actress explained to Today Parents in an interview. And not only did she share insight into her own parenting routine but she also dished out advice on parenting kids in their tween years.
"I don’t think empathy is something you can drill in someone’s head," the 44-year-old wisely noted. "You have to have faith that while your kids can seem to be selfish and concerned only about the word 'mine' sometimes, overall, they are watching you really carefully, and if you care about other people, they will too."
It's certainly true that children are like sponges, soaking in everything around them and learning by example. "I try to be the best version of myself and to have faith that they’re watching me as carefully when I do something right as they do when I roll through a stop sign," she said.
Garner, just like many moms out there, is definitely wary of how technology, especially social media, will affect her kids. But following a "back-to-school night," she found herself wondering if the children should have their own computers or devices to complete their homework.
"Our daughter doesn’t have any of those things, and she’s, like, the only kid in the class who doesn't, apparently," the Alias actress revealed of her oldest, Violet. "So I found an old laptop this weekend for her, and I am kind of panicked about it. She’s not on social media yet—her school has a no social media policy until sixth grade—but I know it's coming soon."
Garner makes sure she's there for her kids for one specific daily ritual: one-on-one attention before bed. "I try to make bedtime sacred," she said. "To have some alone time with each kid every night, when it is possible."
The policy ties into her best parenting tactic: She makes certain that her children know she's focused on them. "They need you to focus, and they need your attention," she said. "You never know when they are going to drop some nugget of insight into their brains that you have been waiting for."
This article originally appeared on InStyle U.S.