It’s not difficult to look at and listen to Jessica Alba and assume she has everything parenting-related down pat. But in reality, the star is just like most moms in the sense that she is always trying to improve.
“I think maybe being open and curious and trying to better myself,” the actress and businesswoman, 35, tells PEOPLE of her best quality as a parent.
“I don’t try to pretend like I have all the answers and I certainly don’t think I’m perfect,” adds Alba, who shares daughters Haven Garner, 5, and Honor Marie, 8½, with husband Cash Warren. “So when my kids say something, instead of me being so reactive, I think about how I can be better.”
She continues, “Sometimes my mind is in too many different places and I’m not always in the moment.”
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“I’m probably on the stricter side of lenient. But I think boundaries are good for kids — and structure,” she explains. “I find that my kids thrive when they know where the boundaries are and the comfort zone and where they can be creative and play.”
“But it’s having enough sleep, having proper nutrition that really helps that. And having enough activity.”
Alba says her younger daughter is her little shadow, but her older one is a bit more independent.
“Haven likes to mirror me, so even when we take showers, she’ll do everything right after me,” she explains. “Or when we’re brushing our teeth together, she’ll do exactly the same expression. And when I’m putting my face creams on in the morning, everything that I do, she’ll copy me exactly. It’s so cute.”
“Because you really never think that’s going to happen! Because Honor‘s not like that at all, but Havie wants to do everything like me, it’s really sweet.”
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Alba says her greatest wish for her children is that they are “happy and fulfilled,” and shares that while Honor doesn’t mimic her mom consciously, she does take after her in one very specific — and frustrating — way.
“I was a pretty stubborn and tough kid, and when I didn’t get my way, I would cross my arms and stomp my feet,” The Honest Company co-founder recalls. “And the first time Honor did that, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It was like I got thrown back into being 7 again.”
“But the thing is, my mom wasn’t trying to talk to me about it. She was like, ‘You’re in trouble, you’re grounded, you’re going to your room.’ ”
And the mother of two learned pretty quickly why her own mother employed that specific technique.
“I tried to talk to Honor. I’m like, ‘Let’s talk about your feelings. Why do you think you’re reacting this way?’ But she’s having none of it,” Alba says. “She wants me to leave her alone and let her have her moment in anger or frustration or whatever it is.”
For more from Jessica Alba, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.