BIRTHFIT Podcast Episode 107 featuring Tracy Cutchlow
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Hello, BIRTHFIT. This is Dr. Lindsey Mathews, your BIRTHFIT founder and CEO. Today, on the BIRTHFIT podcast we have Tracy Cutchlow. She is a journalist and the editor of the bestselling books Brain Rules for Baby and Brain Rules. The cool thing is she just had another book come out, which is why she’s here because I want to share this book with all of you. It’s called Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science. If you want to check this book out, you can go to zerotofive.net and it’s the first thing there. You can also purchase this book on Amazon. But yes, she’s talking today. She’s giving us some insight into parenting for her and how it has gone and what basically has influenced her in the book-making process. Enjoy this episode. Let us know if you have any questions. You can reach out to us firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out directly to Tracy as there’s some contact info on the zerotofive.net website.
All right, announcements before we actually dive in and put our listening ears on. June 7th, 8th and 9th, BIRTHFIT Summit. This is the annual BIRTHFIT Summit and this year we have opened up Saturday for the general public. Basically, that is not a regional director, male, female, young, old, whatever you identify as, you are welcome to the BIRTHFIT Summit. You can purchase these tickets for $79 on our website. Go to our website, type in BIRTHFIT Summit if you can’t find anything right away in the search options, and you will find ticket information. Also, if you follow us on Instagram, you’ve probably seen some ticket information there, or in any of the BIRTHFIT Facebook groups, you might have found the ticket information there. Limited seats, we probably have about 80 left, if that. Yes, there are no wait lists, there are no last minute things about getting people in because we have to keep our numbers and work with the hotel, which is Hotel South Congress. Get your tickets now, people.
Also, check out our website. BIRTHFIT seminars for the rest of 2018 are up. These are set for the rest of the year. Those are the only locations that we will be doing. Sign up, get in where you fit in, because just like the summit, space is limited.
The last few announcements I will say, BIRTHFIT Prenatal Program online, BIRTHFIT Postpartum Program online. There’s a huge community that has done this and is doing this. I invite you to join in. There’s tons of information, tons of videos, lots of videos on our YouTube. If you have not inquired about our online programs, I encourage you to do so now. We even have a Before the Bump program which has nutrition, lifestyle management training. It’s an awesome one, a true gem. But go to our website. Check those out. Now, you can enjoy this episode.
Hello and welcome to The BIRTHFIT Podcast. Today, I have Tracy Cutchlow on the podcast. Say hello, Tracy.
Tracy: Hello, BIRTHIT.
Lindsey: Let everybody know who you are and what you do in this world.
Tracy: Yeah. Well, I am the author of the parenting book Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science. What I’m doing in this world is trying to prepare new parents with the knowledge that they really need for parenting, which is not about all the gear and all of that, but about the very simple things that are really important for baby’s brain development.
Lindsey: I like that. If you would have looked back at your life maybe 10, 15 years ago, is this what you though you would be doing?
Tracy: No, I was working in newspapers.
Tracy: Yes, I apprenticed as a journalist. Yes, I started editing books on the side. One of them is the brain development book called Brain Rules and then Brain Rules for Baby. That’s how I got started on this path. At the time, I didn’t have a baby, but once I did, I realized there so much I knew a lot of the science in the back of my mind. But really using that in a practical way, like knowing how to use it, how to apply it, sitting there with my baby was a whole different thing and I just I was used to feeling incredibly competent in my work. With my baby, I felt so clueless and overwhelmed. I wanted this reference that was just this tell-me-what to do kind of thing. I didn’t see that out there. There are a billion parenting books and they’re all great, but when you’re a new mom you don’t really have the mental bandwidth to go back through all of that and dig for the practical pieces. I felt like why should all of us have to read all 75 of those books? I’m just going to make the one that summarizes everything and it’s just super practical and the one tip per page version that you can just flip open or leave it laying open and walk by and scan something, something we can use.
Lindsey: Like the CliffsNotes.
Tracy: Yes. It’s like CliffsNotes. It started out focused on brain development, but then as I was thinking about all the questions I has — as a perfectionist, I had many questions — and then what my friends were talking about, it grew. So it covers sleep, feeding, potty training, discipline, everything through age five.
Lindsey: Yes, that’s crazy, zero to five. That’s a lot. Did you take any parenting classes leading up to your birth, your pregnancy, anything during that that you felt prepared you at all? Or any good books?
Tracy: Well, leading up to the birth, I did take a childbirth education class and I was lucky to have the legendary Penny Simkin here in Seattle.
Lindsey: Oh, not everybody gets that.
Tracy: No, no. no. The thing that she said that stuck with me the most actually did not have to do with the labor, but what she said was — well, there were two. One was that to get enough sleep, don’t get out of bed or get ready for the day or mentally say that you’re up until you have accumulated eight hours. So just kind of like if you’re lounging about in your pajamas or whatever but just sleeping when baby sleeps and all of that. Just get the sleep. That’s the first thing. I think it’s so easy to feel like you’re supposed to jump back into your previous life. The second thing was that the mother’s job is to just feed the baby and rest and recover and the partner’s job is to do everything else. Take care of the house, manage the food, bring the water. It was super helpful and I don’t think we would have really thought about that, otherwise.
Lindsey: Yes, so did that play a role in your immediate postpartum period? Did you all enroll husband in all the chores or partner in all the chores?
Tracy: Yes, it made a huge difference. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult.
Lindsey: Yes. The postpartum period, the first 12 months, one of the most recent podcast was with a dad and he was saying, “It’s an adjustment and we had to learn to survive the first year and then basically go back to our relationship and learn how to be a couple again.”
Tracy: Yes. Well, kudos to him for realizing that it was going to be a year. Well, that is actually what researchers define as the transition to parenthood, and I think that’s not necessarily widely understood. You could probably imagine a couple of months, I’ll figure it out. No, give yourself that time.
Lindsey: Yes, what does research say, a whole year, give yourself that transition?
Tracy: Yes, the transition to parenthood is a year.
Lindsey: For mom and partner or dad, everybody involved?
Tracy: Including the baby. Yes, for the adults. It is such a process of first that survival. How do we even keep the baby alive and keep ourselves sane? How do we get back to our relationship? Sometime down the road you realize where did I go personally? Who am I now? Bits and pieces, I’m going to have to let go of some pieces of myself to bring in this new relationship but which pieces do I want to bring back in and how? There’s so much to it. As for the survival part, there are many hard parts.
Lindsey: Yes, you cannot rank them.
Tracy: No. I just remember what I thought the birth, what I imagined the birth would be, in a warm tub, with a doula and midwife, perfectly smooth. And no, I ended up in the hospital with a C-section and our daughter wasn’t breathing when she was born and all this. Then there’s the whole process of helping her gain weight.
Lindsey: It’s a little stressed, like lots of stress.
Tracy: That was stressful, yes. And I was upset at that time by how new mothers are shoved out into the world on their own in a way because I think about the way that things are done in many other countries around the world where your family is really descending upon you to nurture you and guide you and take care of the household and the other stuff. You’re not expected to do anything besides recover and be with your baby for the first 40 days. That’s not how things are here. When you go through that experience, I, at least, kind of grieve for that.
Even I had a sense of the importance of that kind of support. It was one reason I was going with midwives because they actually did have a philosophy where they would come to your house postpartum and visit and see how things are going. But just the way that it worked with mine, once you’re transferred to a hospital, then your care is transferred as well. That initial relationship gets cut off. I didn’t end up getting that support after. I saw how necessary that was and how good it would have been. I encourage parents-to-be to build that support into whatever degree you’re able.
Lindsey: I hear you. After birth, it usually does not go as planned. You have this baby and this life and “Oh, shit. Now I’m a parent. Now, what do I do?”
Tracy: Yes, that is where my book kind of takes off. It’s not about anything medical or in the survival mode, but once you feel like you’ve kind of gotten that down, I just remember so clearly that moment when my baby was fed and dry and happy and then looked up at me kind of like “And now what are we going to do?” And I thought, all right, now what are we going to do?
Lindsey: Don’t do anything. Did you have a parenting philosophy before you became a parent? Or did you feel like that was created basically once you became a parent on the postpartum side of things?
Tracy: Yes, I think it’s hard to know what you need before you’re a parent. Our society is so focused on stuff. The baby shower is all about stuff and you walk into baby stores and it’s all about gear. You don’t really get the sense that you’re going to need information and support about your parenting philosophy. I spent my time on craigslist looking for the right crib and the right swaddling blanket. I was setting things up for the house before baby. That’s probably just natural. You don’t really know what you need.
I definitely have grown so much over the years figuring this out on the fly. I think at first, a lot of your philosophy comes from your parents or what you see among your friends if they have kids. It’s really just when you’re in it in the moment and something happens with your baby. For example, I was breastfeeding one time, the first time that my daughter bit me. It’s not like you read up about what to do ahead of time. It’s just in that moment a round of ideas come into your head, you do them, and it’s a process of observing. What did that make me feel? What was my reaction? Where did that reaction come from? How did my baby react? Is this something that works for me? Your philosophy is going to form that way and then you go out searching. That was where I decided on this path of positive parenting, mindful and conscious and peaceful parenting.
Lindsey: I like that, mindful and peaceful.
Tracy: Well, you notice these things. My daughter was a toddler, I forget what was happening, but I wanted her to do something and she wasn’t and I said, “All right on the count of three. One, two.” My tone of voice was kind of threatening. She ran to do that thing and I thought, whoa, that does not feel good to me. I didn’t intentionally wield this power over her like that. You have these ideas in your head about how you’re going to react, and I think the important thing is being aware of whether that feels right. You’re going to try some things. Some of them are going to feel good and some aren’t.
Lindsey: Yes, that’s so true. I think that’s with anything in life. This just came up. When you try something like that like the one, two, three with a certain tone of voice and you realize “Ooh, this doesn’t feel so good inside of me,” do you then apologize or bring awareness to that with your daughter? How would you navigate around that situation or just not do it again the next time?
Tracy: Yes, with me, I tend to bring it up just “Oh, that wasn’t the way I wanted to handle that.” I’ll have a do-over. Do-overs are big. Good for kids and adults.
Lindsey: Yes, I would have liked some do-overs growing up.
Tracy: Sure. Well, for me, it was a process. You do go out looking for tools and information about parenting philosophies. I started looking into as kind of contingent steps into consequences, natural consequences versus logical consequences. I kind of experimented with that, spent some time thinking about that, and then realized how do I want our relationship to be? I don’t really want it to be this you’re doing something because you’re trying to avoid this random, not necessarily random but —
Lindsey: Like a consequence.
Tracy: Yes, this kind of threat or bribe or reward or whatever. I realized really that connection was the most important thing. Not that there are no consequences in life obviously.
Lindsey: But maybe having it come from that like that connection you say and more internal motivation than external.
Tracy: Yes, really a focus on skill-building and problem-solving. I learned to take a very long-term view. What are my values? What are my real goals here? What kind of person am I hoping to raise as an adult? What skills does she need throughout all of these years to practice over and over? How can I give her the opportunity to practice those?
Lindsey: What would you say are the skills for your daughter that you’re trying to teach her?
Tracy: One is independence. Today we went to the donut shop and she picked out the one that she wanted and then I ordered mine and I had her order hers. Or I leave her space to be able to play on her own instead of overscheduling her afternoon to just have that time where nothing is happening and she can dive into her own creative, imaginative world. Teaching her things like making breakfast or how to cross the street safely or letting her climb up on a tree. The visual in my head is instead of grabbing on to the child’s shirt while they’re doing this, it’s just having an open hand there to catch them if they need help but not like holding on so tightly, if that makes sense. Just like “Here’s something you want to do. How can I help you do this without doing it for you? Let me give you one little next step.” Then creativity, helpfulness.
Lindsey: Those three are pretty good so far. I’m thinking of like adults that need these. Independence, helpfulness, even creativity.
Tracy: Yes, being able to work out your problems with another person, without it turning into a big problem. I call them communication. Well, emotional regulation is a huge one. That’s just foundational. It’s pretty much everything. Being able to do anything in our lives.
Lindsey: Yes. How do you start to, something like emotional regulation, how do you start to embrace that as a skill that you want to embark on your little one as a parent? Because you can’t start that at two weeks old. I mean can you? I mean you might have tricks on this books that we don’t know about yet.
Tracy: Well, actually, a big part of it is modeling, being aware of emotions, being accepting of emotions, all of them, not just happiness.
Lindsey: Wait, that’s huge, not just happiness because there’s ups and downs in life. I’m really glad you said that.
Tracy: When your child is upset, to be able to sit with them and be empathetic and let them have that feeling is really huge. It’s so common to be dismissive instead because a lot of us were raised that way. Those feelings, when they just get buried, will come out in another less pleasant way. We learn to distract ourselves from them with food or shopping or TV or any of those things. I definitely want my daughter to have the skill of noticing what an emotion feels like in her body and be able to name that and have tools for coming back into regulation.
It’s funny, you say two weeks. We actually have this little pamphlet that had been mailed to us from the Department of Health or somebody with these illustrations of kids. It was just the developmental milestones kind of thing. At this age, your child wants you to play with them or talk with them, whatever. But when our daughter was just a little baby and she was crying about something, sometimes to change up the scene, we would walk her over to the fridge, point to those pictures and feel like, “Ah, this person is feeling this.”
Lindsey: They’re feeling just like you.
Tracy: Yes, we’re both feeling sad right now. I guess you can start early, but beyond that, maybe the earliest thing you can do is start reflect yourself like what are your feelings about emotions? How were they handled in your house? Is that the way that you want them to be handled in your own home now? If you need to, practice yourself paying attention to your emotions and what they feel like in your body and naming those for yourself and accepting all of them.
Lindsey: It makes sense that at a child’s very young age, early on, that mom, dad, partner, whoever kind of embrace and focus on their emotions, because even if the little one can’t have a conversation and identify their emotions, they feel that energy. That makes sense.
Tracy: So much of it is modeling, so much of how they learn. When we’re able to say, “I’m so frustrated right now, I’ve got to step aside here and take some deep breaths,” that’s part of skill-building for them too.
Lindsey: Yes, I can totally see that. How old or about what age would you say that your daughter, other children, are they able to start identifying emotions like “Hey, mom, I feel happy or I feel sad,” things like that?
Tracy: Well, I guess it depends on how articulate your child as to whether they’ll say those words early on. Even just you naming it for them gives them this sense of “Okay, that’s what that is. That’s a normal thing. It’s okay.” There’s not like this big overwhelming feeling that I don’t know what to do with it, that my parent is acting like I shouldn’t have.
Lindsey: Yes, they might need that vocabulary to put a name to it first.
Tracy: It’s really these emotions start coming out in a bigger way around two years old and things are a little wild. I remember my daughter, she wanted her buttons snapped or her pants snapped. She goes “Help, I want my pants snapped.” I came over and snapped the. And she goes “Ugh! I wanted to do it myself.” I was “Oh, okay.” I unsnapped them. “Go for it.” “Ah, I want my pants snapped!”
Lindsey: You go, yeah, I don’t know what to do.
Tracy: “Did you want me to snap them?” “Yes!” You just have to roll with these things.
Lindsey: This actually relates well. When I found out you were going to be one of our guest, I asked our BIRTHFIT tribe group if they had any questions. One of the questions was how do you support a child through the terrible twos?
Tracy: Just wait till they’re threes. No.
Lindsey: Do they call it the terrible twos because finally the emotion hits, all of these at once?
Tracy: I think it feels really tough because you’ve spent so time up to this point really being the one who does the things for your child. As a baby, they can’t do anything for themselves. You are managing everything and meeting every one of their needs. Then they start to become more independent at 18 months or so, they’re really so much like “Oh, let me do the things that you’re doing. Let me put on your shoes. Let me take a bite from your plate instead of mine even though the foods the same.” To go from that to let me do it myself, and I’ve got my own opinions about what needs to happen here is just such a kind of a shock.
Lindsey: It’s like the first introduction to being a teenager, it sounds like.
Tracy: But there’s actually a lot of joyfulness during that time. Age three is actually technically the peak of defiance, and I think even more difficult because you start to get triggered yourself in ways that you didn’t even realize were there. But going back to the question.
Lindsey: How do you survive this?
Tracy: There is an element of just rolling with it. There’s also acknowledgement is such a huge piece. There’s so many aspects in life that our children have no control over. There’s so many decisions that they can’t make, so many decisions that are going to go the opposite of what they want. But when we can acknowledge what it is that they want first before we redirect or correct, just that sense of feeling heard is huge. It can often change the dynamic of the whole interaction.
The framework that I love is called the Language of Listening. It was founded by Sandy Blackard. The first step in that is always, always say what you see, which is a neutral statement about something you see in the physical world. It’s not coming from fear or judgment or teaching or fixing. It’s just a super neutral fact.
That story with my daughter and her shorts, it might have just been “You want your shorts snapped.” It sounds so simple but just that acknowledgement. Or you really wanted that and we can’t do it right now. We’ll have to do it when we get home or whatever. That simple acknowledgement of what you wanted. Or you are feeling so frustrated right now. It’s calming neurologically to them. It’s giving us a moment to pause and get out of our heads. When we don’t do that, when we just jump into the correction or the you’re wrong or it can’t be done that way or you’re making a bad choice kind of stuff, which never sounds like that. It sounds like “Oh, you’re full, just come on, just eat one more bite. You hardly ate anything.” Or “You want to wear those shoes, no.” “You’ve got to wear this coat.” It’s all of that kind of thing. When we jump straight to that, it puts our child in a position of needing to defend themselves. That’s just natural. That’s just the way our brains are wired. It’s like now I have to prove this is important to me and they will escalate. The principle says that children must continue to communicate until they feel heard. So when you can help them feel heard right from the first moments, even when they can’t have the thing that they want, you are stemming that power struggle. It’s not even there anymore.
Lindsey: That makes sense. Would this be along the same lines and ideas how to correct a child during a full-on meltdown or does this help prevent those meltdowns? How do you deal with it? Because I see probably at one point, every parent will experience those full-on meltdowns, maybe in public, maybe at home, maybe anywhere. Somebody typed this question. How do I correct my child during their meltdown? Everybody was like YES, YES, YES.
Tracy: Well, the first thing to realize is you can’t. The brain is not in a learning mode at that moment. What they’re really telling you is “I can’t regulate myself right now. I need your help to come back into self-regulation. This is overwhelming to me. I can’t do it.” That’s really what they’re saying. They’re not trying to piss you off.
Lindsey: Yeah, that makes sense.
Tracy: It’s hard for us because we’re feeling triggered in that moment, especially if you’re in public and you’re thinking people are looking at me. They’re judging whether I can handle my kid. But that is all coming from a misunderstanding of brain development, those other people’s judgment.
There can be a couple of things going on. It’s important for us to think about the environment right now. Like has our child just come from a full day of daycare and we’re trying to go grocery shopping with them without giving them time to run around at the playground in between? Did we forget about snack time? Are they hungry? Are they tired? Is this a good environment or do we need to just stop and reset and go take care of those basic needs? Maybe nobody else forgot about snack time, but I did.
The other thing is to say what you see can help head off some of those tantrums as well. When your child is maybe first starting to talk — you’re at the store and they’re first starting to feel like “Oh, I want this, I want that. Can I have this? Can I have that?” to just take a moment and be like “Yes, you would really like that. Yes, if we had that at home, what would you do with that?” or “You wish you could have all the fairies in the world.” Go into it with them a little bit about that thing that they want and make it okay that they want it. But then in the middle of the tantrum, that’s just about — if it’s not a situation where you realize you just need to leave.
I’ve said things like, “This is a really hard time for you right now. I just realized you must be hungry and it’s really hard to regulate your emotions when you’re hungry. Let’s get out of here and get you a snack.” Or, in the grocery store, eat this. But let’s say it’s not about that. In the middle of a tantrum, you can still be there with the emotion or with the thing it is that they wanted. There’s something that set it off, and so if you can, just acknowledge what that is and do it in a way — one thing that helps them feel heard is when the intensity of your voice kind of matches their intensity. Oh my goodness, you wanted that so bad, you wanted that and you cannot have it. It is so frustrating. You feel like you’ve got this energy and you just need to get it out. You are stomping and I don’t see a place to stomp around here. As soon as we get outside, we’re going to do such big stomps. I mean I don’t know what. You kind of have to go with who you know your kid is and where you are and what the options are.
But there are so many options. There are actually so many options when you think of it from a problem-solving mode. The other important thing is the need that your child has in that moment is not necessarily — it’s never the thing. It’s never the thing. The need is either experience or connection or power. When you look at the situation through that lens, you can think about there’s so many ways to meet those needs and you can think about alternative ways of meeting them.
Lindsey: You said connection, power. What was the third one?
Lindsey: Experience, that makes sense. Okay.
Tracy: What is this world about? What can I do? How do I use my body? How do things work? Kids love to try things out and they want to do stuff with us and it’s so much easier. Even though it takes more time and it’s messier, it’s so much easier to look for ways to involve them. They want to stir the thing in the bowl, fine. They want to put the spices in, great. If you feel like you can’t go that far, just letting them smell the spices and then you put them in. Whatever level that you can involve them. You’re heading off having to deal with the tantrum and the repair and all of that. Connection is, of course, that sense of belonging and running to feel safe and secure. Power is a sense of control over aspects of your life. It’s huge to give your child these choices. Not a ton of choices, just a couple, where their answer is going to be okay with you either way.
Lindsey: But to allow them to feel like they have that choice and the power to choose.
Tracy: Autonomy, yes. If you’ve noticed that your child has a high need for power, to look for ways throughout the day that you can give them these choices is going to give a big difference. Teaching them how to do things themselves if you’ve got a two, three, four plus year old. In the kitchen, do you have some dishes in a place that they can reach? I just kind of lucked into taking this parent-child class at a Waldorf school with my daughter before preschool. The belief that they have in what children are capable of doing was really eye-opening to me because it would be snack time and the kids would have muesli every day. The kids would have the hammer and be pounding the almonds for the muesli. Then they would set the table and the dishes were all ceramic. They weren’t plastic kid dishes. The kids would clear the table and take their dish over to the dishwashing station and they would wash their dishes. It’s not perfect but…
Lindsey: It’s pretty awesome, though. Yes.
Tracy: To see what kids are actually capable of. These are 18-month-old kids, two-year-old kids. Then we would do these art and crafts projects. They would be sewing things with embroidery needles. When you haven’t had a kid before and you’re not around a lot of kids, you don’t really know. I think our kids are hungry to be able to do these things. If we break it down into these small steps and show them, they’re so capable. That is a real sense of power, to know how to do something. To be able to do it yourself, that’s everything.
Lindsey: Yes, for sure. How important are routines for children? What happens if the routine gets disrupted?
Tracy: Well, kids definitely thrive on routine and predictability, but some more than others. Some kids are temperamentally very flexible and others are temperamentally much more sensitive to that predictability. So much of parenting is really about watching your child and learning who they are and setting them out for success. When you have a child who needs that predictability, to give them notice of when something is going to happen five minutes to two minutes and then to allow time for the transition. It’s time to go now. Let’s say goodbye to our toys. Bye, bye toys. And to build that time in because if you don’t, you’ll be spending a lot more time doing something else that’s not as fun. It’s nice if you can have even a little tiny baby practicing talking about what’s going to happen with them even while you’re changing a diaper. “I’m going to lift up your legs now. Here comes the wipe.” The sense of knowing what’s going to happen.
For routines, part of it depends on your child, part of it depends on you. I’m horrible at routines. I’m not good at them myself for myself. There are a few things where I knew I didn’t entirely want to pass that on. For me, sleep and meal times, I work very hard to keep those consistent. That means some sacrifice like you can’t stay out with your friends later in the evening or something. If bedtime is at a certain time, you’re home for that.
But those kinds of the most basic routines of sleeping and eating I think are super important. But then beyond that, I think if you’re a perfectionist, you can feel like oh, the day is supposed to be entirely regimented, and if we’re off by a few minutes, I’m messing this up and this is bad for my kid. That’s not true. Life is life and they’ll be fine. I definitely do believe in the sleep and the eating, consistent routines for those, because you’re setting up daily habits that are going to serve you well for years. But no, you don’t have to have art time from nine to ten and then playground time from here to here and all that.
Lindsey: That’s good to know. That’s really good to know.
Last question before we get off. You have in your book, you mentioned Carol Dweck and the growth and fixed mindset. This was really fascinating to us because, every regional director that comes on to BIRTHFIT reads Mindset by Carol Dweck. How do you apply this to zero to five?
Tracy: This is about how we talk to our kids when they’ve done something that we want to encourage or when we’re offering criticism. The idea is that children develop one of two of these mindsets. One being the fixed mindset, being that they have a fixed amount of intelligence or talent, and there’s not really much they can do to change that. A child with that mindset, once things start to get difficult for them and there’s a challenge that they’re trying to overcome, as they start failing at that, they tend to attribute it to their own character that I’m not smart enough to do this. I’m not good enough to do this. Because I can’t change that, why will I even try?
With the growth mindset, the sense is I have a certain amount of intelligence or talent, but with effort, I can change that. So as they start getting into the challenges, they know that they can apply more effort and that’s what will help them move forward past the challenge. What Dweck found was that the way that we talk to our kids helps create one of these two mindsets, that if we focus on praise of character traits like “Look what you just did, you’re so smart,” or “The way that you built that tower of blocks, you are a natural engineer,” that it helps build this fixed mindset. That if we instead acknowledge what it is that we see our children doing, “Wow, that tower of blocks, part of it fell down and you kept building it. You are persistent.” Make it about them rather than our own opinion about them, if that makes sense.
Lindsey: Yes, completely. That’s huge.
Tracy: Yes, they’re not looking to us or to others for that approval, but we’re just showing them the evidence of this quality that’s inside of them.
Lindsey: Yes, yes, that could go. I could see that going just a long way in life.
Tracy: Right, that self confidence that you know who are, you know your strengths. You have this proof and these words. Our words to our children are really the first things that help develop their self-beliefs, defining that for them. They think in such an abstract way and the words that we use are really transferring that into the concrete and giving it meaning. To rebuild the blocks, is the meaning of that you’re a great engineer or is the meaning of that that you’re a persistent person? Yeah, words matter.
Lindsey: Words matter. I wish everybody could check out your book and check out your website. Where can they find you at?
Tracy: My website is zerotofive.net. Yes, the book is there. I send out a newsletter as well. I’m working on some courses too. It’s exciting.
Lindsey: Just for me, glancing through the website and checking out the book, it’s a beautiful book. It’s laid out really nicely. Like you said early on, it’s simple. You don’t have to read long paragraphs to get the practical advice.
Tracy: I love reading. I love books. Sometimes you need the reference.
Lindsey: But you don’t have time. Can you buy the book anywhere else or just on your website.
Tracy: It’s on bookstores. It’s on Amazon. It’s an audio book. Get it wherever you want.
Lindsey: Perfect. However you want to access it.
Tracy: Actually, yes, from my website, from the homepage, you can get an excerpt from the book on growth mindset, if a little more of that interests you. Then you’ll be on my newsletter.
Lindsey: Awesome. Sign up for the newsletter, get the book, do all those good things because it looks like a gem.
Tracy: Thank you. Well, it is an international bestseller, so I’m not the only one.
Lindsey: Because you’re not the only one that thinks so. Yes, awesome. Well, thanks, Tracy, for hanging out with me and giving me some of your time. I know all the listeners are going to love this episode and get some awesome tips from it. Thank you.
Tracy: Thank you. It’s fun to talk with you.
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