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– Hey welcome back to the Urban Monk. Dr. Pedram Shojai here. In the new year, so happy to be thinking about things we should be thinking about like conscious parenting. As most of you know I have a couple young kids at home and my baby is a girl. And boy is she different than that boy. I mean it is night and day the way these two kids have developed. And yeah sure, we were first time parents and we probably did a gajillion things wrong and learned from our mistakes and all that, but they are fundamentally different. And my my approach to raising my daughter has to be different than how I interact with my son and so I’m just trying to figure this out. And fortunately there’s smart people out there that have answers to this that are part of the conscious parenting movement and so with me today I am so happy to introduce Rebecca Branstetter, Doctor Rebecca Branstetter who is the co-author of a book called The Conscious Parents Guide to Raising Girls and I can’t tell you how happy I am to have her here because I’ve got a lot of questions. Welcome, welcome, welcome to the Urban Monk.
– Thank you, good to be here.
– So you are a child psychologist, you are a school psychologist, and you are talking about conscious parenting. None of the school psychologists when I was in school used those words. So how is this starting to make its way into the meme?
– Well, that’s a good question. So I started in my career as a school psychologist, meaning I worked with a lot of students who had learning or emotional or behavioral challenges and I was tasked with trying to uncover one of the root of those challenges and how do we overcome them. And when I started in the field I was 21 and without kids and was dispelling all kinds of amazing parenting advice that you know I was kind of a perfect parent before I was a parent kind of thing. And I’d say like my most, you know I’ve been through many different school districts and I have my private practice and I got my clinical license and I tell ya the best tool of all of helping understand kids is becoming a parent yourself. And so 2011 my best resume changer was having my eldest daughter and then several years later I had my second daughter. So this book came at a really great crossroads for me where I was very interested in parenting as well as how does this layer on top of what I already know about child development?
– So what is fundamentally different like in this new era of conscious parenting that wasn’t like in the book in the stuff that you knew?
– Well I think that if we wanna think about what conscious parenting is and a lot of sort of lingo gets flown around and mindfulness and consciousness and awareness and they all kind of layer on top of the same theme but it’s important to figure out what it isn’t and I think what it was a reaction to is helpful. And traditional parenting roles kind of went from an authoritarian kind of top-down approach, I’m the parent, you’re the child, I impart my wisdom upon you. And if you think in metaphors then it’s sort of like your child is looking at a bunch of paths in front of you and you are a parent and you have your hands on their shoulder and you’re guiding them in the path that you want telling him don’t go in that one go in that one. You wanna go in that one, that’s too bad, that’s not the path you need. And never done from a place of malice but that was just sort of the standpoint was that children need to be guided by their parents. And I think the new literature is sort of a metaphor of walking next to your child and holding their hand with them and yes of course still providing appropriate boundaries but instead of imparting I am the parent, I know more I will teach you it’s how can we walk this journey together? And how can I learn from you? And so I think one of the core features of conscious parenting is sort of this awakening that our kids can also teach us a lot as well about ourselves and about our parenting practices and with the lens of mindfulness we can really begin to understand the relationship and build super strong cohesive bonds in this partnership.
– So there’s a hot stove, there’s a knife, there’s a you know throw your sister into something hard and take us all to the hospital. So there are parts of the parenting experience that we do need to jump in and be like, “monkey no you can’t, “that’s gonna be really bad really fast.” So how does one walk in step and still have appropriate boundaries and maintain some sort of generalship of the floor to make sure that they don’t do the stupid things that would obviously injure and harm them or others?
– Right, I think that’s sort of where a lot of the really interesting schools of thought have emerged on how much should we guide our kids and how much should we let our kids have freedom? And I think sort of history and tons of research has kind of supported that authoritative, which is sort of my way or the highway because I’m the parent is sort of firm boundaries but not very warm. And then on the other side of the spectrum is permissive parenting, which is like super warm and fuzzy but no rules. And then the sort of middle ground is this authoritarian which is warm yet firm, right? And that’s sort of where the sweet spot is in parenting and where you can sort of layer these ideas of mindfulness on top of it. So to give sort of an example, what I might wanna define what mindfulness is, right? Mindfulness, some people sort of conjure up these images of like oh it’s meditation. You’re just sitting there and meditating and who has time for that as a mom or dad, right? But mindfulness really is about nothing more than paying attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. So I think a lot of times we see our kids’ negative behaviors or ways they are acting quote “inappropriately” and we label it good or bad, right? Or if they’re having a strong feeling we label it, oh that’s a good emotion or a bad emotion. But really mindfulness would teach us to not judge that but just notice it and explore it, right? So for example let’s say your infant daughter is in her car seat and she’s playing with her toes and singing to herself and a passerby comes by and says, “Wow,” you know in the parking lot or something, “Wow, what a good baby,” right? Okay, and then what if she was crying her head off, right? Would that person come by and say, “Oh, what a good baby?” No, but maybe she is being a good baby. She’s telling you what she needs in the way she knows how which is crying or throwing a fit, right? So it’s less about sort of categorizing and labeling our children’s behavior and feeling as good or bad and just sort of noticing it and exploring it as their way of communicating. And as we better able understand and try to seek understanding of how our kids are communicating to us then we are less prone to being triggered, right? I think a big trigger for parents is like oh, you’re disrespecting me or something like that. You’re not following the rules. And if you sort of can be mindful in that moment, stop and pause like why is this triggering me? Then you have more of a space to make a choice about how you respond. Does that make sense?
– Yeah, yeah, and that’s the hardest part because you’ve been out running your miles, doing what the hell you do all day, you come home, you’re tired, and you’re ready to wind down and they’re not behaving.
– Yeah, bedtime is my trigger for me. You’re just like, “Go to bed,” right? But I think that there’s a certain, how should I put this? In some cases parents have a mold for what they expect their child will be like, right? This child will be like me or have these traits and when they deviate from that mold as they do because they’re their own humans with their own ideas and you know having two kids that they can be very different even though they have similar genes and same parents. And it’s not about changing your child to be in your image but accepting your child for who they are. And then as you mentioned you can’t let some things go. You definitely need to have rules and boundaries. But it’s not an either or proposition. You can seek to understand where your kid’s coming from and still provide appropriate discipline, right?
– So this is super selfish now, but I’m gonna ask you about terrible twos. Because, so my son is 2-1/2 and he’s right up in there. And so he will challenge every single boundary. And I grew up in the generation where you just didn’t fuck around because dad would just take you and whoop you so you just didn’t, right? And so spanking is off the menu now, right? And so it’s like how do you enforce that with boys because I wanna create a juxtaposition because we’re talking about raising girls, right? And so with boys and boundaries and terrible twos is there a different strategy to implement or are we talking about same strategy different flavor? How do you look at that?
– Yeah, the terrible twos are sort of a perfect example of the terrific twos and the opportunity to better understand yourself as a parent and they’re certainly able to trigger you in a way because in a parent’s mind acting out or having a tantrum is seen as extremely irrational, right? Like your child is freaking out because there’s raisins in the Raising Bran that they asked for, right? Or their shadow is following them or something that is from an adult mindset is just not that big of a deal,
– [Pedram] Get over it.
– And it’s an inappropriate affect for the situation. But what’s really special about the twos is that is the only way they have to communicate and they are having big feelings and they are feeling them just as we feel big feelings but they have not tools yet for coping with them. So if you go for the traditional parenting role of, “Stop it, you’re freaking out for no reason,” or, “I’ll give you something to cry about,” it invalidates their experience and often makes it worse. So what do you do in contrast to that is you seek to validate and understand where they’re coming from and comfort them. So it’s sort of the difference between a time in and a time out. A time out would be like, “Go to your room “you’re being irrational or upsetting,” right? And then a time in is taking the time to sit with them and process what happened, why are you so upset? What can we do to soothe you? And what tools can we give you? So for example if a kid throws a toy because they’re upset, it’s not working the way they want then you can say, “It’s okay to be mad or upset “but it’s not okay to throw toys. “Next time let’s,” this, that, or the other. “Ask me for help,” or whatever it is, right? And I think the best way to sort of conceptualize this for parents who were raised in this more traditional role is think about a time when you were upset and it could be a time you were angry or a time you were really sad and imagine telling a friend how upset you were and they’re saying, “Well, I’ll give you something “to be upset about,” or, “that’s silly,” or, “God, why would you feel that way? “Go to your room. “This is like so inappropriately, “you’re like blowing this out of proportion.” Okay, you’d feel like crap. That would not be a very good friend. So respond to your child in a way you would want a friend to respond to you if you were irrationally upset and I think that is a nice lens for coping with what is often very irrational behavior but very developmentally appropriate. And that’s when they’re really working out, “Oh, I’m having this big feeling “and I don’t know how to deal with it.” And instead of shutting ’em down, “Don’t cry,” or, “Don’t feel that way,” you get to teach them social emotional literacy.
– I love that.
– [Rebecca] It’s an opportunity.
– Yeah, I love that. That’s an opportunity. And there’s a lot of boundaries that happen. We had a nanny that snuck in YouTube videos to let them be quiet and then all of a sudden we had to like take back the YouTube and we realized the enemy was inside the city walls. And so there’s a lot of clawback that happens with an irrational two-year-old who’s like, “Why, what did I do wrong?” And you’re like, “I’m not gonna explain to you “why we hate YouTube, YouTube commercialization “in your brain right now.” And so these are things that are challenges every parent has. And so with boys I’m assuming it’s a little different. What makes raising girls a different ballgame?
– Yeah, it’s such an interesting question. And it’s one that I went into this co-writing this book with a naive mindset because I said, “Oh, I’m gonna write this great book,” to a friend, “It’s on raising girls.” And she’s like, “Is there a difference?” And I was like, “Yeah, there is.” Like your same reaction too like, “They’re like night and day.” But then I was like wait, is there? Like what is the difference? Is it a nature issue, is it a nurture issue? And so that was the lens I had. I put myself in a naive mindset to try to explore that question. And yes, I believe there are many things that are universal across the genders with children in general. Obviously being warm and firm for example works across genders. But there are some nuances in raising girls, isn’t there? And I think that we’re not gonna solve nature versus nurture but we’re gonna focus on the things we do have control over which is the nurture, right? And one of the most important thing I think that I learned from writing this book was, and I actually am a girl turns out, so I’ve been through this before, but is the messaging that girls receive around a number of topics is quite different. It’s sort of the sugar and spice and everything nice phenomenon. Is that girls are sort of naturally perceived to being sweet and compliant and love to read and friendly and all of these things where as boys are perceived to be rambunctious and rowdy and so when we see two kids at a playground we see the boy running around like a monster and we’re like, “Oh, he’s a boy,” right? And if you see a girl running around like a monster you don’t often be like, “Oh, well she’s a girl,” right?
So people place gender labels on behavior and boys’ behavior in terms of sort of it’s called externalizing, sort of acting out behavior is seen as sort of par for the course, boys being boys. But when girls do it it’s seen as sort of abnormal. But in fact there’s a lot of deviation. There’s a lot of really active girls and there’s a lot of really quiet boys, right? So we don’t necessarily always have to subscribe to the like that’s because she’s a girl or because he’s a boy kind of labeling. I think the other thing that’s important about raising girls is particularly as your daughter gets older you’ll find there’s a lot of messaging that the media sends girls that is very disruptive and damaging to a girl’s self esteem. And I’m talking about things from sort of gender roles that are portrayed in sort of fashion and beauty. If you take any sort of women’s magazine there’s really, the Photoshop and all of those sort of media messages of how she’s supposed to look can really permeate a girl’s self esteem and self consciousness. I ran a middle school’s girls group for self esteem building at one of my schools in Oakland and I did an activity in which we looked at girls magazines and we became media literate, right? So we were more critical consumers of the media. What I did was I put up three poster boards. One was like let’s put up pictures, cut out pictures in the magazines of images that show women as beautiful. Now let’s do a poster board of images you find in these magazines of women or girls who are smart, athletic, ya know whatever. And once we cut out all the pictures in all the magazines there was like most of that poster board of like oh women’s value, girl’s value is that they’re beautiful or they look nice and that affords them a lot of things and there was very few images that the girls were seeing in magazines they read that were about women’s competence in other areas besides looking nice. Now of course their whole world has opened up since I did that activity and the blogosphere and the social media and everything. But I think one of the most valuable things we can do with our girls is help them understand the messages they’re receiving.
– Well that’s a deal with the devil. Every time you open up a magazine, every time you watch TV it’s very specifically oriented towards making you not feel well because you don’t have that Maybelline mascara and this beautiful girl does and it’s insidious, right? It’s designed to make you think that beauty is this thing that needs a product to supplement it or a purse to supplement it. And so I think that a lot of just abstinence from certain media is healthy. I don’t know how likely it is in this day and age with all these things that are bombarding our children. So then I want to teach resilience to my daughter. So I want to teach her to look for this as she is growing up. I want her to understand that this is what the media does because not only has it infected the minds of the people around her it’s so out there in the culture that she feels different if she’s thinking differently.
– Right, and I think that like you said it is insidious. It kind of goes even to the gender stereotypes that play out from infancy which is a lot of comments about little girls are about how beautiful and how cute they are and how their outfits are. And then comments about boys tend to be like, “Oh, those shoes are great for jumping up high,” where the girls shoes are like, “Oh, those are pretty,” right? And so even people’s comments when they’re little can kind of start to set the stage for that. So again, like in terms of being media literate and being a critical consumer of media, if you can’t abstain from it at least understand what, like you said, the message they’re trying to do is you need to buy this product to be beautiful and if you’re beautiful then you’re gonna have all the success in the world, right? But it’s also a little bit more pervasive in terms of schooling and as a school psychologist I’ve thought a lot about this and what the sort of gender stereotype is is that girls tend to be more linguistic and towards the arts and the boys tend to be more spatial and towards the math and science. And I think we’re at a really great time frame for raising girls right now, which is this awareness that girls actually can excel in science, technology, and math just as much as a boy and when you look at the neurological research about brain differences there’s no math gene, right? Boy’s have a slight, slight edge in spatial and girls have a slight edge in linguistic skills when they’re little but then those tiny, tiny, tiny differences become blown up by our gender stereotypes, right? And we push the Star Wars Legos on our boys and the princesses and things and sort of the girlish things on our girls and then the girls lose opportunities to build things and the boys lose opportunities to use their linguistic skills and their language. And so it’s about providing the full menu for girls. It’s not about, “Science is better “let’s push our girls to be scientists.” It’s about let’s not take that off the table. Let’s give her a full buffet to choose from and stop guiding her towards only one thing unconsciously. Which folds back to the conscious parenting piece, right? Which is you need to just kind of be aware if you are unintentionally being gender biased in the products that you purchase, the opportunities your children get when you’re raising girls. And I have a PhD and I fall prey to this too. And it was really apparent to me very early on how inadvertently one can gender stereotype their kid’s toy box. Like for example I tried to provide an array of things and I went to my friend’s house who has two little boys and my girls like eyes lit up like saucers like, “What is this stuff?” They had never seen a world of Legos like they had seen and building and tinkering and things. And I told myself well they weren’t really that into that when I put it in their buffet. So that’s why they didn’t pick it but when they were in the situation when they had a lot of different things to choose from they actually did gravitate towards it. So again, I wanna emphasize it’s not about like boy’s or girl’s toys are better or worse. It’s about not limiting your daughters’ interests and activities based on what you think girls should do. So it’s just again that awareness and sort of checking yourself. And also just a note to be like not pushing in a way that says, “Well, she’s gotta have a science “or technology or math career. “So we’re gonna just load it on her,” right? If she doesn’t love those things then you don’t push those upon her but just don’t limit her.
– That’s a big ask and it’s an important big ask because what you’re asking people to do is wake up. There are things that I say that probably came from my grandfather’s grandfather and it has inadvertently snuck into my psyche all the way through and so you’re putting the conscious back into the parents in this. And that’s I think the most important and the most challenging part of all this is the parent has to be aware. And so what are some good practices for parents to stop and check in and kind of scan the situation to ask themselves, “Hey, am I being gender biased? “Am I leading the witness here? “Am I causing more trouble than I should be in my stance?”
– I think the core kind of practice day to day that parents can do is sort of mindfulness technique. And mindfulness is nothing more than being aware in the present moment of what’s going on. And in order to be in the present moment you have to put away your phone, turn off your alerts, and just be with your child. And that sounds easy to do but in some ways it’s really hard to like seriously, authentically be with your child no matter what they’re doing and just really see them and listen to them with all of your heart. We are such a distracted society. It’s very hard. I think another thing that parents can do is if you get triggered by one of your children’s behaviors or an instance in your household constantly triggers you and when I say trigger it means probably evoking a negative reaction in you such as anger or discouragement or dismay that is probably your unconscious, your grandfather’s grandfather’s parenting practice that has been unresolved. And that sounds very woo-woo, very deep kind of stuff but let me just put into like you know real world’s examples. So for example if your you know you as growing up were not popular, right, for whatever reason and you have a daughter you might put all of your energy into making her popular. You wanna right the wrong that was done to you, right? And you’re gonna barricade her from mean girls and sculpt her world so that she doesn’t experience any of the pain you had. And the second your daughter comes home in first grade and says, “Someone’s mean to me,” you’re super triggered, like, “No, my baby, how did you do that,” right? I’m gonna call the parents, I’m gonna talk to the principal, I’m gonna get an anti-bullying curriculum in my kid’s class. When you find yourself being super triggered by something that’s happening in your child’s life that’s exactly when you wanna stop and evaluate, wait, whoa, is this about me? Is this about something I haven’t resolved or is this really about my daughter? And I think that this sort of mean girls phenomenon can be unpacked in a different way other than reacting and jumping in and trying to save her from that. So you know a mindful or conscious parent might kind of just be with her during these painful moments and not try to change and fix. As adults we’re super excited to like, I have my great adult solution that I’m ready to go and you can do X, Y, and Z and next time do this and let’s role play it, right? But I think what we’re missing the mark is just experiencing and being with your daughters during those moments and just acknowledging how she’s feeling. What I tell parents I work with of teenagers who are caught up in dramas and things, if you rescue your child from the dramas and give her the solution then you’re depriving her of opportunities to figure it out and feel successful, right? So I kind of do a 24 hour rule. When she comes to you with so-and-so is doing this thing and excluding me instead of being like, “Well, let’s problem solve this,” right? Give at least 24 hours to just be like, “Wow, that’s really hard. “How’s that making you feel being excluded? “I’m really sorry this is happening,” and compassion, right? And then don’t do anything for 24 hours. Of course if there’s like dangerous things involved do something but don’t do anything. See, I would say half of the drama gets resolved on its own through the child being able to work it out. We jump in way too fast sometimes.
– And we’re problem solvers just by how our minds work. And we’re depriving them of these lessons that actually help them understand who they are and how to interact with other humans. That’s really interesting. As a parent you’re just trying to protect your baby. Like the worst thing is to see them suffer. But that’s part of their growth curve is what I’m hearing.
– Yeah and it’s also conscious parenting is not like perfect parenting, right? You also have to have that self compassion and that viewpoint of strife is an opportunity to learn. Like if parenting is an ocean there’s waves, it’s in and out, sometimes the waves are high sometimes low. It does you no good to be in the middle of the ocean like wishing, “Wow, why are these waves so high, “they shouldn’t be so high,” right? “It should be low tide. “I’ve done everything I can to crash this child “to be in this situation and so why is it still being like?” And Beating yourself up about what did I do wrong, right? Or how can I make this better? And sometimes it just is. And the is what it is kind of mentality is uncomfortable for a lot of people in life and particularly uncomfortable in parenting. You always feel like called to action. But this is where conscious parenting comes in and saves the day, which is like, “Wow, these waves are really high right now for you.” And you sit with it and you, kids aren’t used to sitting’ with stuff. We’re so busy and we numb ourselves with distraction and our kids are scheduled and there’s so little time to just be. We’re always doing. So allowing yourself and your child to have that space to just be is really valuable.
– The nature of trying to fix things, I mean just going into kind of binary archetypal stuff, guys wanna tinker and fix and typically girls wanna sit there and emote and talk it through as we kind of go into our adult selves. How much of that paradigm then gets kind of filtered down into how we see and influence our children there. Like do we just not let our boys do it at all and are okay with our girls to hang there a little longer? Are you seeing us doing it across both genders?
– I think it’s not gender specific. I think that boys need opportunities also to be with their emotions and have their emotions validated and respected as well. I think that gender stereotypes are equally damaging for boys. Which is I’ve seen little boys as young as two who are having normal feelings, you know negative feelings, and they’re told to squash ’em, ya know?
– [Pedram] Tough it out.
– Yep, man up, like you’re two how can you man up? You know what I mean?
– [Pedram] Right.
– Everyone can benefit from being validated. And I can hear the typing on YouTube, “Oh, we’re gonna raise a generation of kids “who are just weak,” and things like that. But it takes a lot of strength actually to sit in negative emotions and deal with them instead of avoiding them, right? It’s strength when you can sit with your feelings or sit with your child’s feelings. And if you think of it this way, the last time you were upset or mad or whatever, if someone validated you and be like, “Wow, that’s really upsetting. “I’m sorry that happened to you.” Does that make you a weak person? Does that somehow make you weak? No, it connects you to the person who’s empathizing with you. And that’s the single most important thing about raising any child and particularly a daughter is that strong bond. The bonds now that you’re making with your one-year-old daughter and even your son for that matter are building the foundation for when really things get tough in middle and high school. And they have really important life-changing decisions to make. If you’ve built that strong foundation and you’ve accepted and appreciated them for who they are and haven’t tried to mold them into your perfect mini me that you wanted to be or want them to be in your image then the door is open when they do have something that they wanna come to you. But if you invalidated their feelings all the years and just like, “You’re being ridiculous,” or “Suck it up,” or whatever it is, whatever message, “You’re being emotional, just relax.” Are they gonna come to you with their big feelings when they’re older?
– [Pedram] No.
– No, they’re gonna shut you out.
– So you have a framework for raising girls of promoting self esteem, building resilience, and then improving communication. Can we tease those out a bit?
– Sure, I think that like I said it starts with this parent-child bond and relationship. And that sets the stage sort of for everything. And in terms of different relationships, the mother-daughter bond and the father-daughter bond are equally important in some ways with raising a daughter. The mother-daughter bond is always sort of thought to be sort of fraught with issues and particularly in middle school but it doesn’t have to be. It’s not always a time of storm and stress for mothers and daughters. I think why you maybe see an amplified version of relationships with your daughter with communication challenges between mothers and daughters often comes from this unconscious parenting where the mom is going to parent in a way that either she wishes she was parented or in a way to prevent her from feeling a certain way and so then the child can feel invalidated, right? But also important is that father-daughter bond which sort of sets the mold for how she sees relationships with men, right? And so if you as a father are seeing her feelings as valid and you are putting aside time that’s just daddy-daughter time and just that then she will see herself as important and valued and take that with her into her relationships, right? And if she sees you treating your wife really well then that’s the mold that she will take with her as well. So parents are role models all day long every day even when you’re tired and grouchy they’re watching you. And so it affords an opportunity to be real with your kids. And so instead of trying to put on a persona like I got this all together, don’t worry about it. You just wanna admit your fallacies, right? Like, “Wow, I was really grouchy this evening “when I was trying to put you to bed “and you and your sister were playing My Little Ponies “instead of going to bed and I snapped at you. “And I just want to acknowledge that I’m sorry for that. “I didn’t really mean to snap at you “but I was very, very frustrated.” So you can model for your kids effective communication and social emotional literacy just by being a conscious parent yourself. In terms of communicating effectively also I think we need to acknowledge that sometimes it might be, especially for teen years, a little more electronic than we’re used to, right? Just a quick text like, “Hey, I’m thinkin’ about you.” Kids can connect electronically as well. It doesn’t take the place of that quality one-on-one time that you wanna carve out but that’s kind of something else that you can foster as well. Is these sort of texts to each other and if it blows up and you have a horrible fight with your daughter in teen years, a little text being like, “Hey, I’m sorry that happened. “Let’s chat when you cool down,” can diffuse things more so than knocking on her bedroom door, right? Those kinds of things are all important considerations. And then the last thing sort of you mentioned about self esteem which is one of the themes in the book. I wanna bring up some really amazing and interesting and sort of new research. It’s not a new concept but it’s kind of burgeoning as something exciting and I think it really layers on not only to girls’ self esteem but children in general. Which is self esteem is sort of seen as a concept that’s I like myself because I’m good at something, right? I’m a good soccer player, I’m a great math person or whatever. But self esteem is related to how you are compared to others, right? I’m good at soccer because I scored more goals than you. Or I’m better at math because I finished my math facts first, right? And so then it’s very tenuous because if you bomb a math test or you have a bad game, well wait where’s my self esteem? Can come in and out depending on the product. And I think another sort of dual lens is self compassion which is teaching our youngsters when they do have challenges to give themselves the kind of self care that they would give a friend. So I find a lot of girls sometimes can be really critical and perfectionistic and if they make a mistake, and not only girls boys as well, but some girls will be really critical and, “Oh, I’m so dumb,” or, “I didn’t do well,” or “I look terrible,” or, “My hair’s horrible “and I’m a horrible friend because I made a mistake.” There’s a really great opportunity to ask your daughter, “Okay, let’s pretend your best friend “was having this problem, made this mistake, “had this giant faux pas. “What would you tell her?” I guarantee you whatever your daughter says is not what she’s telling herself. She might be telling herself, “Oh my god, you’re the biggest loser in school “because you didn’t get asked to prom.” What would happen if your best friend didn’t get asked to prom? Would you say, “You’re a big loser?” And girls are always like, “No, god no. “Okay, well why are you telling yourself that?” So treating yourself like your own bestie is kind of a concept I use with teen girls who are very self critical. And it folds also into what I was talking about before in terms of education. Is that your mindset about your abilities actually can change your performance, right? So I think a lot of girls historically, and I think this is changing, have had a mindset that I’m not good in math or science, right? And that mindset can in fact block them from success. So a really cool study by Carol Dweck, are you familiar with her work? She does sort of the growth mindset versus fixed mindset. And just a quick example is she did a study in which she matched kids’ math abilities. They all had the same abilities. She split up into to different groups, right? The first group she told a story, primed them for a fixed mindset. “Hey, here’s a mathematician, “and he was very good at math from day one, “he was amazing. “Here’s your math test.” And then she took the other matched set and said, “Okay, here’s a story,” and she primed the growth mindset, “about someone who wasn’t very good at math “and then over the years they worked really, really hard “and they became a great mathematician, here’s your test.” Well guess what? The kids with the mindset of math is something you can learn and acquire with effort did way better, even though they were matched on math skills, why? Because when you believe that learning and anything you’re able to improve with effort you’re better able to take risks. It doesn’t mean anything about you. It’s not an all-or-nothing phenomenon. So we gotta teach our girls not to be like, “I’m bad at math,” because what are you gonna do if you are bad at math, ya know? But if it’s, “I need help with math “and I need help with these types of problems,” then you have something you can do.
– I love that, I love that. And it’s such an easy frame of reference to shift in how you approach the child. I think there’s been generations of unconscious parenting. And look, it’s just you do what your mom did and what your dad did and you just kind of emulate, copy, and move on. And we’re in this really interesting phase now where we’re looking at things and there’s studies and we understand things that have been validated that are really turning a lot of stuff upside down. And then there’s a lot of kind of pushback saying, “Look, the 7th place team shouldn’t also get a trophy.” And so it’s curious to see where all this is gonna land because I see there’s a lot of talk out there. Raising girls, the book is called A Conscious Parent’s Guide to Raising Girls, it’s a mindful approach to raising a strong and confident daughter. I am going to read this on my flight tomorrow ’cause I owe it to my daughter and my wife frankly to know what I’m doing around here. And I think it’s really important. I really admire the steps that you’ve taken. There’s a lot of education and a lot of people stop educating themselves. It’s like okay, I got my PhD I know this stuff, next. I’m the expert. And then a daughter shows up and you get kicked in the teeth and you have to keep learning and realizing that things aren’t always as they are in the books and we got a lot of learning to do. So thank you for doing the work and thank you for writing the book. How can people find you, how can people find your work? Obviously get the book, but how else can people find your work?
– Yeah, people can, I have an Amazon Author page under Rebecca Brandstetter. If you go on Amazon and Google Rebecca Branstetter you can see I have written a variety of books on conscious parenting not just for girls but also for ADHD and executive functioning disorders. Which if you don’t know what it is then have a look see. I also have a blog in which I write sort of practical parenting advice for parents and professionals and it’s called Notes From the School Psychologist. So if they look at Notes From the School Psychologist you can have a look at some of the articles I have written to help parents and professionals with raising confident children.
– Love it, love it. Rebecca thank you so much. I love the work that you’re doing. I’d love to have you back on the show. There’s lots of trending events and current events and things that are coming that I think I could use your opinion on as they cross my desk on the news. And keep doing this good work, our daughters and our sons they deserve it. And I learned a couple things immediately that I’m gonna start implementing at home so thanks for that.
– Thank you for having me.
– Yeah, so let me know what you think in the chat threads, wherever you’re seeing this and I will see you next time. It’s Doctor Pedram Shojai, the Urban Monk.