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Episode 95: Unlocking the Power of Self-Awareness: Keys to Achieving Success with Dr. L. Carol Scott

Brief summary of show:

In this episode, we’re talking about how to become more self-aware, and joining me for this conversation is Dr. L. Carol Scott.

Is self-awareness the key to overall success? What is it really, and how can you make sure that you have it?

Dr. L. Carol Scott is a trauma-informed developmental psychologist, TEDx speaker, coach, and #1 International Best-Selling author. Carol brings the SASS—Self-Aware Success Strategies to help you get along better on the adult playgrounds where you play.

Carol knows that your success today is determined by your first seven years of life. And she also knows that it’s never too late for Development Do-Overs. As her coaching client, you bring your unique goals for success, and she pulls out the SASS you need to achieve them. Together, you repattern how you operate in every relationship at the heart of your success.

Also a nationally respected thought leader in early care and education (ECE), Carol is former president of the board for Child Care Aware® of America, and the ECE System Integration Consultant for Early Care Plus, a public benefit technology company revolutionizing access for all parents and caregivers to the ecosystem of ECE services.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [2:15] What self-awareness is, means and why it's important

  • [3:30] Tips to help our children become self aware

  • [4:55] Mistakes parents may make in early childhood with their kids

  • [8:30] How we can make fixes and repairs in later years

  • [15:15] How do you define success?

  • [17:35] Is it hard to find more self-awareness today vs. years ago?

  • [20:30] The impact of technology on kids and teens

Notes from Natalie:

Connect with Dr. L. Carol Scott

Connect with Me

View Transcript for this Episode

[00:00:00] Natalie: Self-awareness. Is it the key to overall success? What is it and how can you make sure that you have it?

[00:00:10] Natalie: Hi everyone. It's Natalie. How are you? Thank you so much for being here, and if I haven't said it before, I applaud you for taking the 20 minutes to improve yourself by listening to this podcast.

[00:00:20] It is such an honor to have you tune in and share what you learn with your friends and your family. After reporting on health issues from major TV stations across the US for more than two decades, this podcast is the. I hope to continue to bless you and your family with health and wellness topics.

[00:00:39] Today I am talking to international bestselling author, TEDx speaker and success Coach l Carol Scott, with a PhD in developmental psychology. Carol has worked with hundreds of children and families. She also has an MA in Early Childhood Education and Behavior Analysis and a BA in Human Development and family life. She most [00:01:00] certainly understands human behavior and motivation. She's guided by two truths. That I think are very important today. You are not stuck with what you grew up with and it's never too late for development do-overs.

[00:01:13] Listen today as we talk about the importance of self-awareness in early childhood development, common mistakes, parents make, technology and how it impacts us, and yet still helps us teaching critical thinking to kids and our continual need to think this way as adults.

[00:01:32] and also Carol's seven self-aware success strategies in how you can learn them. You're gonna love what you're about to learn today. Thanks again for being here. Let's get started.

[00:01:43] Dr. Scott, good to have you on the podcast. I wanna go right into this concept of self-awareness. What is it? I mean we, we know kind of at a high level what self-awareness is, but why is it so important? Why have you spent so much time on

[00:01:57] Dr. L Carol Scott: this? You know, what I discovered in my [00:02:00] early part of my career working with young children and their families is that it is in the early years that we first really learned to be conscious of ourselves in relationship to others, which I think is.

[00:02:10] Part of self-awareness, being aware of my impact on other people not being like stressed and worried about it and constantly being socially anxious about it. That's like the negative side. The flip side of self-awareness is social anxiety. Mm-hmm. . But to be conscious that I'm a person, you're a person, you and I are different and I have an effect on you, you have an effect on me.

[00:02:32] And so I, what I've discovered, I think over my whole career, is that, that's a pretty essential understanding that we need to, if we didn't get it from, you know, birth to seven, when it was kind of ready for us, then it's time to get it sometime later, because that's essential to healthy relationships for adults.

[00:02:53] Natalie: So let's go to that zero to seven, as you mentioned. Mm-hmm. , for those who have kids in that range, or their thinking of [00:03:00] having

[00:03:00] kids, how do we ensure that we. Giving that to our kids, that we're helping them become self-aware.

[00:03:08] Dr. L Carol Scott: You know, I think the first thing to realize and not be too scared of is that children are building their brains from birth to five, mostly from birth to three when it comes to the interpersonal stuff.

[00:03:19] Their brains are literally being wired by how we interact with them. And so the most important thing is to be aware that this is a. From the moment of birth, this is a unique person. And to treat them with the respect that you would like to be treated as a person to recognize that whatever they're doing right now, they're invested in it.

[00:03:40] They're there in the moment, in the now. So a baby who is reaching for something is working on so many levels, motor, cognitive interaction with the world. They're activating so many different parts of their brain and they don't need you to step in and do it for them. , let them do what they're doing and [00:04:00] observe.

[00:04:00] So I really invite most parents of all ages of children, slow down, drop out of your warp speed adult life. Slow down and just look at what your child is doing and watch, observe, and let them tell you when they want you to intervene. .

[00:04:17] Natalie: Wow. Okay. So what are the most common mistakes other than jumping in and doing it for which so many people, myself included, guilty.

[00:04:26] Mm-hmm. .

[00:04:26] What are some of the other mistakes that we make in early childhood with our

[00:04:30] Dr. L Carol Scott: kids? I think number two on my list would be that we assume that a transitory developmental stage that's expected is an identity, is a permanent. . The classic examples are stranger danger. So children from about eight months to about 18 months go through this period where they're shy of other people.

[00:04:52] They feel like other people aren't safe, and if they get labeled as shy during that [00:05:00] period. Mm-hmm. , which is very common, particularly for girls then for the rest of their lives. Everyone thinks they're shy and they behave, believe they're shy, and they behave as if they. , but in fact it's just a developmental stage that they're going to grow out of.

[00:05:12] And the second one is the toddler, the 18 month to 30 ish month old child who is basically a wild animal. is the way I think of them. They really, a lot of toddlers, right? A lot of toddlers because for the first time they're expressing a whole lot of stuff that's inside of them. What they think, what they feel, what they.

[00:05:33] is all coming to the surface and they don't have the tools to express it. Well. They don't know how to be diplomatic. They don't even know how to really use words to ask for things yet. Mm-hmm. their languages and keeping up with their ability to interact with the world. And so we call them terrible twos, we call them.

[00:05:50] We refer to their emotional reac reactivity as a tantrum instead of, you know, recognizing it as this is, you know, A [00:06:00] moment of frustration that is, has gotten out of control. So I think letting children go through the developmental norms without labeling them and just saying, this is the way they are now, they're going to be different later.

[00:06:13] You know, I'm not gonna be having an 18 year old who has these kind of tantrums that my two year old is having. It's okay. Yeah. And they hear that be present for

[00:06:19] Natalie: them. Right, right. I can only imagine. Now hearing that as a younger child, at any age, you start to tell yourself that's what you.

[00:06:29] Dr. L Carol Scott: And maybe that's, and maybe that's the next one, is that we assume that because they're young and they can't talk, they don't understand what we're saying, but they do.

[00:06:37] Mm-hmm. Receptive language, the ability to understand language way, outpaces the ability to express in language. And so children understand what we're saying about them a long time before we maybe think. . Hmm. Okay. Let's jump

[00:06:52] Natalie: to the next stage. So you, you're saying that that zero to seven age is critical for self-awareness, zero to three, [00:07:00] most important than zero to seven, a different stage.

[00:07:02] Is that what I'm hearing?

[00:07:03] Dr. L Carol Scott: I think of it in kind of three steps. So from birth to three children wire, 85% of their brain, their brain is wired mostly around the social interactions that they. . Then from three to five, they wire another 10% of their brain, and that's mostly around kind of school stuff, cognitive labeling, shapes, colors, numbers, that kind of thing.

[00:07:23] And then by five, the brain is pretty totally wired and they kind of know who they are and they start practicing being who they are. They start practicing a personality from five to seven. So by the time they're. They're pretty solidly who they're going to be. It's a baseline. Now, lots of other events and experiences will shape that and you know, modify it over the years.

[00:07:46] But birth to seven is when kids figure out who they are, who other people are, and what it means to be in relationship with other people. . So

[00:07:57] Natalie: what about for parents?

[00:07:59] I want, I [00:08:00] wanna talk about kids after the age of seven coming out of difficult situations or becoming self-aware if they are not already.

[00:08:07] And then I wanna talk about adults in a minute when maybe you had a hard childhood or you're still as an adult trying to become more self-aware. So we know those ages are critical, but I think a lot of people listening. They might be past that, they might say, I think I messed that up. So for the, you know, we, we mess a lot of things up, but it doesn't mean that we can't fix things.

[00:08:29] So let, let's go past age seven for parents and then we'll talk about adults.

[00:08:34] Dr. L Carol Scott: So the really good news is twofold. One, the brain is very plastic. We, we know that neuroplasticity is a really important feature of the brain, and so even people who have traumatic brain injuries from accidents can rewire their brain or from a stroke, they can rewire their brain to do things that they used to be able to do with a different part of their brain.

[00:08:53] So we're not stuck with what we grew up with from birth to seven. That's, that's one good piece. . [00:09:00] And the other is that you can start at any age. So doing what you could have done if you'd known better from birth to three. Mm-hmm. , starting that at eight is not harmful. It's helpful. Right. And so what we need, we wanna know is that at any point for any of us, recovery from whatever came before is a possibility.

[00:09:21] And the second really big important part of this is to know that no matter how much bad stuff. There is often good stuff that can balance it out. So we don't necessarily have to feel like we completely messed up a child because we weren't supporting the success strategies that they developed from birth to seven.

[00:09:41] As long as we recognize that, you know, there were other good things happening, you don't have to be perfect a hundred percent of the time. If you're good enough, most of the time it'll be. .

[00:09:52] Natalie: So what are some things we can do for our kids? Say our teenagers who might be struggling with friendships in [00:10:00] school and self-identity and awareness.

[00:10:01] Give us some tips and ways we can, we can help strengthen that

[00:10:05] Dr. L Carol Scott: self-awareness. Great, great idea. So the self-aware success strategies that I coach people on as adults start with trust and independence, and those are strategies that are the natural strategies of the infinite. and what they're about is, first of all, trust is about getting your needs met, knowing what you need and getting your needs met.

[00:10:27] And so at any age you can start helping your teenager, your pre-teen, identify what is it that you need from other people. And these are social needs. Now, you know, when you're a baby, it's things like, feed me, change my diaper, put a blanket on me. Mm-hmm. . But when you are 12, 13, 15, 18, it's more. . I need people to like me for who I am to, to accept me for who I am.

[00:10:50] I need people who listen to me and don't interrupt me, who care about what I'm saying. To be able to start identifying some of those needs that we have. Mm-hmm. , [00:11:00] and then recognizing who in our life already does that well, you know, and to maybe stop trying to rely on people to. Something they're not. So if we really recognize that, if I recognize that's 15, that I really need to have people in my life who like me just the way I am, then maybe it's time for me to stop fitting in with people who don't , right?

[00:11:24] Mm-hmm. , because they're not ever going to, and so maybe I need to turn my attention to the people who already like me the way that I am.



[00:11:59] [00:12:00]

[00:12:03] Dr. L Carol Scott: The second strategy that I call independence, which goes with that toddler who's a little wild. that adds what I think, what I feel and what I want to, what I need. So the infant is all about what I need.

[00:12:16] The toddler is about what I think, feel, and want. And so we also can, with older children, start asking them and helping them to focus in on what are you thinking right now? What are, what are the thoughts in your head? What are you, you know, what's going on up there? What is it that you're feeling in your body?

[00:12:32] Get them focused on their body where emotions. . We tend to, magnetize, I think is a good word for it. Our emotions and talk about them as if they happen in our brains, but they don't. They start in our bodies, so, mm-hmm. . When you're upset, when you're angry, when you're sad, you first feel the signs of that in your digestive system, in your heart rate, in your respiration, in your suddenly dry mouth or your suddenly wet palms.

[00:12:59] [00:13:00] And so to help kids tune into their bodies, tools like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, stretching, things that drop you out of your brain and into your body. Mm-hmm. . Those are all really helpful no matter how old your child is.

[00:13:12] Natalie: Yeah. So what I'm hearing is that as an adult, these are strategies we can use.

[00:13:19] Yes. The key would, as a parent, I'm thinking two different things. . I have a 13 year old. So middle school, you're, you're, you question everything. Right. , and they question everything. Yeah. So I'm thinking like with my middle schooler, like using the strategies that you are telling the adults can use, asking those questions and getting them tuned in uh, with their body first.

[00:13:41] Mm-hmm. so they can start identifying some of

[00:13:44] Dr. L Carol Scott: these things. Yes. And you know, sort of the, the wonderful parallel to know is that the, preschool years three to. are called the first adolescence. Mm-hmm. . And so really you're doing at 13, 14, 15, another [00:14:00] version of three, four, and five, like on steroids, because it's still all about finding out what is it?

[00:14:05] I think, what is it I feel, what is it I want? Mm-hmm. and experimenting, you know, with everything and feeling pretty fearless about everyth. , but the things that they can do at 13, 14, and 15 are like a lot more scary than what they can do at three, four, and five. Right. So true.

[00:14:21] Natalie: Yeah. Yes. Well it's, it's interesting because I think we hear self-awareness and we think.

[00:14:27] who am I? What do I believe in? Like, very, very surfacey. Mm-hmm. . But when I hear your statements and when I first read about you, you say self-awareness is the key to success. Yes. I mean, that's a, very big thing to be successful, all because of self-awareness. Explain that to

[00:14:45] Dr. L Carol Scott: me a little bit more.

[00:14:46] And so I think it, it begins with how do you define success? Mm-hmm. . So I don't define success as being about job title and. I define success as comfort in your life, as feeling connected to other [00:15:00] people, as pursuing the dreams that you have. So let me introduce you to the third success strategy of the three-year-old, which I call faith.

[00:15:08] Faith in the ability to do whatever you dream big dreams, imagining all the things. I can grow up to be a unicorn when I'm three, right? Mm-hmm. . So believing in yourself and believing in your abilities. to achieve all the things that you can see for yourself. Well, that's gonna be important to your success.

[00:15:29] And so if you know how you interact with other people, you know what you need from them, you know what you think, what you feel, and what you want in any given moment, and you believe in yourself. That's kind of the heart of success for me right there. Mm-hmm. . And so it's really all about knowing what is it that I want from life and finding ways to do.

[00:15:49] I'm often reminded when I talk about this of one of my advisors when I was in graduate school, she had six children and they were all wildly different from each other. And she had a daughter who was [00:16:00] a server in a restaurant, a daughter who was a psychologist, you know, did therapy. And she had a son who was a busker.

[00:16:06] He juggled on street corners for a living. She was equally proud of their. because they all were doing exactly what they wanted to do. Mm-hmm. , and I think that's the key, is if we think that the only success there is is making good grades and growing up to have a, you know, six figure income with a big job title, then a lot of the things that children are interested in are going to be seen by them as unattractive rather than as success.

[00:16:33] Natalie: Yeah. Or someone else's success. Yeah. I made my parents happy or someone else happy versus really. Proud and happy for yourself. Well,

[00:16:43] Dr. L Carol Scott: that goes back to what I said. These are individual, unique beings. We have to see them for who they are. They're here for a reason. That's, that's my spiritual perspective.

[00:16:51] Every child born is here for a reason and to fulfill an important role. Mm-hmm. So I don't want to derail the role that they're supposed to [00:17:00] take and the direction they're, they're here to take in their life by telling them to be like, .

[00:17:05] Yeah.

[00:17:05] Natalie: what do you think of today's generation versus you know, when we grew up are, are, do we have, obviously we have other challenges.

[00:17:14] Technology is a challenge. Mm-hmm. uh, Pressures in our world a challenge. But is it harder to find self-awareness today versus what say we grew up with?

[00:17:24] Dr. L Carol Scott: You know, I think it is because the world is very different. Childhood is not different. I will quote a colleague of mine who says, children are the same.

[00:17:33] Childhood is has changed, but children are the same. And so the experience of the trajectory, the, the sort of known developmental path, which is what I base the success strategies on, if known developmental milestones throughout those first seven years. that hasn't changed, but the environment in which it occurs has changed dramatically.

[00:17:54] Mm-hmm. . So when I was a child, and I'm considerably older than you are Natalie when I was a child we [00:18:00] didn't even have television in our home for a number of years. And then when we did, it was something that was like a special thing. We all gathered around the set and watched this one show on Sunday night.

[00:18:11] one show on Thursday night, but we didn't have it on all the time. Well, now children are growing up with iPads and iPhones in their hands and, you know, getting media and technology into their brains probably way earlier than they should in many cases. Mm-hmm. , because of the fact that the brain is being wired and a three-year-old can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy yet.

[00:18:33] So everything that they see recorded on television, on any feed that they watch to them is. They believe everything they see could really happen. And you know, those things are highly edited and made to look like it's something that isn't completely impossible and people Photoshop their images, you know?

[00:18:52] So I think we have to be pretty careful about our decisions about letting children be exposed to media too [00:19:00] young. But also just to know the developmental milestones and the trajectory of development is what it. No matter what environment it happens in.

[00:19:10] Natalie: Yeah, I see. And, and I teach in a high school now and uh, doing education news and health news for so many years.

[00:19:19] I see a, a lot of kids who are so focused on technology and I, I face the battle all the time with, as a, the mom of a 13 year old boy and to in college, but especially that 13 year old age. But I see that they're not exploring with their minds as. and maybe learning who they are because it's so easy to just sit and let the world come at them.

[00:19:43] Yeah. With technology, I think that's, and it just kind of feeds that and, you know, the dopamine, whatever that is, it's like, it's feeding me so they don't have to go find who they are and what interests they have in so many things. Right. Do you see that too?

[00:19:56] I

[00:19:56] Dr. L Carol Scott: do. And you know, the technology can be a huge gift.

[00:19:59] You know, I, [00:20:00] I was in a class last night where somebody brought. . You know, what does that word really mean? And I'm like, I'm gonna look it up on my phone. I pulled it up with the definition of, you know, Sure. And it was right there. Absolutely. Really quick. Mm-hmm. . And that's a marvelous use of the technology to answer our questions, to seek more information, to look for examples, to reach beyond what we know and get more resources.

[00:20:21] That's, that's a rich resource. Mm-hmm. . But to use it as a way to fill our time. or, and I think the real danger is just believing everything you see, everything you read. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And so I think a big role for parents has become helping kids learn to be critical thinkers, learn to look at what they're consuming with a critical eye to, is this real?

[00:20:45] Could that really be that? . Yeah, that's a

[00:20:48] Natalie: great point. And for us too, we, in some way, we don't wanna lose that critical thinking that perhaps we were fortunate enough to grow up with a little bit more Yeah. Than today's kids. Yeah. Well I [00:21:00] learned so much and I, I appreciate this concept of self-awareness as an adult.

[00:21:04] For my kids, for everyone and really knowing who you are and what's important to you. But I want people to learn a little bit more about you uh, how they can continue to learn from you and where they can find you.

[00:21:17] Dr. L Carol Scott: Okay, great. Well, my website is l carol The l at the beginning is important. And I would like to offer everyone a little book at, I have a little 29 pages cover to.

[00:21:29] PDF to send you that identifies the seven self-aware success strategies. Talks a little bit about how they develop in early childhood and asks some questions to let you sort of assess for yourself. Do I have these things? Do I have these success strategies in my relationships? It's called Becoming Yourself.

[00:21:47] And if you wanna send me an email at Carol L. Carroll, I will return it to you as an.

[00:21:54] Natalie: Fantastic. Well, I know you're on social media as well. Mm-hmm. can find you there [00:22:00] and thank you so much for the information for helping us learn and most of all, letting us know that it's never too late to learn who we are and to

[00:22:07] Dr. L Carol Scott: continue to grow.

[00:22:08] That's right. Thank you, Natalie. I really enjoyed being with you.

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