Dr. Ellen Braaten is a child psychologist, writer, and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. 

She is the author of the bestseller Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up and her newest book is called Bright Kids Who Couldn’t Care Less: How to Rekindle Your Child’s Motivation.

Dr. Braaten is widely recognized as an expert in the field of pediatric neuropsychological and psychological assessment, particularly in the areas of assessing learning disabilities and attentional disorders.

459: Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up

Dr. Ellen Braaten

Is your child smart, but not very motivated?

Do you have trouble getting them to do well in school or work hard on the field?

In this episode, I talk to Dr. Ellen Braaten, child psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School about how to motivate kids—and you may be very surprised by her answers!

Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up - Dr. Ellen Braaten [459]

Read the Transcript 🡮

*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Ellen Braaten: I think that's what's different now, is I don't see kids finishing school so that they can go out and play, for example. It's sort of like, homework is done in between all these other activities, and there's not a whole lot of time for kids to just sort of, Oh great, I'm finished with this, now I can go do what I want to do.

[00:00:26] Hunter: You're listening to the Mindful Parenting Podcast, episode number 459. Today we're talking about bright kids who can't keep up with Dr. Ellen Bratton.

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting Podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. At Mindful Parenting, we know that you cannot give what you do not have, and when you have calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, Hunter Clarkfields. I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children.

I've been practicing mindfulness for over 25 years, I'm the creator of the Mindful Parenting course, and I'm the author of the international bestseller, Raising Good Humans, and now, Raising Good Humans Every Day, 50 Simple Ways to Rest, Pause, Stay Present and Connect with Your Kids. Hey, welcome back to the Mindful Parenting Podcast.

I'm so glad you're here. If you've ever gotten any value from this podcast, please, it would be such a great help if you could just tell one friend about it today. You can make a great big difference by this one act, and I hugely, hugely appreciate it. And in just a moment, we're going to be sitting down.

With Dr. Ellen Bratton, a child psychology writer, associate professor at Harvard Medical School. She's the author of the bestseller Bright Kids Who Can't Keep Up, and her newest book is called Bright Kids Who Couldn't Care Less. How to Rekindle Your Child's Motivation. Dr. Bratton is widely recognized as an expert in the field of pediatric neuropsychological and psychological assessment, particularly in the areas of assessing learning disabilities and attention disorders.

So we're going to talk about this, like, do you have one of those kids who's really smart but not very motivated? Maybe you have trouble getting them to do well in school or work hard in wherever they are, right? So, in this episode, I talked to Dr. Bratton about how to motivate kids. And so, this is, this is incredibly helpful for you if you have older kids or if you have little kids.

We're going to unlock the secrets of motivation, and I think you might be kind of surprised by some of her answers. This is a, this was a great conversation I had with Dr. Bratton, so let's dive right into it. Join me at the table as I talk to Dr. Ellen Bratton. Ellen,

thank you so much for coming on the Mindful Parenting podcast. I'm very happy to be here. I'm excited to talk to you too. And you've done so much. You, you study, have studied kids in so many different ways. I just, before we kind of talk about kids and motivation and all those things, I'm just a little curious about you.

How did you get interested in this? And maybe is it, is it, Does that have anything to do with how you grew up?

[00:03:30] Ellen Braaten: Oh, what a great question. I'm never asked that question. So yes, I actually have a brother with learning differences. He has Down syndrome and I became interested in special education as a, uh, as an undergrad in school, was a special ed teacher for seven years and then went back to school to be a clinical psychologist.

And I'm still very interested in sort of like the development of learning disabilities, learning differences, attention. And that kind of brings us to motivation. One of the things that I really spent the last decade researching is processing speed, how quickly kids can process information in the fast paced world that we live.

And this book sort of comes out of that. Like, okay, so we've identified these kids. Now, what do we do to keep them motivated?

[00:04:14] Hunter: Hmm. Oh, wow. Okay, cool. I mean, so was your brother, was he your older brother or your younger brother? 

[00:04:20] Ellen Braaten: My younger brother.

[00:04:21] Hunter: Was it hard? I mean, growing up, I mean, were you, I imagine there might've been a time as a little kid that you were maybe disappointed if he didn't play with you in the way that you had hoped or something like that.

[00:04:31] Ellen Braaten: You know what? I was, I was 11 when he was born and it was just at the age where, you know, I think it was different too that you just sort of accepted things a little bit more. I also had a mom who was very active in finding the right kind of services for him. This was, I'm, I'm fairly old. So this is at sort of the beginning of the time when kids had legal rights where, where, you know, education for all was a civil right.

And so he, but you know, my mother fought for an IP, and all of those sorts of things. He's sort of that first generation of kids to come through, um, and to get the right kind of services. He's doing great, lives independently. And for, we treat him, you know, if you saw the rest of my family, I've, Um, six kids in the family, we all treat, he's the baby of the family.

We treat him exactly the same as we treat each other, which is, which is fairly sarcastically and, uh, with a lot of, with a lot of, you know, truth and we're, we're, we're very fun loving, but also we treat him exactly the same. So I don't, I don't really remember. I remember feeling as a kid very much that I, I wanted to.

Protect him. But I don't really remember as a sibling feeling that much disappointment with him. Kind of interestingly.

[00:05:44] Hunter: That's cool. That's cool. I love that you guys have this image and you know, you and all your brothers and sisters like ribbing him too. That's like great. That's much.

[00:05:53] Ellen Braaten: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, sometimes people are at it.

We're all together for For a holiday or something, he might be like, boy, you're really tough on him. And it's like, oh, we don't, we don't, we just don't even think of him treating him any differently, nor does he think of treating us any differently either. So it works both ways. He's, he's great though.

[00:06:12] Hunter: Yeah.

All right. Great. Well, um, yeah, so I'm excited to talk about the idea of motivation, and of course your new book is called Bright Kids Who Can't Keep Up. And I've been like looking into it, and it's really interesting, and I was checking out like as I was kind of preparing for our conversation, this, you know, interview you did with Boston Globe, and you said there, which I think is so interesting, um, I think in prior generations, we just knew that school was going to be hard.

In between, you'll find areas of pleasure, but now it's sort of the opposite. So I'm hoping maybe we could start off by you explaining that, like, what did you mean by that?

[00:06:51] Ellen Braaten: Well, you know, it's kind of like what we were just talking about a minute ago. There was sort of this idea that life was not sort of filled with easy things and And things that we, goals that were lofty and almost beyond what we were capable of doing, sort of like life was sort of filled with lots of chores, school was expected to be hard, not necessarily something where we found our bliss, but something where we were expected to learn different things and perform in a certain way.

And I don't mean perform, I mean, I mean, like just do the bare minimum, actually. I think it was different than two because a C was okay, a B was fine. Now it, that's not sort of the case. And so I think it was, yeah, it was different in that way that the, the expectations and the amount of focus on children's performance was just less.

And so we were kind of free to just sort of, you know, we have to do the things we need to do so that we can get on and do the things that we want to do. And I think that's what's different now, is I don't see kids finishing school so that they can go out and play, for example, or finishing their homework so they can go on to do something.

It's sort of like homework is done in between All these other activities, and there's not a whole lot of time for kids to just sort of, Oh, great. I'm finished with this. Now I can go do what I want to do. So it's partly a time issue. It's partly a change in how we view what we expect of kids.

[00:08:25] Hunter: Yeah. I mean, I can see the expectations are, have changed enormously.

There, there used to be this expectation that there'd be I guess it's like, in a way, there was this expectation there'd be a class of people who were, like, working class people, like, you get the B and the C. And then at one point they wanted every, they want every change to, like, everybody wanting to go to college and kind of be kind of knowledge workers, I guess.

This is kind of like a piece in that shift of, like, shifting towards, like, we all have to be outstanding.

[00:08:56] Ellen Braaten: Absolutely. You hit on the thing that I think, if I had to say There are lots of reasons why kids are feeling unmotivated these days, you know, partly it's post pandemic, but I was seeing this before, which is why I wrote, you know, I started writing the book before the pandemic.

What you bring up is, is exactly correct, that, um, there, there's this idea that every single kid has to go to college and a really good college. And 15 years ago, if I was working with a child who had a learning difference, I would have done anything to get them into college and get them the right supports.

What I found over the course of my career is that a lot of kids don't really want to go to college, need to go to college necessarily for the kind of job that they want. And they are on this path because there's not another path forward. That we have this sort of ideal about what You know what a successful adult is, and It doesn't involve for many of us as, as parents, it doesn't necessarily involve our child working, you know, as an electrician or in the restaurant industry or something like that.

And I see a lot of kids showing that they're unmotivated because they're like, I don't like the path ahead of me. You know, a 15 year old who's thinking, I don't love school now. And you're asking me to do another four years of school after I'm done with this route. You know, part of school. And I'm just going to show you that I don't want to do this by just not doing any of it.

[00:10:33] Hunter: I mean, that to me, that makes a ton of sense. Like we talk a lot about. Intrinsic motivation here versus an extrinsic motivation. And I'm, you know, I'm, uh, a founding member of the, uh, the first public charter Montessori school here in the state of Delaware. So I really believe in like following the child and like having the child's learning, you know, not be crushed by the traditional system and like seeing that intrinsic motivation and that curiosity and that desire to learn.

And so I can imagine if you're just in this system where you're just like expected to always expect it and you, you're not interested in it, like, of course you're not going to be motivated,

[00:11:17] Ellen Braaten: I guess. Right. No, totally. And the way kids show it is by not turning in their homework, by not showing up to class on time, by just not coming out of their room.

They, they show us in lots of different ways that they don't love the fact that they are on this path. It really is this press for college. And part of the problem is that we don't ask kids what they want. We just assume in our society right now that every child will go to college. And I've worked with families where I've had parents say to me, what will I say to the other parents if he doesn't Go to college.

What will my child say? And this is not just an upper class problem. It really, these sorts, this kind of thinking trickles down to all areas of society. That there's this idea there is this one way towards adulthood. And we need to start to get out of that and start to talk about what kids want and what, what intrinsically motivates them.

[00:12:21] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

Oh, wow. That's really interesting. You know, we don't ask kids what they want to talk about, not. involving kids in the solution. I mean, that's very interesting because it's very much like, like I teach mindful parenting and one of the things I teach is like, let's involve kids in the solution, right? And then they're motivated to implement whatever changes are motivated and they're not so interested in implementing the changes that are given to them top down by somebody else.

And this has so many parallels to what you're saying. Um, Can I quote you again? I love this. Definitely. But he, so you also said in that article, which I think is so interesting. Um, Motivated People Are Often Busy, and I think this busyness is a big piece of this. Motivated people are often busy, but that busyness does not make someone motivated.

Did you mean, what do you mean by that?

[00:13:19] Ellen Braaten: Well, so when, when we are motivated and we know what we want to do, oftentimes we are doing a lot of that. Whatever it is that makes us happy and keeps us motivated. On the other hand, though, that doesn't, that wasn't the cause. That's the outcome of feeling motivated, not cause for motivation.

So what parents often do when they have a child who's unmotivated, just schedule them for more things. They just put more things in their calendar, thinking that they're going to find something or by keeping them busy, they're going to be motivated when actually it's the opposite. Yes, motivated people are often busy, but they're also often kind of spinning their wheels too.

They're oftentimes thinking about, what do I want to do for the next step of my life? Or where do I want to go? What's making me happy? They reassess their busyness too. We think about, oh gosh, I've been so busy. Uh, I want to take this off my plate or do more of this. And so that's all a necessary part of motivation, but it's the outcome.

It's not the reason for the motivation.

[00:14:25] Hunter: Okay. So, yeah, so we want our kids to be busy, but we want them to be Part of it, a driver, uh, maybe of this busyness. So I'm, I'm thinking like, um, adolescence plus, you know, like when kids are smaller, kids need, I mean, from my perspective, like kids need a lot more free time.

And I'm wondering if that's, you know, part of this is that we're. We're driven by this, like, I want my kids to do well, I want them to do all these things, I want them to keep up with everybody, so we're filling all that time when they're, you know, young, like this pre adolescence time with too much, so they don't actually get to know what are the things that, that drive them and motivate them or make them curious about life.

[00:15:15] Ellen Braaten: That's absolutely true. We really can't just Figure out, like sort of spin our wheels and figure out what we love if we don't have time to do it. You know, think about it, it, you know, the creative process really requires time to do nothing. It's not like writers or painters or, or anyone else who's Thinking of something from the ground up, they don't do that by fitting it in around their schedule.

They're able to create because they have time to think. And a lot of kids don't have that kind of time. And parents are nervous. We don't want to be the only one left out. We don't want our child not being the only one who's not in the soccer league in town or not in the school play or whatever it is.

And some of that of course is really great. But we never ask our kids what makes them happy. And we don't have those sorts of discussions. Like, what do you really like doing? What do you really want to do? What's your desire about this current school year or this summer or whenever? We never really have those conversations.

And I've had parents say to me, I don't want to ask them what makes them happy because I might not like it. And that is an issue. I think they were afraid that in this case, I'm thinking of the child might say, well, I just like playing video games. That's all I want to do. And for the most part, kids really don't love playing video games.

I mean, they, they like it and they'll do it, but much like, you know, we don't love scrolling through Instagram, but we do it and it's fine. But none of us really love spending that much time doing those things. Sometimes we do it because we're stressed and overwhelmed. And sometimes we do it Especially kids do it because it's a way of being connected to others.

But then other times it's really just, I don't know what else to do. So I'm just going to get on and play video games for a while.

[00:17:02] Hunter: Okay. All right. So if we have a bright kid who's not caring less, a kid who's feeling unmotivated, I'm hearing a bunch of different sort of reasons maybe for that. Like society expectations, society's expectations, kids are being too busy.

Parents are nervous and therefore maybe like. And not pushing our kids to be too busy. And also we're not even, we're not asking the kids, we're not involving them and not asking them what they want. Did I miss anything?

[00:17:31] Ellen Braaten: No, you're right. And I would say too, that there is this issue that kids these days have a lot of pressure, which But not enough responsibility, meaning that we give, we put a lot of pressure on them to get the right kind of grades, to be doing the right sort of things in the right kinds of activities, but we don't give them a lot of responsibility.

And kids, for the most part, love responsibility. They love, even if it's simply as being able to walk home from school independently or with their friends, being able to, you know, when I was a kid, you ask what's changed? That's a big part of what's changed is that we were responsible for getting ourselves home.

We were responsible for watching a younger sibling. We were responsible to get a job, to mow the neighbor's lawn, whatever it was. And we don't have, kids don't have time for those sorts of things now, but they love it. And even kids who have. Um, issues in school can be quite successful. An unmotivated, uh, 14 year old in school might be very motivated to have a job at the, you know, neighborhood, uh, coffee shop or something like that.

Because it's a job they can do, people are depending on them. They feel like an adult. So anytime we can push a child in that way, that's a real positive. But we tend to push them in the other way, which is academically or performance oriented.

[00:18:52] Hunter: Yeah, I could see that. My daughter, um, who's 16, she, um, she just went that we had a local bookstore open up again in Wilmington.

Yay! We're so happy! Shout out to Huxley and Hero. Um, and she was so excited about it and found out that someone we knew in the neighborhood worked there. And so she, like, called our friend and ended up, went to the bookstore, met the owner, brought herself a resume complete with, like, recommended books that she likes.

And now she's going to be working there part time through, so I'm so thrilled for her, but it was all her own doing. I did nothing except drive her to the bookstore.

[00:19:31] Ellen Braaten: Yeah. This is wonderful. I think it's the number one thing I, if I could change one thing about childhood in America right now, it, well, maybe two things.

One would be to get kids sleeping better, which is big, uh, but the other thing would be to have these sorts of jobs. The, we used to have this regular, everybody had a job when I was in high school. Now this is not the norm and she will learn more in this job than anyone else. at any other place, and she's going to be motivated to do the other sorts of things so that she can get to her job.

And so, you know, she sounds like a super motivated kid anyway, but I've seen other kids who are not on the outside motivated do the same sorts of things because it's about that independence and that responsibility that kids crave.

[00:20:18] Hunter: So I'm hearing that part of the answer in this is for us as parents to back off a bit, like, and to, to, to maybe not pressure so much academically, not pressure them to be super busy, maybe when they're too young and things like that, a little bit, a little bit less pressure from us and a little bit more curiosity from us.

I'm seeing some of that, but what I'm can imagine if I'm listening to this and I have an unmotivated like nine year old, for instance, who's not doing well at school, doesn't want to do their homework and Just feeling frustrated because you feel like, well, what should I do? I don't, you know, am I just supposed to not do things?

Like, what am I supposed to do about this? How am I supposed to talk to my kid about this?

[00:21:07] Ellen Braaten: It's a great question. It's, it's hard too because I think it's the sort of thing that you've got to think about as an ongoing discussion, not only a one time event and the sorts of things that you want to think about.

First of all, you've got to know the child you have and not the child you wish you had. Meaning that you want to make sure you know your child's strengths and weaknesses and where you're pushing them is in the area that they're capable of doing and that you're not sort of mixing up your own wishes, unfulfilled desires into your child.

It's just natural. We all do it. We just have to be aware of it. So that's one thing. The other thing you want to do with a nine year old is you want to do a lot of talking about what gives them pleasure. What are the sorts of goals and hopes they have? What are the sorts of things that are missing in their life?

If they had a perfect day, what would it look like? Those sorts of open ended kinds of questions help move this discussion in that direction. And listening to them and, and hearing about what gives them pleasure, or just watching, sometimes kids don't even know. You've got to then put people on, you know, give them the words for that.

Well, when I see you hang out with this friend or when I see you doing this, you seem really happy. It helps them connect the event with the emotion that you're seeing in them. Another way of connecting with that is to be, have sort of a practice in your family of gratitude. That we tend to be grateful for the things that make us happy.

So having a regular Gratitude practice, whether it's at the end of the day saying one thing you're thankful for at the end of the week or writing something on a card and dropping it in a jar and looking at it at the end of the week. Things like that make us much more aware of our own pleasures. And then that helps keep us motivated.

And you know, we're motivated when we're like grateful for the people in our lives, for example, to keep them happy. So all of those things can be motivators for us.

[00:23:10] Hunter: Well, it's interesting that the question about like what gives them pleasure, you know, what are their goals and things like that. And I imagine part of some of this could, you know, it, it kind of points to this idea of also like, what are we modeling?

Are we modeling just like get everything done, get the things done and do we have moments of pleasure in our life? Are we taking, are we showing them that we. You know, that it's important and valuable for us to have things that are just enjoyable in our life. Like, there's so many moms in particular. Put all their kids needs first and think that's going to be best for them, but then maybe are not modeling this.

Like I know my mom, she, uh, we, you know, we were grew up lower middle class, you know, we didn't have a ton of money. She was a nurse. My dad's an artist and she took writing lessons. for herself. And that's not like it's an expensive thing, but she went and rode horses and I hung out there. Dear listener, sorry.

I know you've heard me say that before, but like, it was such a great example of like, this was not, it was not questioned. It was just something she did because it gave her this enormous pleasure. And I think that was such a great gift to me, for me to be able to see that.

[00:24:30] Ellen Braaten: Oh my gosh, that's huge. And that is something that I tell parents.

And even when I'm talking to teachers about this too, we've got to model that. We've got to show them that life is filled with that. And you're right, mothers, we're just so often, it's our default is to make sure that our kids are getting what they need and not that we're getting what we need. But you're right, we have to find out those aspects of our life.

That still bring us pleasure and model that for our kids. Absolutely. I couldn't have said it better myself. And I think that other places in the world do a better job of that. I talk about in the book a little scene. I did a visiting professorship in Prague a few years ago. And I was just surprised that when I would go to family's homes for my colleagues houses for dinner, and they would have kids.

And we would see children, you know, we'd meet them and greet them. And then they'd be off and doing their own thing. And the adults would be around having dinner, you know, drinking our wine and coffee and, and the kids were doing things that made them happy and we were doing things that Made us happy.

And when I came back to the U S after almost a year, I was so surprised at how much the conversation was all about kids and going to college. The first party I went to, I was just shocked. And so there was no modeling of adult behavior. The conversations were, of course, the people who, whose house I went to, they were having a party for like a 15 year old or something like that.

But so all the people there had, 15 year olds or 10 year olds or, you know, younger siblings. But I was shocked. We don't do a very good job of, uh, sort of taking care of ourselves, especially when it's, you know, not an, an single event. It's very different. 

[00:26:19] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

So it's interesting, like this idea of motivation is almost this paradoxical thing. It's like, rather than what we think it should be of like the sort of like, you know, like charioteer whipping the horse to go further, faster, better, stronger. It's actually like backing off. It's inviting and pleasure. It's being curious about what is motivating and what's driving our kids.

It's really listening. What have, but what about things like that kids have to do? So one of the things I tell parents and. Mindful Parenting is that your kid's homework is actually not your problem. It's your kid's problem. And there's a lot of pushback from this, right? You know, and people feel very strongly about this.

And, and, and I feel like there's, it's, well, if your kid's going to get a D in something, it's much better that they do it when they're under your roof and you can recover. And, you know, we can talk about study habits and things like that, rather than if you're making it happen all the way to college.

Right. But, but, How do parents help kids be motivated to do things that they don't want to do, that kids don't want to do, like?

[00:27:38] Ellen Braaten: So, I think of two things. First of all, definitely keep, keep speaking like this, because nobody wants to be the first parent to, you know, who lets their child have, you know, The, the natural consequences that you're talking about, I think it's really important.

And basically that's what, that's another difference when you were asking earlier, what's the difference between now and, and when I was raised? It's that if you didn't do well, you just suffered the consequences and nobody bailed you out. The other issue though, I forgot my train of thought though, I was so, I was so into the fact that you were fighting the good fight for this.

Um, oh, oh, I know. The, the other thing though you want to make sure that sometimes when kids aren't doing their homework, the problem is that they don't really have the tools. necessary to do it. So I find that, you know, sometimes homework is drudgery, but sometimes, you know, most kids will do the homework, even, even kids who are not that motivated, if the homework is appropriate, if they have the skills and if they have the ability to do it.

So if you've got a child who's really, really having difficulty doing the homework and getting it done, you want to evaluate what that is. You might want to start with them. and asking them, you know, why is this so hard for you? What is it? Sometimes it's just the matter of like handwriting is difficult for them or that the homework isn't appropriate.

And I should say too that the homework is not that great at giving the sorts of skills that we think it is. You know, homework should just be practicing. If homework is more than that, a free child doesn't have the ability to do it. You need to have conversations with, with the teacher and figure out, you What is the skill set?

And then if your child does have the ability to do it and just isn't doing it and all kids will test those limits, you're exactly right. Let them sort of live with the consequences and um, then process that with them when they have the consequence that they might not like so much.

[00:29:37] Hunter: And I imagine by process that you don't mean, say, What's wrong with you?

How could you bring home a D or a C or an F? I can't believe this happened. How would you encourage parents to talk to their kids about it if they end up suffering some of those natural consequences?

[00:29:57] Ellen Braaten: I would leave this very open ended and just really reflect what you're seeing. So, oh, it looks like you didn't do your homework or you didn't get this done.

Where did it go wrong? How would you have rather this, that this happened? What are the sorts of things that you might have needed to get this finished? And, you know, sometimes kids, especially, you know, middle school, high school might say, I don't care. Learn And then, I usually push back with that because most kids do care, and if they're saying they don't care, it sort of means, I don't know.

And so, just, but for most kids, they're going to reflect something to you, and I would reflect that back to them. You know, it doesn't usually feel good when, uh, I don't complete a task at work and you can then talk about your own experience with them. Like, you know, when I'm late with an assignment, I really don't feel great.

And when I find myself in that situation, it usually means I'm this, this, or this, you know? And so having a combination of you sort of giving them examples from your own life, as well as reflecting on what's going on for them and what you're observing, I think is good.

[00:31:12] Hunter: That's great. You know, you're talking about like being a coach, like kind of being a little bit removed.

This is like what you're describing really embodies, it's the epitome of like, there's a chapter in Raising Good Teams Every Day where it's like, love more, care less. Like where you, maybe if you have a bunch of feelings about this homework, you know, that are coming up for you, you process those separately and outside of that situation, maybe before you have that conversation, So that you can be a little more, a little more removed, a little more like I'm, you know, I'm not, my whole identity and feelings and everything are not wrapped up in this whole thing.

Like, just a little, I don't know, I'm not saying this very well, but you know what I mean?

[00:31:54] Ellen Braaten: Oh, you are though. I, I totally agree. It's that we are separate from them, that our, Our lives, our feelings are different from their experiences. And you know, when, when you, when you have a little baby, you're, you're one, you know, you're sort of like one in the same as, as you're parenting an infant.

And it's hard to make that transition. It's, it's a slow one to sort of say, you know, when you mess up, I'm here to listen, I'm here to support you, but it's, it's your situation that you have to figure out. And kind of think about it. It's not that we're friends as parents at all, we're still parents. We have the authority to, you know, help them.

There are certain limits that we need to instruct them on. But at times like this, it's sort of like, I see you really messed up and I'm, you know, it hurts me to see you in this situation, but what are you going to do about it? And that takes a certain amount of sort of meh, you know, just looking at it from a, from a different angle, which is so hard to do as a parent.

I think it's the hardest thing to do. And we also have this idea in our society that it's a one and done. I mean, you don't get in the right math class in eighth grade, it sets you up for not the right class in high school. Really life doesn't really work that way. It truly doesn't. But we have this idea that it does.

[00:33:20] Hunter: Yeah, I know. I, I've been thinking about it, like, cause my daughter is 16, you know, it's the whole college thing, and of course, people are talking about that, and I do kind of feel like, Oh, should I be worrying about this more? Should I be looking at deadlines and kind of doing some things like that more?

And then I check myself in that, Oh, you know, she doesn't go to college, like the year after she goes, she graduates high school. So she'll work for a year. And so if she wants to go the next year, she'll go the next year. It's not like colleges are going to go poof and disappear after that year. Like they'll still be there.

It's okay. You know, it's figureoutable.

[00:33:58] Ellen Braaten: That's a really good way to put it. Yes, the college is always there for them whenever they need it. And yeah, I think that's such a healthy attitude that you have because it, it sort of allows her to do what she needs to do. And I should say too, that I, my, Litmus test is always, is the child filling out the application themselves, the teenager not really filling it out themselves?

Are they asking about colleges? Are you dragging them along for visits? They're telling you something. They're telling you that they're not quite ready. And you can have the discussion about that. Like I see that you're not that excited. What's that about? It could be just anxiety. It could be a nervousness about the future.

It could be like, I don't really want to do this. I'm not ready yet. And so those kinds of discussions, and they need to happen even in sixth and seventh grades. We can't just wait till the middle of junior year when we've assumed all this time that our child is going to go to college and it's going to be a certain kind of college.

We can't just start to have those conversations in junior year.

[00:35:05] Hunter: Yeah, yeah, so we've got to wrap our heads around it too, like know who is this child in front of you, not like this story that you're making up about what, who they should be. And I love that because it's a very mindfulness based approach.

This is so awesome, Ellen. I think this is so beautiful and helpful. I know that you talk about a parenting app in your book. What is this app you talk about?

[00:35:28] Ellen Braaten: I do. So it's not a real app on a phone, but it just stands for aptitude, pleasure, and practice. So if you can kind of think of those three things in a Venn diagram and where we want our kids to be in the middle, we want them to be in the middle of that.

So we need to consider our child's aptitudes, what they're good at. These are all the things we've been talking about. Who is my child? What are they naturally good at doing? Um, we need to then look at what are the sorts of things that bring them pleasure. And those two things aren't always the same. You know, what we're good at doing aren't necessarily the things that give us pleasure.

Sometimes the things that give us pleasure are the things that are a little tough for us, but we want some combination of that. And then practices, what are the sorts of things your child does when they have time to just do whatever? What are the sorts of things you see your child do over and over again without you having to pester them?

And so we want to be, to be motivated. We need to be in the middle of that app. We need to be doing things that give us pleasure, that we tend to want to do anyway, given time, and that fit in with our strengths and who we naturally are. And strengths are more than just academic or intellectual strengths, but also our strengths as, as humans.

You know, are we this sort of person who is more humble or more, uh, pleasure seeking or more, you know, those sorts of things are important too.

[00:36:54] Hunter: And I imagine that, I mean, I love this aptitude, pleasure, and practice, we can probably very much kill some of this pleasure, right? We can kill some of the pleasure and therefore some of the motivation by bugging our kids to do the thing even that they love to do.

[00:37:10] Ellen Braaten: Totally. I see that happen all the time. Like a child who has aptitude for soccer, who has, um, you know, who, who likes it too, but the practice part has overwhelmed everything else. And it takes the joy out of something that they were motivated to do. Absolutely. Those things have to be in sync.

[00:37:29] Hunter: All right, parents, I'm picturing like a big, like, back up, back the truck up, sign back off with this.

We've got to let them, let them lead the way. This is so cool. Ellen, this has been such a pleasure to talk to you, I'm so excited, um, Dr. Ellen Broughton is the author of Bright Kids Who Care. You did the bestseller, Bright Kids Who Can't Keep Up, and then this book, which is called Bright Kids Who Couldn't Care Less, How to Rekindle Your Child's Motivation.

This has been a great pleasure. Where can people find out about you and are there, are there any final things that we should not forget?

[00:38:09] Ellen Braaten: Oh, I, I think we covered everything quite well. Usually I've had something in mind. This was, this was terrific. I think you could, I do have a website, EllenBrottenPhD. com.

And I do think everything you said is important. I mean, I think about, you know, I, I guess I would just reiterate, love the child you have, not necessarily the child you wish you had. And, um, that really, it just frees us all up to, you know, be who we are and be confident of who we are as a, as a parent. And also for kids to know that we respect who they are too.

[00:38:43] Hunter: Such a beautiful note to end on. Thank you so, so much for coming on the Mindful Parenting Podcast.

Thank you so much for listening. I think this is, uh, so was such a helpful conversation. I love that idea that. Motivated people are often busyness, but busyness does not make someone more motivated. So, so true. Uh, that downtime, it's so, so valuable. Um, hey, if you appreciate this episode, if you got something out of it and enjoyed it, share it with one friend today.

That would be amazing. That's all I got to say about that, and I'm just wishing you a great week. I hope that have sweet, sweet moments with your sweet children or child. And I'm going to be aiming for that too. I'm going to be looking for the sunshine in my life, and I hope you will find it in yours and the peace and the ease that we need to balance these full lives.

And, um, and I appreciate you. I appreciate you for being here. As a listener, I'm grateful that you're here. I'm glad that this podcast can nourish you, and I hope it does, um, because that means the world to me. So I get, I feel so incredibly grateful that you have no idea every day I get to do this work and have it impact people.

I mean, it's amazing. It feels so good. Um, so I hope it impacts you and I'm, I'm really, really happy if it does, and I'm wishing you all the best. Thank you, thank you so much for listening, and I will be back to talk to you again really, really soon. Namaste.

I'd say definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help you communicate better. And just, I'd say communicate better as a person, as a wife, as a spouse. It's been really a positive influence in our lives. So definitely do it. I'd say definitely do it.

It's so worth it. The money really is inconsequential when you get so much. You can benefit from being a better parent to your children and feeling like you're connecting more with them and not feeling like you're yelling all the time or you're like, why isn't this working? I would say definitely do it.

It's so, so worth it. It'll change you. No matter what age someone's child is, it's a great opportunity for personal growth and it's a great investment in someone's family. I'm very thankful I have this. You can continue in your old habits that aren't working, or Learn some new tools and gain some perspective to shift everything in your parenting.

Are you frustrated by parenting? Do you listen to the experts and try all the tips and strategies, but you're just not seeing the results that you want? Or are you lost as to where to start? Does it all seem so overwhelming with too much to learn? Are you yearning for community people who get it, who also don't want to threaten and punish to create cooperation?

Hi, I'm Hunter Clark Fields, and if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting Membership. You will be joining Hundreds of members who have discovered the path of mindful parenting and now have confidence and clarity in their parenting. This isn't just another parenting class.

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