Montessori Babies

Praising Babies: A Baby Development Conversation with Dr. Natasha Beck

April 29, 2021 Bianca A. Solorzano, M.Ed. Season 1 Episode 12
Montessori Babies
Praising Babies: A Baby Development Conversation with Dr. Natasha Beck
Show Notes Transcript

In Episode 12, we talk all about the developmentally beneficial approaches to "praise" within our Montessori Practice!  Episode 12 is an interview and conversation with the amazing Dr. Natasha Beck, otherwise known as Dr. Organic Mommy. This weeks episode is for Montessori beginners and experts alike! Dr. Beck and I have a wonderful conversation on...

  • What is Praise?
  • How our approach to praise affects our infants
  • The Montessori Approach to praise
  • Getting everyone in your child's world on the same page 
  • Dr. Organic Mommy 
  • And more!

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For everyone interested in seeing more of Dr. Beck's wonderful content on parenting and healthy living, her info is linked below.

Dr. Organic Mommy website:
Dr. Organic Mommy Instagram:

Dr. Beck's Instagram Post on Praise:

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Bianca A. Solorzano, M.Ed.
Baby Development & Montessori Consultant
And Your Baby Tour Guide

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Bianca: [00:00:07] Welcome to Baby Tour Guide’s: Montessori Babies podcast, I'm your host and Baby Tour Guide, Bianca Solorzano. And for the last decade, I have dedicated myself to helping parents, educators and caregivers optimize baby development through a Montessori lens. This podcast is all about evolving our Montessori practice to make our time with our sweet babies easier, relaxed and so much fun. Let's jump into it. 

Welcome to Episode 12 of our Montessori Babies podcast. This is such a special week. We have such an amazing guest. I was honored to have had the opportunity to interview Dr. Natasha Beck, otherwise known as Dr. Organic Mommy. Many of you probably know who she is. She is a very popular Instagram channel, but essentially she's a parenting expert, founder of Dr. Organic Mommy, which is an online resource focused on pregnancy, parenting and non-toxic living. She has over fifty thousand loyal and engaged followers who look to her for real world advice on all things child rearing. Dr. Beck holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, specializing in pediatric neuropsychology and a master's in public health, specializing in child and family health. She's also certified in leadership, education and neuro-developmental disabilities from Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. So she helps families live healthier lives and aims to help every family make healthy decisions. By drawing on her experience as a mother and parenting expert, she incorporates the use of a variety of techniques and approaches like Waldorf, REI and Montessori and, you know, all tied into cognitive behavioral and play therapy. One of the things that I was really excited to learn about, Dr. Beck’s, Dr. Organic Mommy platform is that all of her proceeds go directly to charity.

Bianca: [00:02:16] So not only does she have amazing content on our platform, but if you do decide to purchase something through her website or check out her online store, any of the money that she makes off of that will go straight to charity. So you will be contributing to something good as well. So in addition to her Instagram channel, Dr. Beck has been named one of the top 100 health and wellness influencers in 2020 by New Hope Network. She's also been featured in New York Metro, Kind Humans, bumpkins and more. She's been on a wide variety of podcasts. And when she's not working on her Dr. Organic Mommy platform, she's busy raising her three beautiful children and two four babies with her husband and serves on the boards of the UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, the Los Angeles Football Club Foundation, so LAFC and the Environmental Working Group. So needless to say, it was such a pleasure to have had the chance to to talk with Dr. Beck. She was gracious enough to come on our show and talk to us a little bit about what she does and also praise. She gave us some wonderful advice on how to really inspire and encourage lifelong learners from day one. So from working with, you know, our sweet babies and toddlers. Let's jump right on into the interview with Dr. Natasha Beck.

Bianca: [00:03:48] Welcome to Episode 12, everyone. Thank you so much, Dr. Beck for coming on our show. I'm so happy to have you here. All right. So I'm so glad to have found you. I absolutely love your content, your page and all the stuff that you promote. It's really, really lovely. So I was hoping you could tell our audience a bit about your platform, your Dr. Organic Mommy platform and what inspired you to create it.

Dr. Beck: [00:04:18] Sure. So what kind of started me to even just go through my education was because I was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, commonly known as Reading Disorder now. And so I wanted to provide opportunities for those who didn't have access to get evaluated. And so that's kind of how I started my career. And as far as starting the page, I found that there was just so much information out there. And today, you know, we don't have our village. Our village is missing. And so I think, you know, we're you know, it would be great if we had, like, our godparents and friends and cousins and aunts and uncles etc., helping to raise our children. But we don't have that. And so what I was hoping by starting this platform was to have a free, unbiased source of information and a place to educate people when they can pick and choose what works best for their family.

Bianca: [00:05:19] Sure, that's awesome. What brought you into the child aspect of it and working with children and all of that?

Dr. Beck: [00:05:29] I always knew from a young age I wanted to work with children and I always knew I wanted to be a mother, just very much connected with children. And I think they are just natural observers. And I think we learn so much from them. I'm constantly still learning from my own children and from the children I work with. And I love that. And it just it fuels me, you know.

Bianca: [00:05:55] Yeah, yeah. I couldn't agree more. So one of the things that I really love about your page is that, you know, you venture into healthy living and, you know, food and diet and how that affects your day to day life and how children are able to settle and explore and all of that. So can you talk a little bit about or tell me a story about kind of what got you into the diet and lifestyle piece of it?

Dr. Beck: [00:06:25] So when I was working at a county hospital, I found that children were coming in not just on the overweight, but even obese. And they were coming in with a multitude of diagnoses from ADHD to autism to various anxiety disorders to rest. When you were actually looking at the whole child, you weren't considering the school environment, the home environment. You were just looking at the office setting. You weren't looking at their lifestyle. And when in reality, if you've looked at a child who was coming in obese, you want to look at their diet because sleep apnea is often not taken into consideration. Misdiagnosed with ADHD, if you're not getting enough sleep, you can't pay attention. And so I started to look into that and see how much our food was impacting everything else in our day to day life, especially with children and the impact of pesticides, of toxins. And as I started to uncover more and more, I realized that there was so much information out there that was just not available or wasn't made people more aware of, rather. And so I wanted to start this page to teach people that, you know, no matter where you are in your journey, you can always learn and then do better. And don't worry about what the past was. I used to I grew up on junk food. I refined sugar like crazy and I made changes.

Bianca: [00:07:55] Hmm. That's awesome. It's so awesome. I love that you brought in the “We can always learn piece”. That's one of the things that I love about our community. And our podcast is that we just emphasize the forever learners type approach to to life in general, especially working with kids. So I've also really loved exploring your website. I saw that you have recipe suggestions and a lot of other parenting tips and advice. And so, yeah. So for our audience out there, I'll have everything linked below. One of the pieces that you had written really stuck out to me on your Instagram, actually, and that was your post about praise. And so I was hoping you could talk to our audience a little bit about, I guess starting with what praise even is what it looks like with infants and toddlers, and then the approach of how we can adjust our approach to help the child.

Dr. Beck: [00:08:54] We're excited about this topic and so passionate about it. I think praise I mean, you've got to look at ways that there's different types of there's external praise words. There's an external reinforcement like saying, good job, you've got your punishments, you got your reward charts. And there's so much in our culture in America, an America which people don't realize that we everywhere else in the world, they don't actually praise their children like we do. And I would bet you would be shocked if you actually took a journal and wrote down how many times not only you, but anybody else, any other adult is around your child, how often they get praise. You did a good job. Oh, you put on your show, you opened the door. Anything they people praise for and what they're doing to our children, you know? And so the important thing is when you overpraise, it actually weakens that intrinsic motivation. What's inside you? You want your child to be proud of themselves, to feel on their own that they did something. Because they're constantly looking for you, that's going to fizzle out. Those were the words they got their toy. What are they going to do next? All right, I'm done with that. I don't want to touch name. I don't want to I don't want to go to the bathroom anymore. If you're only going to give me a candy every time I go the bathroom, I'm over it near the time it doesn't work.

Dr. Beck: [00:10:26] And so I think that's what's really important. And there's so much behind praise. There's a difference between praising your child, because I know people are going to ask this, well, how do I reinforce the good behavior? What do I do? You want your child to own up to it and be different? There's a difference between praise and acknowledgement. I want to acknowledge but not praise. Simple, simple, not a smile on my head like is my favorite word. You don't say much. Children really know what you're feeling. They pick up on it. And when you just lay out the good jobs time, it doesn't feel genuine, right? They feel that and they get it. And so they become less motivated over time. And people don't realize that when you're overpraising, you're causing a child to actually be less helpful, to be less of a of a contributor to your family because they feel the need to. All right. And the other thing that does your constant praising and you have multiple children, it causes a lot of competition between them because who's going to get mom and Dad's attention? Depending on your family constellation? I'm going to fight for it or I'm going to then I want more of it. And it causes competition. Kids don't work together.

Bianca: [00:11:57] Yeah. Yeah. You know, that's actually a really good piece to point out is the you know, when you're working with multiple children and you're praising one and another is doing something else. And, you know, that's that's a piece that I actually haven't spoken about yet. And that's amazing. Amazing, amazing. Really good point. One of the things that you mentioned is the intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. And I would love for you to talk more about that. That's a huge, huge topic in Montessori, you know, and so just kind of fostering that innate well to learn.

Dr. Beck: [00:12:32] Yeah, there's been lots of studies on this. How do you get kids or even adults to be intrinsically motivated by something? So the first thing I tell parents is to stop controlling your kids. There's this battle between who's got the control. I need to tell my kids what to do. And my kid wants to tell me what to do. Let's let go of that and work collaboratively. If you don't work collaboratively with your child, how do you expect them to work collaboratively with anybody else? Yours. So I start with that. When? So your building your connection with your family, being a part of your family is really important. So, you know, I'm going to give you an example. Making pancakes in the morning, my kids parents seem to think, oh, I don't want them to help me because they're not going to crack the egg. Right, or they're going to get the snow and the bowl or they're going to mess up or they're going to spill the flour everywhere, you know, buckwheat flour, my favorites going to throw that in there any time I can throw in some help. You have to let go of that and start because your little ones, they want to help. They are excited and it makes them excited. But when you take away that excitement, when you say, no, you can't do this. No, no, no, you don't. Go do it. Go, go, go do something else. You're telling them, don't get part of this family. Don't help me. I don't need your help. I don't value you. You can't collaborate with me. Your message that they're hearing. And imagine how often you're saying that to them. Oh, you can't swoop in here because you're going to get the dust everywhere.

Dr. Beck: [00:14:20] You know, you don't need to help me. So involve them, but know that when they're young, it's going to take time. There's like that tree. I think it's like a training facility, like in soccer. You're just training it. Just practice. You're going to mess up. You're going to figure out how to work together. And then when you get to the real game, that's when you're older. That's when. All right. I know you've got this. And so I think you're building up to that. You're building up to that final end game. Yeah. I think that's what parents really have to work on, so like when you get back to making the pancakes story, recognize that your child will mess up, so have your expectations low. Mm hmm. So you want them to feel a sense of autonomy that they can do it, but also feel confident in something. So there's a balance like you don't want it to be too easy, but what if they just challenge you? So I know that can be difficult. But so let's start off with this. Just do the ball and have them crack the egg in the bowl without anything else. If they do mess up, it's not a big deal. You know, the egg shell gets in there. That's all right. Let them practice it. Let them see you do what you know. Don't correct them. And when they do make the pancakes, they don't pour it just right where it's a nice circle. That's all right. Let them make their little weird line. You just continue doing what you do or what you're doing until you see the pancakes made. And eventually they will get there. They'll see because they're looking or observing you.

Bianca: [00:15:54] Yeah. Yeah. One of the things that I love about Montessori in general is just that we observe the child and we observe where their well drives them. Right? And so much of infancy and toddlerhood is them observing us, you know. And so what's so cool about involving them in their day to day experiences and activities is that they really get to do that. Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Beck: [00:16:25] So even was a little one.

Bianca: [00:16:27] They can one hundred percent. So one of the things do you have suggestions for parents as far as specific phrases that they can hold on to? Because, you know, especially with babies and toddlers, it's really hard when they take their first steps to not say good job, honey, you know, do you have suggestions?

Dr. Beck: [00:16:49] I think language is key. And I try to emphasize that on my page to provide sample scripts. For example, so within your child's ready and sitting up, you know, they're sitting up. You're going to sit there next to them, clean their toys, you're going to fold your clothes and let them put things in a basket. You know, you don't need a good job. You're putting things in the basket. Let go of that phrase and say just a simple thing or you're putting the balls in the basket. Just be that sportscaster. Just he's going to narrate what they're doing, you know, and then they can feel like they put the ball in the basket. Well, I did that and they can feel good inside. I often get asked, like when parents say, well, shouldn't I say you should be so proud of yourself? I actually don't like that saying because that's making an assumption. I don't know if the child's feeling proud that I don't want to project my own feeling of being proud onto my child. Let them feel proud. Let them acknowledge it. And you do that by signaling. Yeah, I, I see you. And there doesn't need to be so much, you know, parents and caregivers, they talk a lot, you know, and I get excited. I'm a talker, but I kind of slow back and take things in and figure out how much you're projecting your own feelings onto your child. Organize that.

Bianca: [00:18:19] Thank you. Yeah. Thank you. That's really, really helpful advice. Do you do you think you could give us examples of I guess one of the downsides to it is just that our audience can kind of see the other side of of praising or what it can look like down the line kind of thing

Dr. Beck: [00:18:35] Down the line when you're going to ask them “I need you to clean up after yourself” I mean, like, why if you're going to constantly tell me, like, good job for everything, OK, well, I don't get that good job. Am I over it? Like, I'm just tired of it. It's not genuine. You're just going to not be as helpful over time. They lose that, you know, it's like that constant high. Eventually, you know, it fizzles out like you don't get it anymore because over time it doesn't work. Right. You're not intrinsically motivated if you don't feel good about something. No one wants to do something. If you're even this is something an adult can relate to your job, you don't feel good about your job yourself and you look like you're doing a good job, like you're not going to continue wanting to do that, you know? And over time, if you don't, you know, if you don't, you're going to get the acknowledgement from your boss. The simple. Looks like you got that to me. You got that report on time. Right. You know, but you don't need that. You need it inside. Otherwise you're never going to stick with the job.

Bianca: [00:19:43] And it's the same thing with kids. You know, it dissipates over time. And you have to realize that your kids are capable, you know, and that this knowledge that you're constantly learning from your child, that they're learning from you, it's a two way street. You know, you learn from them and they learn from you. But if you don't allow that knowledge to take place, that is going to block your child from growing and walk your child and be helpful. So involve them when they're starting to walk. You know, you're walking. Yeah. You're old enough now to throw your diaper in the pail, you know, simple things like that, letting them know or when they want to help you. If you're thinking, OK, you know, my four year old wants to be in charge of the stove and there's safety issues, stay off the stove is really hot. Soon you'll be able to help me when you're a little bit older. But you might pull the plate for when I take the food out and I'll put it on the plate. So giving them something, they can do that just enough that they can do that, they can feel a sense of accomplishment.

Bianca: [00:20:51] Awesome. That's so amazing. And I love that it kind of isn't a redirection piece as well. You know, you're redirecting them to something that's within their developmental range of appropriateness. And that's so amazing. One of the things that I really, really loved about the post that you put on Prey's was you offered a suggestion to parents who say they have communities of people who are praising their children around them. You had a really lovely three step process. And I would love it if you would talk about that.

Dr. Beck: [00:21:27] I think the first thing is to always talk to the people that are around your kids. Most often once in a while, you kind of let those things go. But talk to them and see what they think. Tell them about, you know, do you see that? How you get acknowledgement is different from praise and see if they have Byam, you know, and then you're going to explain it to them and let them understand, like, why it's so important, just how I'm doing today and explaining how you want your child to be intrinsically motivated. You want them to help you. You want them to be a contributing member of the family and work collaboratively with everyone. And a lot of the time, I'll give an example. My mother in law, who I love and adore, she's trying to understand this right now. And she's like, well, I don't get it because why can't I say good job, you know? And so I'm explaining to her what she can do instead, but she still needs to have that fine and understand. What happens when you do that, planning that when you get those rewards, you know, they fizzle out and they don't see anyone is important to actually get through? And that's important. Basically, sum up, you know, you start with your your intervention when you're talking to your in-laws or parents or other family members, and then you're helping them understand how to remove the phrase by giving them examples about acknowledgement, about the simple nod, you know, at least commenting on the effort. I open the door instead of saying good job. So giving them something else to do instead and then closing the loop by telling them that, hey, it's not always going to work, but this is something to think about that's important, especially if you're going to be around the kids so often.

Bianca: [00:23:22] Sure. Yeah. That's such helpful pieces of info. I feel like, you know, there's so many people in a child circle, you know, and so many of those people all love and want what's best for the child. And so it's just awesome that you're offering this tool to get everyone on the same page. And I will also have that post specifically linked below, because I found it just incredibly beautiful and helpful. So I'm sure all of you will to

Dr. Beck: [00:23:50] Be writing more about praise and actually giving sample scripts, because I think people get stuck on what to do. Well, how do you reinforce the good behavior? How do you not promote bad behavior? And I think people need to get rid of the good and bad concept, like just release that from your vocabulary, because it's so it can be shaming both ways. Like if you get a good job, it can actually be shaming. What does that mean? Other times I did, that wasn't a good job. And so kids think about that. So changing the language is so key.

Bianca: [00:24:25] I couldn't agree with you more and especially especially for the infancy and toddler head phases as they're unconscious learners. You know, one of the things that I like to say a lot on the show is that they're little scientists. Right. So everything that they're doing, even though to us it may be perceived as something they're getting into stuff or, you know, they're causing a ruckus, they're making a mess, you know, but to them, they're exploring, you know,

Dr. Beck: [00:24:53] So they're exploring their environment and taking in as much stimulation. That's natural. And they're pleasant for them. And that's what helps them grow.

Bianca: [00:25:04] Yeah, totally. Totally. Well, you know, thank you so much for coming on the show. I was wondering if you could offer our parents and caregivers and educators any last pieces of advice and general or in regards to praise as well, would be.

Dr. Beck: [00:25:20] Right. I think it's just slowing down. I think, you know, the silver lining or the gift of this pandemic that's brought a lot of us, not everyone, but that it taught us to slow down because if you slow down, you're actually leaving your child there. And kids need you to slow down when the world is speeding up. Take a moment and get back to your child's level where they're at and meet them when you're slowing down, observing more, paying attention more, and you actually getting your child to pay attention, they're learning more. So remember that two way street.

Bianca: [00:25:57] Yeah. Thank you so much for coming on our show. So lovely having you. I would love to have you back at some point. There's so many amazing topics that I've seen on your page and platforms. So, yeah, I love it. All right. Well, thank you again for coming on our show. Thank you to everyone for listening to Episode 12 of the Monastery Babies podcast. And we will catch you in the next episode.

Dr. Beck: [00:26:27] Bye bye.

Bianca: [00:26:29] So that was their interview with Dr. Beck. I want to thank everyone for tuning into this episode and a special special thanks to Dr. Beck for coming on the show. I linked her Instagram and website Downbelow. So if you guys are interested in checking out more of the content that she offers, which she offers them great content, definitely click those and check it out. And to finish off this episode, I thought we would end with a couple of Montessori or so this week. But that, I thought, really suited the praise conversation that Dr. Beck and I were talking about. The first is we must support as much as possible the child's desires for activity, not wait on him, but educate him to be independent. And then the second the environment itself will teach the child if every error he makes is manifest to him without the intervention of a parent or teacher who should remain a quiet observer of all that happens. So essentially, both of these focus on the child's inner will to learn, and that's what Montessori focuses on, so hard is just she observed that infants come with this natural inner will to learn and explore about their world. So the desire to implement Montessori ideas in infancy is to continue to foster that. And one way that we do that is through our language approach. And so I hope you found this, you know, these quotes, but the interview just so hurtful to you and to your Montessori practice, and that's about it. Thank you, everyone, again for tuning in. I am so grateful for, you know, quickly growing Montessori babies, podcast community and our Baby TourGuide community. I'm just so, so grateful for the wonderful parents and caregivers and educators that we have in our community. And like I have mentioned in previous podcast episodes, if you ever want to reach out and say I Love receiving emails from everyone. My email is, and that is it for this week. I will catch you in the next episode. Thanks. Hey, it's Bianca, your Baby Tour Guide here hopping back in to say thank you again for listening to this episode of Montessori babies, if you found this episode helpful and would like more information on over the and download my free Montessori guide to join our community and receive the latest on optimizing development through a Montessori lens. You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook @babytourguide. Also, if you found this episode helpful to your Montessori practice, I would absolutely love it if you would leave a review to help other parents and educators find our show. Thanks again for listening and I will catch you in the next episode. Bye!