Dr. Sally Goldberg: “That it is always okay to follow your heart”

…Parent education for every parent as soon as their baby is born and even before. There are eight stages from birth to age three, and there is information available about how to promote development during each of them by natural, fun and worthwhile parent-child interactions. As a part of my series about Big Ideas That […]

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…Parent education for every parent as soon as their baby is born and even before. There are eight stages from birth to age three, and there is information available about how to promote development during each of them by natural, fun and worthwhile parent-child interactions.

As a part of my series about Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years I had the pleasure of interviewing Sally Goldberg.

Sally Goldberg, Ph.D., professor of education, author, magazine writer, and the first parenting expert on FOX TV’s “Parent to Parent,” has changed her focus! Meet Dr. Sally now on “Parenting with Dr. Sally” for up-to-date parenting information and answers to many questions.

With seven out of eight parenting books behind her, Dr. Sally is now writing for children. Eight manuscripts are almost ready for publication. These range from board and toddler ones to those in the the four to eight-year-old age range.

Sally worked for many years as an instructor of early childhood education on the adjunct faculties of Nova Southeastern University, Barry University, and the University of Phoenix. Well-known for her tools and strategies for self-esteem development, she was a national conference presenter and a frequent guest on TV and radio. Sally, who grew up in While Plains, NY, has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from the University of Miami.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Cynthia!!! Oh what a surprise. After nine months of waiting and watching and wondering and preparing for the birth of the most perfect, gorgeous, bright and high-achieving baby in the whole world, along came Cynthia — perfect, gorgeous, bright and born with a developmental delay. What?!!! That was not in the plans. Not only would she not be the most high-achieving baby in the world, she was actually going to function on the lower end. “Oh no. Oh dear. Oh no. Oh … and many more! In reality there were all kinds of outbursts along the way including tears. It took many months to adjust to the new situation, but I finally did, and eventually the new focus became much more positive.

My love of teaching was a big factor, and my desire to create educational materials helped also. Combining the two, I developed a mission to find anything and everything possible that would help Cynthia. The first step was to read all there was to read about the subject. Next came buying all there was to buy. Eventually came making all there was to make. The goal became to get her from behind the starting line in every area to catching up and eventually moving ahead.

“Impossible, stop, you are wasting your time” is all I heard from everyone around. However, I just kept going. Then one day I met Dr. Morton Schwartzman, the dedicated optimistic, forward thinking and very popular pediatrician in the area. Right up front I asked him, “What won’t Cynthia be able to do?” Then straight from the heart he said, “I don’t know.” That was it, all I needed to hear. “If he doesn’t know, then I don’t know; and I will shoot for the moon,” and then I did.

Slowly but surely the original heartbreak began to disappear, and love, passion and excitement started to take hold. The more I taught Cynthia the more she learned, and then the more she learned, the more I taught her. We continued on that same path for a very long time and are still on it today. However, now it has a new addition — the more Cynthia teaches me the more I learn, and then the more I learn, the more she teaches me. Who would have ever dreamed of that!

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

There was a very poorly behaved boy with his parents in a photography studio waiting to have his picture taken. I was in the waiting room outside and could hear a little bit of his disruptions. It seemed his mother kept trying to get him under control but that he kept carrying on. Then eventually all the chaos and ruckus stopped. “What happened?” I wondered. Just then the studio owner, who I had been working with on a project, walked out and said to me, “You would not believe this, but that little boy, about ten-years-old, picked up a copy of your book Constructive Parentingand started reading the section on discipline. He told his parents, “Look … positive attention. You need to pay that to me.” They must have taken his advice right away because they all walked out happily together.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

The credit on this one goes to singer Barbara Streisand for her song Never give up.” The successes were plentiful but few happened as the crow flies. In addition, people everywhere were still giving me advice like, “Stop knocking yourself out? Don’t you know what she has? She will never learn. You are living in denial” and more. However, those words from her song kept ringing in my ears and spurring me on. Just when an effort looked hopeless, a reward of progress would come, and that gave me the motivation to keep on going!

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your Big Idea That Might Change The World

Parent education for every parent as soon as their baby is born and even before. There are eight stages from birth to age three, and there is information available about how to promote development during each of them by natural, fun and worthwhile parent-child interactions.

In addition, there are five areas that need optimal attention during this time — cognitive, motor, social, language and self-esteem, and there are wonderful activities known for each age and stage in all five areas. Providing a balanced program for little ones from birth to age three lays a positive foundation for all future development. Not having appropriate activities in all areas throughout the ages and stages could leave a baby, toddler and two-year-old impaired or delayed in one or more areas. Health routines are all part of this kind of programming too. Nutrition, moving, sleep and even breathing all need proper attention.

Here is the best part. Many studies are available to show that brain development is directly related to experiences during these early years. 90% of brain growth takes place between birth and age five. High quality and quantity language in particular play the biggest role in both brain development and all future functioning. Much other important input is involved too.

Other studies show that a lack of a solid positive parent-child relationship in these formative years causes major problems later in life. Crime and violence and even our rash of mass murders have been tied to very bad conditions during early childhood. With strong evidence about what to do and also what happens when certain kinds of interactions are missing, this kind of age/stage and areas of development parent education is an absolute must.

How do you think this will change the world?

Oh my! Child abuse will be on its way out, discipline problems in our schools decreased, and crime and violence reduced substantially. I can’t think of anything that will change the world more in a positive way. It will take three years for this kind of programming to show significant results; but if done right, they will be guaranteed. The societal changes will start to show right after that. The Carnegie Commission did a multi-million dollar study in 1994 to find out why we had so much crime and violence in our country at the time, and much to their surprise they found out that it was because of what happens to children in the first three years. According to the study, vital to adult success is “nurturing love, guidance, support, protection and educational stimulation.”

Keeping a Black Mirror and the Law of Unintended Consequences in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

The only problem is that people are used to thinking about these three years in just the opposite way — as unimportant and just a block of time with no particular purpose. They consider this time just a precursor to age three when very simple rudiments of education are meant to begin. While three-year-olds can walk, talk, eat, sleep, run and learn in much the same way as adults, how they do all those things is totally dependent on their beginning years from birth to age three. Perseverance and persistence will be needed to keep this three-year preparation time moving in the most optimal way. That is the fixed time-span needed to produce measurable results. The real fruits of the labors will not show up and be able to be measured until after age three when a true foundation has been formed.

Was there a tipping point that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

By the time Cynthia was two she started to attract her own attention, and by three she did even more. By the end of the first two years she showed that she knew all the colors, letters, numbers and shapes and that she was reading over 100 words. Neighbors began to ask, “How come your daughter understands all those things and our children, who are older and don’t have any difficulties or delays, don’t know half of what she does?” How did you teach her? I had to think about that and pull my thoughts together.

Then one day a mother asked me, “If I get a group of us together, can you give some workshops about what you did?” Honored by the request, I very quickly said, “Yes.” She got the mothers together, and I prepared materials for six lessons. The parents loved having the information, and I enjoyed teaching it.

After that I thought, “If these people like the ideas so much, maybe others would too, and maybe I could write a book; and then I did.” I took all my notes and turned them into Teaching with Toys: Making Your Own Educational Toys. After that pre-schools, churches and Temples began asking me to teach parent-child classes there, and the local community college contacted me to found a program for them. Next came a doctoral degree in early childhood education, more books and more programs.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

Recognition by the public that this is an absolute necessity. Funding, of course, is the other part of the picture.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. That this passion would increase difficulties at home. Having so much energy flowing in a direction away from my main relationship created an untenable situation. I was pulled apart by caring for a husband, a house, two children, one child with a disability, and an aging parent with many difficulties of her own. Something had to give, and it ended up being my marriage. That was very sad.
  2. That creating a business was a major undertaking. While I was professionally trained, I had no idea about the business world and how all that worked. One stumbling block led to another. The amount of time, money and energy needed took me by surprise.
  3. That it is always okay to follow your heart. I faced constant conflict all the time because I kept in my mind focused how I thought my life was supposed to be instead of on how it really was. The further it kept veering from that the worse the strain became.
  4. That I had a powerful inner self that could be discovered through meditation. I went without it for a very long time. Eventually it gave me the power to look inside myself for answers and guided me not to be dependent on others.
  5. That even after finding out what I wish I had known that I would be so glad I did what I did every step of the way. I discovered that I became “me” from all the trials and tribulations and that they were all worth it to become my newly empowered self.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important success habits or success mindsets?

Yes, turning to your own inner strength for answers. That is foolproof. You have the best insights about you. You will never let yourself down. You will always figure out the right thing to do.

Included in in this idea is how important it is to take care of yourself. Your body is your best friend, and you need first and foremost to keep your attention on it with optimal nutrition, moving during the day as much as possible and having an impeccable sleep routine. Breathing strongly, breathing as part of meditation, and deep breathing to reduce stress are all part of healthy living too. You can do your best work only if your body is happily at peace.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Begin at the beginning. It is always better to spend time instilling optimal habits than to have to do remedial or reparative work. Following that thinking, what better way could there be than to start early. “Every child is entitled to having the finest experiences, and every parent should know how to provide them right from the start” That is the theme on my website “Parenting with Dr. Sally” Since every person is a product of their experiences, it is best to make them as good as possible. There is not a moment to waste!

I was recently on a trip and stayed in a Marriott Renaissance Hotel. It was lovely, and this was a sign they had: “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the steps.” All of ours begin at birth, even before, and each one lays the groundwork for the next ones to come

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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