Childhood Development: Shaping Mindset, Skillset, and Behaviours - Dr. Ravi Rajaratnam

In this episode, we discuss shaping mindset, skillset, and behaviours during early childhood development.
Our guest, Dr. Ravi Rajaratnam, is a strategic advisor, executive coach, speaker, and author of 'Hardwiring vs. Rewiring', a book about shaping the mindset, skillset, and behaviours during early childhood development.
Connect with Dr. Ravi:

Automated Transcription of the Podcast: 

Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to the Parenting In the Digital Age podcast. Many parents are concerned that their child might be falling behind. Others are just looking for ways to help their children thrive, not just in the classroom, but socially and well into their future careers. Each episode, we explore the challenges facing parents in the modern world, from behavior, education and nutrition, to device and gaming addiction. We interview a range of leaders in the area of childhood development to help you successfully navigate parenting in the digital age, here is your host. Jamie Buttigieg. 
Speaker 2 (00:37):
Welcome back parents. We have an exciting guest joining us today, and that is Dr. Ravi Rajaratnam, who is a seasoned strategic advisor, executive coach, and author of Hardwiring versus Rewiring, which is the book about shaping the mindset, skillset and behaviors during early childhood development. And that is our theme for today's discussion. But before we get into that, Dr. Ravi, would you please share with our listeners in your own words, what you do and what you're passionate about?
Speaker 3 (01:05):
Thanks, Jamie. Uh, thank you for having me first and foremost, I am a parent to three amazing children, two boys, and one girl, all adults and pursuing and excelling in their careers and interests. Uh, like you mentioned, I have 30 years of experience in the corporate world and currently, I'm a strategic advisor and an executive coach to numerous organizations in the United States. In regards to my passion in a corporate setting, my training in industrial organizational psychology has influenced me in wanting to figure out what motivates and inspires people to be the best versions of themselves. What are the do just enough or be mediocre, which eventually let me to write my book Hardwiring versus Rewiring, uh, in regards to my passion and the, you know, other passion, uh, it's more on the community service and volunteering through numerous charitable and non-profit organizations that are primarily focused on helping the homeless mentoring and coaching military veterans who are trans transitioning into the, a sibling life and second career, and finally providing access to education to rural children globally, specifically in India.
Speaker 2 (02:14):
Wow. That's uh, fantastic. Thanks for that background. And so, you know, the podcast is called Parenting in the digital age, so perhaps you can give our listeners a sense of what is so unique about the digital age that parents would need better guidance on in raising their kids.
Speaker 3 (02:28):
Sure, sure. Yes. The mythical digital age, uh, just the level set your audience. The word digital age was the result of the current industrial revolution also noted in industry 4.0 whereby the digital age refers to the time period in which, uh, personal computers and other subsequent technologies were introduced to basically provide users the ability easily and rapidly trans information. So the tips that grew up in this age are essentially digital natives with that said, what's unique about this digital age is that their key skills needed for an individual to be successful in this digital age is also called the 21st century skills, which are cognitive interpersonal skills and interpersonal skills. Let me unpack this a little further. Uh, cognitive basically means it consists of three main areas, cognitive processes and strategies, knowledge and creativity. Essentially, there are skills associated with the acquiring knowledge and processing information through thought such as reasoning, intuition, perception, innovation, creativity, problem solving, you know, active listening and things like that.
Speaker 3 (03:42):
Whereas interpersonal skills include intellectual openness like work ethic and conscientiousness and positive core self-evaluation skills basically associated with, uh, adaptability, self-management, self-development and also self-awareness, uh, basically help control your attitudes and inner processes. Uh, they essentially form the foundation for relation building and help navigate your interpersonal relationship, which leads us to interpersonal skills that consist of teamwork, collaboration, and leadership, primarily behaviors, techniques, and traits you rely on when you interact and communicate with others in various scenarios, whether it's communication and cooperation, uh, communication, cooperation, et cetera. So as parents at this digital age, not only should you be aware of the 21st century skills, but you also need to understand and be equipped with how you would go about nurturing the child at a young age so that your child can excel in the cognitive interpersonal and interpersonal skills to be successful in the current industry 4.0,
Speaker 2 (04:51):
Yeah. Wow. Okay. So what, what inspired you to write this book and, uh, specifically, how is that relevant to the digital age and this current digital industrial revolution?
Speaker 3 (05:02):
Sure. First it's important to understand that the mind and the brain are actually two different, but interconnected entities, uh, while brain is considered to be a physical thing, the mind is considered to be mental. That's the subtitle of my book, shaping the mindset, skill set and behaviors during early childhood development. And if you look at mindset essentially, uh, there are a set of belief that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself it, and it influences how you think feel and behave in any given situation. So as a child, where do you think the set of beliefs come from? It comes from the parents, the caregivers and the environment that they grew up in. So what I wanted to do in this book is to provide parents, grandparents, and any caregivers, simple and practical strategies and tips for the proper development of the mindset, skillset and behaviors at a very early age, I also expanded at what the early childhood development skills are.
Speaker 3 (06:06):
And primarily besides the motor skills development, the early childhood development skills are cognitive skills, language and communication skills and social and emotional skills, which has a direct correlation to the 21st century skills, which are cognitive interpersonal skills. So to answer your question, how is this relevant to the digital age and the current industrial revolution? Uh, this is where I get excited on the relevancy. It'll take a little bit of explanation. So here it goes. Uh, if you look at a newborn baby, it has all the brain cells they'll have for the rest of their life. This brain cells are called neurons and there are 86 billion with a B neurons, the same as an adult at the time of birth. But at birth, this raw materials, neurons do not have many connection to other neurons. So it's like a blank campus still immature and waiting to be hooked up.
Speaker 3 (07:03):
It's similar to buying a computer desktop or a laptop where you need to pro put programs and productivity softwares to make it functional. So therefore a baby's job in the first three years is to build lots and lots of connection, which I call synapses. And an important point to note here is that the critical period where child's brain developed more than it does at any other time in their life is from birth to age five. It grows to about 80% of the adult size. And by 83, it is nearly fully grown at over 90% by age five, meaning zero to five years is where the brain is at the highest period of neuroplasticity. A period where billions of neurons in the child's brains are connecting and waiting to be hooked up via synapses, uh, that are influenced by what they learn from their caregiver and environment.
Speaker 3 (07:57):
And this is where the set of beliefs are also pathed on to the child. Remember my earlier comment about mindset, which is essentially a set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world yourself and influencing how you think feel and behave in any given situation. And this beliefs are embedded and resides in our brain as unconscious thoughts, unconscious emotional reactions, and which is also another important point because studies has shown that 95% of who we are in terms of our day to day functioning consists of a set of habits, unconscious thoughts, and unconscious emotional reactions. And this is the important part. The majority of this habits and thoughts and emotions are formed during early childhood development stages. So the goal or the relevancy here is to hardwire the right mindset, skillset and behaviors through the proper development of the cognitive language and communication and social and emotional skills during this critical period from zero to five years, as opposed to playing catch up later on and trying to rewire your brain at a late stage.
Speaker 2 (09:03):
That's, uh, that's a great explanation. I, I thank you for, for providing that. So man, okay. All my kids are over five. I hope that doesn't mean I've missed the boat now. Oh,
Speaker 3 (09:13):
If point you said that because a lot of people say, oh my God, and my child is older. Or what about me? I'm going through the process of rewiring myself. So, and one of the biggest things that's coming up now is discovering or child your inner child, or more importantly, healing your inner child. And that should be a red flag. Why are you healing your inner child when your inner child should be, you know, full of fun and adventure and joy, you know, so if you're healing it, what happened? Right? <laugh> yeah. And as parents, we don't really have an instruction man, on how to raise a child. So that's one of the reasons why I compelled to write this book, uh, because I also saw another statistics from the United Nations, which I have stated in my book that there are 250 million kids under the age of five that are developmentally delayed, 250 million globally.
Speaker 3 (10:09):
That's, we're falling to every one of us. Right. And if we don't take action, we that we, they were gonna be paying later on because folks are gonna be adults and they need reskilling and retooling, and we are gonna be in a lot of hurt. So it's important that, you know, I wanna make sure that I equip the parents and caregivers. It's like, this is what you do. But if you are beyond that age, and if you are an adult trying to rewire, you can always go back and it's like, you know, look into your inner child, what happened. So then you can tap into that, ah, this is why I am the way I am, whether was a broken family or whether I was told that I'll never amount to something or whether I was not given op opportunity, you know, and things like that. But now that, you know, that's like, okay, that's the past, let's rewire it, just like a computer again, like when it fills up with cookies and cash and things like that goes slow, right? So you wanna get rid of all that and then start putting new DNA in it. And things like that.
Speaker 2 (11:11):
It sounds like my brain, sometimes Dr. Ravi <laugh> it's, uh, got, got too many tabs open, uh, most of the time. And it, uh, does go very slow at times now. Uh, we've gone, you've talked a lot about the, the what, uh, and so we wanna try and add a practical element to this podcast. And so, um, uh, you know, can you share maybe some of the, how, like, you know, maybe some of your top tips or strategies that parents can actually use in, uh, programming or just helping their kids have the best possible life or the best head start?
Speaker 3 (11:38):
Yeah, the, uh, the short answer. Sorry
Speaker 2 (11:42):
That that's a broad, that's that? Yeah, that's a broad question. So I apologize, but take that where you you'd like to take it.
Speaker 3 (11:47):
No, no. At, because I was pausing there because the short answer is parents are the best toy the child can have. You don't need to spend money on expensive gadgets and technology and things like that. Because as I mentioned, zero to five, who's the closest to the, the child, the parent or the caregiver. Right. And it's a blank canvas. They're waiting to be hooked up. The neurons are waiting for the connections, right. So they observe everything, you know, similar they're like a sponge, right? So one of the best thing the parents could do is proper role modeling, right? How they interact with others, even how they interact with the child. Are they actually looking at the child, you know, in their faith, to the eyes, as opposed to multitasking with watching TV and answering them or looking at their cell phone or whatever. Right. So role modeling is one of the things that have sprinkled throughout the book.
Speaker 3 (12:46):
And I've also introduced in the book, the concepts called the four Cs, which are basically curiosity, conscientiousness, critical thinking, and compassion, basically showing parents and giving them tips and how you can teach practice and reinforce the four Cs that could be incorporated into their day to day activities and interaction with their child, uh, is that difficult, but it would require discipline and being constantly conscious of the four Cs. It's all laid out in the book, but let me give you just a definition of the four Cs and why it's important. Uh, if you look at curiosity, it's basically having a strong desire to learn and know something. And I also strongly believe that curiosity is also a catalyst for innovation since it sparks the intrinsic motivation to learn and experience that understand the environment in the world and with the digital age and industry, what 4.0 change is the only constant technology advancement is going on at an exponential speed.
Speaker 3 (13:52):
So always trying to understand how things are working and innovate and experiment is critical. So curiosity will be the first C the second C will be conscientiousness. And that includes high level, uh, self thoughtfulness, good impulse control and goal directed behaviors. And why that's important is because we currently live in a global economy where the workforce consists of people from all over the world for different cultures than languages and things like that. So you need to be more empathetic and self aware and group awareness. That's why conscientious is very important. The third C is critical thinking, and I consider critical thinking as the connective tissue or the silent C that actually binds the cognitive, the language and communication and social and emotional skills, basically allowing them to function holistically and in tune with each other. Because the quality of everything that we we do is determined by the quality of thinking.
Speaker 3 (14:54):
And if you look at the, uh, foundation of critical thinking, if you go to their website, they have a great definition. It says critical thinking. It is the intellectual discipline of processing information that is gathered from all generated by various means as a guide to believe in action. Right? So finally see compassion, oh my God, I can write a whole book on compassion. Uh, and I wish more corporate leaders are also more compassionate and empathetic to your, their employees as well. But compassion is essentially the sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with the desire to alleviate them, you know, and it requires strong cognitive skills. And to bring advantage needed, to recognize that there is suffering or at ease and make you feel emotionally moved or disturbed by the plight of others. And not only try to understand how they might feel for you, but also the attempt to take action to relieve the suffering. So as you can see, just by the definition of the four CS alone, there's a direct correlation to the 21st century skills of cognitive interpersonal interpersonal skills and why it's important to focus on the four CS.
Speaker 2 (16:11):
Yeah. Yeah. That's fantastic. And, you know, I guess by the very nature of technological change parenting is, has changed so much. And, you know, we can no longer parent the same way we did 30 years ago. And, and you said this earlier, like there is, there's no rule book or there's no instruction manual for parents. So I think books like this have a very important place, uh, in, in giving parents the tools and some, and some newer tools that we haven't perhaps had to, uh, or, or heard about in the past.
Speaker 3 (16:40):
You absolutely. Right. Jamie, um, and not only parent, the education system has also need to change, right. They need to make sure that they're not going through like root mouth memorization and giving them questions to know and answers and things like that, because why should I listen to a professor who is pontificating things that I can find on my cell phone? Right. So what absolutely need to do is like, okay, now that this information's available so readily, how can you take this information? And then even advancements further, right? How can I give you problems that don't even have a correct answer or could have multiple answers and things like that, but we are still stuck at the old way of teaching and that's what parents need to take. Action. And teachers also need to take action.
Speaker 2 (17:27):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, I think, uh, there's a whole podcast just to unpack in that doctor. I can tell you, uh, so one question we, we like to ask all of our guests a bit of a fun one, uh, just to change the mood a little bit is, um, you know, if you could go back to your 10-year-old self, uh, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Speaker 3 (17:48):
10-year-old self? Oh my God. Yeah, that's a good one. That's a real good question, Jamie. Uh, I was a total brat when I was growing up, but it was life flow as being adventure. Uh, but I had a lot of good role models as small, uh, with my siblings and my parents and others around me. So one piece of advice, if I were to pick up all the different things, I would say maximize my curiosity or 10 X, my curiosity, uh, what I mean by that is I would always encourage to be curious as a young child and to constantly figure things out rather than take things the way they are. So I would say people curious about everything and everyone that you interact with and let your curiosity lead you to read more books, seek more friends, seek more adventure data experiment, and constantly keep learning, inventing and reinventing, no matter how small the effort is essentially training and building that muscle memory where curiosity is your natural and first reflex. Does that make sense?
Speaker 2 (18:55):
Yeah. It makes perfect sense. Yeah, definitely. I'm, I'm still trying to, uh, nurture my curiosity even today. And, uh, I do so through this podcast also, I, I learn a lot. I said, uh, to my wife earlier today, this is like a, a mini university degree. We have so many wonderful guests come on and share their, uh, knowledge in a, in a condensed form, uh, that, uh, I'm very grateful for you and your time now, before we sign off, where can our listeners find you online? How can they get your book? We talked about this just before the, uh, before we came on. Uh, how can they connect with you? Sure.
Speaker 3 (19:25):
My website will be definitely the best source. It's I have my Twitter handle, Instagram, Facebook, everything in there. And, uh, you can get the book, uh, being in Australia and You should be able to get that. Uh, the audible book will be coming up soon. I don't have that, but the e-book and the paper book back portion is over there.
Speaker 2 (19:53):
Fantastic. Yeah, that's great. Uh, Dr. Ravi, look, thanks for your generosity and your time. I know there's, uh, plenty of, uh, takeaways for parents. I know I've got a lot out of today's podcast. Thanks for your time. Once again.
Speaker 3 (20:03):
Thank you. And again, the last comment that I'd like to make is I really, really like to appeal to all parents and educators out there. Uh, I've given you 250 million reasons for you to take action, right? And if that's not enough, I'll give you another 140 million reasons because that's the number of children that are born globally every year. <laugh>
Speaker 2 (20:28):
Well, great, great way to close off doctor again. Thanks for your time. And, uh, thanks for your generosity.
Speaker 3 (20:34):
All right. Thank you, Jamie. You have a great day.

If you enjoyed the show, please connect with Jamie on LinkedIn or Instagram. You'll find links in the podcast. Description parenting in the digital age is sponsored by Skill Samurai, coding and stem academy for kids. Skill Samurai offers after-school coding classes and holiday programs to help kids thrive academically and socially while preparing them for the careers of the future. Visit