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The People Teaching People Episode 39: Empowering Big-Hearted Parenting with Dr. Andrew Dutcher

039: Empowering Big-Hearted Parenting with Dr. Andrew Dutcher

In this episode of The People Teaching People Podcast, Dr. Andrew Dutcher, a renowned child and adolescent psychiatrist, keynote speaker, and author of ‘Big-Hearted Parenting (Even When It Seems Impossible)’, discusses his journey from speed skating to becoming a medical professional dedicated to preventing Indigenous children’s entry into the child welfare system in Canada. 

Andrew shares insights from his book and his work, emphasizing the importance of building strong, healthy relationships between parents and children to foster resilience and positive growth. He offers practical advice for parents to improve communication, manage emotions, and create a nurturing home environment, highlighting the role of teaching and learning in effective parenting and mental health support.

Dr. Andrew Durcher believes in keeping families together. He empowers parents by equipping them with the tools and resources to improve relationships and create a healthy home environment. Andrew is a sought-after keynote speaker, educator and storyteller. He has expanded his repertoire from writing medical histories and prescriptions to writing books. He published his first book, Big-Hearted Parenting (Even When It Seems Impossible), in 2023. 

Andrew got his medical degree from Dalhousie University and received his specialized training as a child and adolescent psychiatrist through the University of Calgary. Andrew dedicates much of his time to working with Indigenous youth and children in the child welfare system in both Alberta and New Brunswick. Andrew is a Wolastoqey member of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. He now calls Calgary home. Andrew has been featured as a mental health expert in several stories covered by CTV News. His mission is to prevent any more Indigenous children from being taken into the child welfare system in Canada. When he’s not working, he’s on the hunt for good eats with his wife and exploring nature and other cool places with his three kids. 


Listen in as we talk about:

02:50 Becoming a child and youth psychiatrist 

09:12 Teaching as a child and youth psychiatrist

11:00 The importance of having a learner’s’ mind and heart

12:26 The difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist

14:19 Big-hearted parenting

16:38 The wisdom in our yelling as parents=

19:36 How to yell less as parents

22:55 Building stronger connections with our children

27:31 How to become a big-hearted champion

28:55 Helping our children listen – a little bit better

31:30 How to best support our children

33:34 Andrew’s favourite teacher

35:31 Andrew answers some rapid-fire questions

38:12 Andrew’s words of wisdom – relationships and stories are everything


Connect with Dr. Andrew Dutcher:


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Today’s episode is produced by VOLT Productions, a full-service podcast production agency helping creators and entrepreneurs launch, grow and monetize their shows. You can learn more about the agency’s founder Simona, their work and their team by going to


Dr. Andrew Dutcher says, “I need to have a learner's mind and a learner's heart when it comes to working with young people, because they're the experts in themselves.”


“I need to have a learner’s mind and a learner’s heart when it comes to working with young people, because they’re the experts in themselves.”

In his role as a child and youth psychiatrist, Dr. Andrew Dutcher emphasizes the significance of engaging with his young patients to comprehend the intricacies of their lives, familial dynamics, and individual traits. This personalized understanding enables him to tailor interventions that inspire positive changes and improvements. It’s a fundamental recognition that individuals seek professional help precisely because they’re facing challenges.

Moreover, Dr. Andrew remains committed to continuous learning. He avidly follows the latest research, guidelines, and literature in his field. By staying abreast of evidence-based practices, he ensures that his interventions are informed by the most current knowledge, thereby optimizing outcomes for his patients.


Dr. Andrew Dutcher is the author of "Big-Hearted Parenting (Even When It Seems Impossible)".


“Being a big-hearted champion is that big-hearted parent who really loves and cares about their child and wants to see the best for them, but starts taking action towards the things that are moving the needle in terms of helping them.”

Dr. Andrew discusses the underlying wisdom in parents yelling at their children, highlighting that it often stems from a deep emotional response driven by frustration or anger. He points out that this usually occurs when parents are trying to encourage their children to engage in beneficial activities, like turning off video games or doing chores. While yelling can sometimes reflect an emotional burden the parent is experiencing and may not always be constructive, Dr. Andrew suggests that it can also indicate a parent’s care and concern, emphasizing the importance of the intentions behind the outburst.

He further elaborates on the delicate balance between conveying care and potentially harming the parent-child relationship through yelling. Dr. Andrew argues that while the immediate effectiveness of yelling might make it seem like a viable solution, the ideal approach would be to communicate the same concern and urgency without resorting to yelling. He reflects on the universal nature of such challenges among parents, acknowledging the stress these situations can provoke, and advocates for extracting the wisdom and care from these moments to improve communication without damaging relationships.


Dr. Andrew emphasizes the importance of coping strategies for parents aiming to reduce the frequency of yelling at their children. He highlights that emotional regulation is key, especially when emotions run high and control is lost. To address this, he suggests taking a moment to step back and allow emotions to subside—a technique referred to in mental health as “riding the wave” of emotions. Recognizing the signs that precede yelling can greatly aid in managing reactions, such as identifying high-risk situations that typically trigger outbursts. Implementing a brief pause, which he calls the “1, 2, 3 yelling break,” can help parents gain the necessary composure before engaging with their children.

Further elaborating on the strategy, Dr. Andrew advises the use of specific coping skills during these breaks to facilitate calmness and ensure meaningful interaction afterwards. One effective technique he recommends is ‘box breathing,’ which involves a rhythmic pattern of breathing in for four seconds, holding for four seconds, breathing out for four, and holding again for four. This method, along with other minor distractions like watching a video, can significantly reduce potential damage to the parent-child relationship, helping to maintain a healthier and more constructive environment at home.


Dr. Andrew suggests that one effective strategy for parents to improve their children’s listening skills is through positive reinforcement. He notes that parents often overlook or take for granted the behaviors they expect from their children, such as listening and following instructions. By actively recognizing and rewarding desired behaviors, parents can encourage their children to engage more positively. For instance, if a child turns off video games when asked, exaggerated praise for this action can reinforce the behavior, making it more likely to recur. Even if a child needs fewer reminders than usual, acknowledging their improvement with positive feedback can significantly impact their behavior.

Further, Dr. Andrew advises parents to focus consistently on praising the behaviors they wish to see more frequently. This approach involves a long-term commitment to noticing and appreciating even small steps towards better listening. For example, if a child follows instructions with fewer reminders, praising this progress can motivate them to continue improving. Dr. Andrew emphasizes that this method requires close attention to detail and persistence, but by continuously supporting and celebrating their children’s successes in listening, parents can gradually foster better communication and cooperation from their children.


Dr. Andrew Dutcher is a renowned child and adolescent psychiatrist, keynote speaker, and author of 'Big Hearted Parenting, Even When It Seems Impossible’.

Embedded within Dr. Andrew’s First Nations heritage is a guiding principle: the profound significance of stories and relationships along life’s journey. For him, these elements are the very essence of existence.

One of Dr. Andrew’s most influential mentors was his speed skating coach, a relationship that profoundly impacted his personal growth. This mentor took the time to understand Dr. Andrew’s strengths and nurtured a deep emotional connection. Together, they embarked on a journey towards Dr. Andrew’s lofty aspirations, marked by a blend of joy, hard work, and mutual respect. The coach’s approach, characterized by leveraging Dr. Andrew’s unique gifts and fostering a supportive environment, left an indelible mark. It wasn’t any single teaching moment that stood out, but rather the collective impact of their shared experiences underscored the power of emotional connection in the learning process.

Reflecting on his journey, Dr. Andrew underscores the importance of emotional well-being and regulation for both teachers and learners. He emphasizes the need for individuals to be in a positive emotional space, allowing for fruitful discourse and effective learning. By honoring the significance of stories and relationships, and by nurturing emotional balance, Andrew believes we can create environments conducive to meaningful growth and mutual understanding.



What is something that you would love to learn about or something that you would love to learn how to do? To hunt

What is a book, podcast, movie, or TV show that you have enjoyed recently? The Bible

If you could sit down and have a conversation with someone that you would love to learn from, who would it be? Jesus



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