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137: How we are failing our kids…especially our strong-willed ones

By November 10, 2020November 8th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast
137: How we are failing our kids…especially our strong-willed ones

Today I’m discussing why I think we are failing our struggling kids. Kids that act out and “are not doing well”, are in pain. I see it as three gaps we need to close to help these kids and frankly, all kids. I define these three gaps as:

  1. The Parent Gap – The gap between the parent you wanna be and the reactive parent you are during triggering moments with your kids. This often looks like yelling, shaming and ultimately adding to the problem.
  2. The Challenging Child Gap – All behavior is communication. Behavior is a symptom, not the root of the problem. These challenging kids need the adults caring for them, to get curious and uncover the root of the behavior. The child is always trying to have a need met and most often would benefit from additional time spent skill building rather than using shame and punishment as ineffective motivation tactics to improve behavior.
  3. The Professional Gap – I believe that folks that choose a career in child development are generally the good guys – teachers, pediatricians, child therapists. HOWEVER, not all professionals are doing their own consciousness work. Many are still educated with old school methodology and promote pills before skills rather than working closely with parents to uncover the roots of the behavioral problems.

There is a big communication gap between parents and child professionals. The solution for your kid is never going to come from merely sending them to a pediatric professional for an hour a week without making significant changes at home. Period.

The solution to solving the “challenging child puzzle”  involves closing these three gaps so that our often hardest to reach kids can grow into the absolute best versions of themselves. This will be our focus this season on the podcast.

As always, thanks for listening, and be sure and head over to Facebook and you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community, where we post tips and tools and do pop up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!

About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

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0 (1s):
My name’s Randi Rubenstein and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast at Mastermind Parenting we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them. You’re listening to the Mastermind

1 (13s):
Parenting podcasts with Randi Rubenstein episode one 37. Well, hi guys, welcome to the podcast episodes for November, 2020, we have changed the format just a bit where I’m doing themes for the month, and we are putting out two episodes a month. And so what’s the theme for a November. The theme for NOV is how we’re failing our kids and what to do about it. I want to start off with a little bit of a story. I was just thinking about, you know, how sometimes like stories just pop up and it’s just a story from your childhood.

1 (57s):
And it’s something that you remember, but you remember it’s a little hazy that you remember some weird details. So I was thinking about how often there’s, there’s impactful moments from when we were kids that inform how we show up as grownups and most of the time were not even aware that its happening. And it’s so funny when you connect the dots so many years later, because I’m like, this is such an obvious thing and it just never came to me. So I worked as a volunteer at my kids elementary school for years and years and years and years.

1 (1m 37s):
And it really is part of the story that got me on the path to being the founder of Mastermind Parenting and doing the work that I do now, where I work with parents of strong-willed kids. And so when my oldest son who is now grown in flown officially, he graduated college in may. And then he has his first job when he was an elementary school early on, I started volunteering in the lunchroom. He started out at a public school and he went to a public school kindergarten first and second, and I volunteered in the lunchroom and I’m not a hundred percent sure how, why I started volunteering in the lunch room, but I think it was because my friend Valerie was following or volunteering in the lunch room.

1 (2m 28s):
And, and she just told me that that was something she was doing. It asked if I want to do it too. And I said, sure. And so I started doing it and realized that I really like volunteering in a capacity where I actually am around the kids and get to kind of see them in their element. And so I volunteered, I dunno, once a week or so when he was in kinder first and second, and I volunteered in a number of other ways where I was always sort of around the Kids. If I went on a field trip or I offered to help the teacher to go in and be an extra a Parent listener when kids were reading one-on-one, you know how they are all like learning to read in first and second grade sometimes in kindergarten.

1 (3m 15s):
So anyway, I volunteered in the lunch room and was it public school? The food was kind of gross. My kid didn’t even eat the hot lunch at that place. He, he brought his lunch every day, but you know, you just walked around and the kids would raise their hand and you would come and see what they needed. And, and it was just, I don’t know, it was just kind of a fun way to volunteer. And it was also a fun way for me to get to see my kid during the day in a way where he sort of got to, like, I was like, take me for granted. He didn’t make a big deal. He kinda got a cute little smile on his face, but he knew I was there to work. And I actually think that it’s for all my kids, when they would see me volunteering in this capacity, I always, I felt like it was a little bit of a source of pride.

1 (4m 4s):
Like there’s my mom. And because I really loved engaging with the Kids. So they didn’t come over and fawn all over me. They just kind of had this, like, I almost felt like it was like a knowing look like a confidence builder. And I have heard that one of the number one ways that, you know, that, that they’ve tracked kids’ that do well in school is like a direct correlation to parent involvement, parent volunteer involvement. So them seeing you up at school, volunteering in some capacity. And I get it, like if you’re a working mom, which many of the moms that I work with are working moms.

1 (4m 45s):
I know this can be a huge shame inducer, and that is not the point of me, of me pointing this out. I feel like raising kids, it takes a village and we all bring a different skill set and where I was a mom, I was a stay-at-home mom and I have the time. And frankly, it felt meaningful and purposeful for me. And I had lots of, I’ve always had lots of friends. I mean, now I’m a working mom and I have them for years. But at the time I always had friends that were working moms too. And they brought different skill sets. Like a lot of times they were the ones with that, bro.

1 (5m 25s):
Like they knew how to, how to, you know, operate in a corporate environment. And a lot of times they were the ones who were more organized and good at like cheering, fundraisers and galas and Andy and hosting events and putting all those details in place. So it is like we all brought different skillsets to the table, but my skill set was I would volunteer at school. So the lunch lady, so I was the lunch lady. I didn’t have to wear a hairnet, but I was in the lunch room and then in third grade is switched my child’s school. And he went to a private school and that lunch program was volunteer, run and coordinated.

1 (6m 10s):
Literally like the, it was the school did not put together the lunch program. It was up to the parents organization to coordinate how the kids were going to get fed if we wanted a hot lunch program. And, and so the first year I volunteered and then ultimately I ended up running that hot lunch program. Like that was my position where I would run the hot lunch or a program that was to have us. And we would work with getting the caterer to provide the food and organizing the volunteers, the parent volunteers who came everyday to serve.

1 (6m 51s):
And we have a whole schedule and M and quite often I was up at school during lunchtime, just man, you know, number one I had to fill in when we had a parent volunteer who had to cancel last minute and number to a lot of times, I would just kind of come up to make sure everything was running smoothly. So it was sort of awesome, especially with my oldest child, because I kind of got to be a fly on the wall. And he was my puzzling kid that I was always trying to figure out like, he’d hold it together all day at school. And then he would come home and sort of be his little nervous system was just taxed and he’d just sort of be in a foul mood and kind of take it out on us.

1 (7m 34s):
And so I was always trying to figure things out. Okay. So that was part of my story. My story as mom volunteer, I’m trying to figure out my kid getting to sort of be that fly on the wall during the day, but also being PRODUCTIVE. So, so because let me tell you something, teachers talk a lot about annoying, but in ski parents who have nothing better to do than to like, especially at private schools come up and hang around and kind of get in the way. And that wasn’t me. I didn’t wanna be in the way I want it to be a support to teachers.

1 (8m 14s):
I wanted to help teachers. I think teachers in so many ways, our, like the unsung heroes, they are underpaid, they’re overworked, they’re trying, they have not enough a behavioral management training in general, because then I went on to, to become a teacher trainer and a, and helping them with that behavioral training and classroom management and a program called conscious discipline. So, so I love teachers and it was my way of getting to volunteer and be feel purposeful. Well, all of a sudden, literally like last night I was just thinking, I don’t know, popped in my head.

1 (8m 55s):
And I was thinking about elementary school and my elementary school experience, which is many, many, many years ago. And I went to public school and it was the 1970s when I was in elementary school. And I remember when kids would have their parents come and have lunch with them and the parents would come and they would bring the kids some fast food from out from out. And the kid would get to eat McDonald’s or whatever the fast food was. And then their parents would sit with them and all the other kids would come and gather around. And it was like, you know, it was like the luckiest thing in the world when your mom or dad came to have lunch with you, especially this is a lower elementary.

1 (9m 41s):
So this is like kindergarten first and second grade. And, and I remember that I would ask my mom if she could come and have lunch with me, but she couldn’t. And, and I think I have my memory is that I asked her lots of times, but she was working. I have a sister who’s six years younger than me and, and my parents were young and parents of the 1970s. And she was kind of like, what are you talking about? Like, I have a life, like I can’t just come up there and have lunch with you. And I think my little self, like really couldn’t articulate probably why I wanted her to so badly, but I, you know, I think I kept requesting, kept requesting.

1 (10m 30s):
So I remember finally she came one day and the story, as I remember it is that in, she talked about it for years to come. There was some lady, it was a, she was a lunch lady. And I don’t even think I grew up in Corpus Christi, so big Hispanic population there. And I don’t think the lunch lady even spoke English. And my all my mom remembers is that there was this lunch lady and she had to come and talk to my mom about how much she loved me. She, you know, my mom, I think my mom could barely understand her, but I think she was just like fawning all over me, touching my hair, touching me just going on and on and on.

1 (11m 15s):
And I remember, I vaguely remember this lunch lady. I remember every day going to school, going to lunch, eating all the disgusting things. They served us like a tostada bake. I actually would kind of like to start a bank. I don’t know why they called it to start a bank and just not like to Stata, but we always knew what the, what the lunches were and Salisbury steak day. You could bet I was packing my lunch that day because I just couldn’t do like that. Whatever that mystery meat and gravy was, forget it. So M so I re I do remember this woman and, and I remember she would just light up her face would light up when she would see me.

1 (12m 1s):
And she would just fond and fond and fawn all over me. Now, I was not like, I didn’t really feel like I was the kid being fond over in class. I wasn’t like, like to me, it was usually like the little blonde cute girls. And I was like a little bit tall. I had black hair, I looked pretty Hispanic. You know, I was like this transplanted Jewish kid from parents that were, you know, parents that were new Yorkers who moved to South Texas and had no family there. And there’s not a big Jewish population there. And so I don’t know if this lady thought I was, I was Hispanic.

1 (12m 41s):
I don’t know if it’s just that there was something that just made her love me. Maybe it was just that I was a nice kid and friendly to her and had manners. I have no idea why, but if for some reason, this lunch lady like made it very clear that her day got better when she saw me. So why do I tell this story? So it, isn’t it interesting that my way that I ended up volunteering to, you know, make it, I think it was to make the kids feel special. Was this deeply ingrained memory of how that lunch lady made me feel that I wish I knew her name, you know, and I was young.

1 (13m 29s):
So there was something about how she made me feel in the middle of my day. She made me feel seen, she made me feel, you know, cherished this lunch lady would change my day every single day. And so I, you know, I just, I guess it’s like, I just feel like I’m on a mission that I believe every kid deserves to feel the way that lunch lady made me feel. And you know, sometimes kids don’t have anyone in their life.

1 (14m 11s):
It’s making them feel that way. You know? And what I want to say is, is that Kids that act out and are not doing well. I think so much of the time they are being surrounded with messages and grownups that are just constantly trying to point out all the ways they’re not doing well and slap bandaid approaches on why they’re not doing well, rather than getting to the root of that. Behavior of why they’re not doing well.

1 (14m 53s):
You know, because when kids feel seen and supported and ultimately cherished and celebrated, that’s the recipe, that’s how they start doing well. Okay. That’s how they start doing well. And I think that our society is doing a pretty shitty job properly supporting our kids are struggling. Strong-willed challenging kids to do well, to feel seen and supported and celebrated and cherished.

1 (15m 35s):
And so it just becomes this vicious cycle. It becomes this vicious cycle. And, you know, I don’t think like, you know, the lunch lady story, I wasn’t a kid that was having problems in class. I wasn’t the kid that was generally not doing well, but if it could impact me and my brain, to the extent that it did to have this woman who I don’t even think I can communicate with on, you know, verbally, it, it could affect me. And that way just think, Oh, if the kid’s who are really struggling, like they are, there’s a reason why all behavior is communication.

1 (16m 25s):
There’s a reason why our kids who are, are most challenging Kids are not doing well. And, and, and what they need from us as a society, as they need the grownups to learn how to support them better, right. How to support them better. So the way I see it is that we’ve got, how are we failing our kids? We’ve got three gaps. Okay. We’ve got three gaps. And the first gap is what I write about in my book. The Parent Gap okay.

1 (17m 4s):
And The, Parent Gap is the gap between the parent. You want to be in the Parent you are typically during triggered moments, right? So when your kid’s are pushing your buttons, when they’re not doing well, when they’re being defiant, when their being uncooperative, when their not getting with the program, typically what happens for us is that we take their behavior. Personally. We make it, if they call us to feel a certain way, there is some, you know, a trigger really is some unhealed old event or wound in our lives. That’s unresolved. And so our kid behaves in a certain way.

1 (17m 47s):
It causes us to feel disrespected, dismissed, not considered, not taken seriously ignored, you know, whatever, whatever it is. And it takes our brain back to another time in our life when we felt those things. And when we felt those things, we usually were kids and we felt powerless. And then we take it out on our kids’. So our kids aren’t doing well, but there are showing us that through their behavior, right? And then we get triggered and then we react rather than respond. And we never get underneath and find out the root of their behavior because we get reactive.

1 (18m 31s):
We may be yell or shame or try and bride them to do better. And we just slap band-aids on, you know, on whatever. We just try to find the quick fix solution and it’s never productive. And it never ultimately solve the problem and helps our kids to do better. So until we learn what’s going on for us and why, when we find ourselves in that, Gap like what, you know, what the recipe is to really uncover how to close that gap until we go through the consciousness work of, of, of doing that piece and closing that gap were not able to help our kids because we just continue to respond in these reactive ways.

1 (19m 19s):
And we end up adding to the problem. Okay. So that’s, Gap one, Gap two is The Challenging Child Gap okay. The Challenging, Child Gap is Behavior is a symptom. It’s not the root of the problem. So kids need adult support, learning new skills, new skills, right? Cause when they are not doing well, there is a reason there’s a reason. So their acting out with these behaviors, because in some way they have a lagging skill there not doing better. They need the grownups to kind of get curious and get along and to uncover and uncover the Behavior like, why is this behavior occurring?

1 (20m 11s):
What’s going on? We gotta get curious, right? Because they really need to learn new skills rather than just having the adults attack the behavioral symptoms with a bandaid approaches that don’t work like bribing through rewards and sticker charts or shaming, shaming them with lots of punishments, you know, pointing out all the ways that not punishments and consequences are to different things. Punishments involve taking things away and using an emotional shaming techniques and the Child perceives the punishment to mean they are bad.

1 (20m 56s):
Not that they just did something badly. Okay. So that’s why punishments can be, it can really add to this problem and an ad to The Challenging, Child, Gap, ’cause the Challenging Child any kid that isn’t feeling seen and supported and cherished, right. If they’re not seeing the adults as emotional safety, bringing emotional safety to their lives, well, they’re not going to trust us to help, help them learn new skills to actually learn new things so that they are able to be, to be and do better. Okay. So we’ve got The Challenging Child Gap problem where we’re attacking the behaviors rather than getting to the root of the behavior.

1 (21m 44s):
The behavior is just a symptom. And then the third piece, which is really what I’m bringing into the equation in this season of the Podcast is The Professional Gap The Professional Gap is that I believe, look, I believe we’ve got a gap in helping these kids. You’ve got a kid that’s tanking. That’s not doing well. Teachers are sending you notes, they’re pulling you aside. They’re letting you know, your kid’s blurting out, being disrespectful, not doing their work, having a hard time, paying attention, you know, having fights with the other Kids, whatever it is.

1 (22m 27s):
OK. So you’ve got a teacher maybe that points that out, or maybe you’ve noticed that they have behavioral issues. And so when you could take them for their well-check at the pediatrician, you bring it up and you’re like, you know, something’s going on with my kid? I don’t know why, but like they won’t eat anything. We have a hard time with sleeping. They’re constantly fighting with their siblings. Everything’s difficult. Everything’s if, for whatever your issue, as you know, maybe you, you talked to your pediatrician about it. And so, so whether it’s the teacher or the pediatrician, ultimately you get referred to some kind of child development specialist that is a professional Western trained professional.

1 (23m 16s):
Okay. So maybe it’s a, it’s some kind of a child therapists, child psychiatrist, and there’s lots of different modalities of, of those different, you know, of those different fields. And so then you go in to meet with them and ultimately your child gets on a treatment plan of some sort and they start to see this child Professional okay. And, and, and here’s the thing, I believe that anyone that goes into a career that has to do with some form of child development, I, I believe generally those are the good guys, right?

1 (23m 57s):
Like you’re not going into something that has to do with Kids because of fame and fortune typically. I mean, there’s lots of statistics out there that anyone that is goes into a field of child that, that focuses on child development, you get paid less. Like if you’re a doctor and you’re a pediatric neurologist, all of a sudden you are making less than just than somebody who’s just caused themselves as a neurologist. Teachers’ we all know our way, underpaid child, psychiatrists, and child psychologist and occupational therapist, who I’m a huge, a huge proponent of, I think they are the unsung heroes of child development, speech pathologists, all of these different fields, underpaid, especially if you compare them to their colleagues.

1 (24m 53s):
So that’s a message, right? Like we’re failing our kids as a society. Why, why are the professionals who focus on, on rate, on, you know, supportive methods and supportive resources for raising the humans? Why is that not seen as something that should be celebrated and financially compensated appropriately and our culture and why? It makes me feel like I’m such a justice seeker. That just, that makes me so mad. So these professionals, I believe are generally the good guys.

1 (25m 34s):
Okay. HOWEVER not all professionals are doing their own consciousness work. Like I want to go to somebody who’s doing the work. Okay. And so I want you to remember that not all professionals are created equally. Many child development professionals are still educated with an old school methodology and they promote pills before skills. Okay. Pills before skills. I just learned that from a pediatric neurologist, she used that and I was like, Oh my God, I love that. And she’s like, and she pointed out, she was like, it doesn’t mean we are anti pills. That’s just not our first Avenue.

1 (26m 17s):
Okay. Pills before skills. And they never did to uncover the root of the behavioral problem. It’s like, let’s just, let’s just, this is a brain chemical issue. Are there some times brain chemicals? Yes. There are. And can medication help with that? Absolutely. However, we’ve got to focus on the roots of the behavior and we’ve got to focus on the skill. Okay. So I believe there was a big communication gap between parents and child professionals. Okay. There’s, there’s a big communication gap there. So the solution for you okay.

1 (26m 59s):
Is that you’re never going to help to solve the problem by sending your kid to a high priced pediatric specialist or a therapist for an hour a week with out also making significant changes at home. Period okay. So, so that’s the thing, is that finding the right professionals, right? There’s been a lot of advances in neuroscience over the last decade or two. And so anyone who’s telling you that, why that, you know, that that sticker charts are the solution, that pills are the solution without asking you a litany of questions that have to do with basic needs, like sleep like food, like exercise, like behavioral techniques that are being used in the home, asking about what kind of boundaries and structures are going on and hitting the parent education piece without that happening.

1 (28m 9s):
Chances are, you’re not your, you’re not what the ripe Child Professional okay. Mmm. It’s a marriage. It’s a marriage between the two of the, the, the Parenting piece and the progressive a child development specialist piece. So we have to close that gap. We have to close that gap as well. Where were these professionals are understanding an hour with me a week is not going to change this child’s life. We gotta, we gotta, we gotta really tackle what’s happening on the Homefront as well. OK.

1 (28m 49s):
So the solution, the solution really, I believe in how to stop failing these kids is to close. These three gaps is to close these three gaps, right? And this is what this season of the podcast is focusing on closing these three gaps to solve the challenging child puzzle and to help your kids feel better, feel better, right? So that they can improve their long-term behavior and allow them to become the best versions of themselves. So that’s what we’re covering.

1 (29m 31s):
That’s what I’m digging into. I’ve been talking to lots of doctors and specialists, and I’m here to report a, to report findings, to report what I’m hearing to report my theories, because I believe that time is of the essence. We got to help these kids. And I know if you’re the kind of parent who’s listening to a Parenting Podcast I know you’re also a good guy. You’re also someone who wants to truly help your kid do better. You’re worried about your child. You want to know that it’s all going to turn out.

1 (30m 12s):
Okay. And so we’re having honest conversations here on the Podcast so that we can, we can do a better job on our kids, behalves ’cause they need us to be, they need us to figure this out. This needs to become the mainstream conversation that more people are having. So that’s what I got for you. And ah, and I we’ll see you guys soon on this podcast for more of these conversations, see air quotes. And I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it.

0 (30m 49s):
Okay. So take here. Hey guys, I made something for you. It’s a free training. I put my best stuff in it, and it is managing meltdowns to have a more joyful holiday season, especially if you have a moody or strong-willed kid. So it is about an hour long training. I think it is some of this stuff. And I think we all could use an app, a little extra help during this crazy year. So it’s available to you. All you have to do is go to Mastermind forward slash holidays. That’s Mastermind forward slash holidays.

0 (31m 31s):
And you will get instant access to this webinar because I want all of you to have a happy holiday season I’m. So whether your kid is two or 12 or 15, you all deserve to have beautiful memories during this crazy year. So just know you’ll get three things from this webinar. You’re going to, you’re going to learn how I believe you can have a holiday mural where your table is actually conversational, peaceful, and meltdown free. I’m going to cover a plan for grateful rather than bratty entitled. Behavior when it comes to presence, candy and special treats and a method that works now on a long-term to help your child to improve future behavior.

0 (32m 14s):
So I hope you signed up for it and would love to know if you find it helpful and gave me some updates. I want to hear from you guys. Okay. Mastermind Parenting dot com for slash holidays.

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