On the podcast this week, it’s part 2 of my conversation with pediatric occupational therapist, Mastermind Mentor and “kid whisperer”, Amanda Perches. Today we go deeper into what’s really going on with our strong-willed kids and why simply disciplining “misbehaviors” will not be a long term solution. We have to investigate and uncover the root of the problem. Amanda is a wealth of child development and sensitive nervous system knowledge and a champion when it comes to understanding and working with challenging kids. Send questions or comments for future episodes with Amanda to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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My name is 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.
It’s a Mastermind Parenting Podcast with Randy Rubenstein episode one 48. Okay. Welcome to part too, with the amazing Amanda will purchase AKA Mastermind Mentor and kid whisperer. So I said, we wanted to start this episode by really talking about the Strong Willed Child Gap. So it’s the Gap that I think is sort of the missing link where, you know, kids are showing up and they’re displaying less than awesome behaviors. And parents want to shut that shit down because it’s, you know, it’s exhausting, it’s exhausting to live with a strong willed child.
1 (1m 2s):
There are harder to parent, they push your buttons and there’s less than desirable behaviors going on. And it’s like, you love your kid, but quite often, you’re like, I am not sure that I liked them today. So if anybody out there is identifying with that, I want you to know you’re not alone. You’re totally normal. And I think that so many of us, most of us, we bring our conditioning from growing up about, you know, kids are meant to be obedient and, you know, whatever the saying is about the rod or sparing the rod. I don’t know even know what that is, but talking about basically like beating the shit out of your kids, you know, but like obedience and, and all of those things, I think it’s like you have a kid that’s showing up with these less than awesome behaviors and our conditioning kicks in and we wanna like shut that down.
1 (2m 2s):
We want to, we want to, we, you know, so we, we look for ways to like a band, like just tell me what to do to get them, get them to do X, Y, and Z, which usually, you know, translates into us, trying to control our kids. And any time a human feels controlled, they feel like their choice has been being taken away. And then they act out more. And so then the less than Austin behaviors become less than awesome behavior’s on steroids and, and it just spirals and gets worse and worse and worse. So I guess I want you to talk about like that the paradigm shift from that old school mentality and that autopilot program and kicking in to what actually helps these kids to start doing better and getting to the root of the behavior.
1 (2m 56s):
And I wanted you to talk about, do you the story about the kid doing either karate or TaeKwonDo and I, I would love for you to talk about that, that story.
2 (3m 10s):
Yeah. So there’s a, Child I work with for a long time, for several years and very high on ADHD spectrum and through no fault of his own, obviously, and through no fault of the mother. And this is like just a super amazing mom who was like anything he needs, right? Like what did, what does he need to do? What we need to do will do anything. And so what of my recommendations for her was to start it in and I, I love martial arts and you kind of martial arts for kids because it is actually is actually evidence-based. So there’s a research to support how helpful it is for, for kids with hypersensitive, nervous systems or autism or ADHD or any of that, because it’s, there’s that you’re focusing on sequencing and attention focus.
2 (4m 1s):
And it’s a very ritualistic, I mean, it’s just very calming to the central nervous system. So I, for a while I was doing a program where it, it incorporated OT in TaeKwonDo at the same time. And this kid came in one day and he, it was just completely dysregulated. I mean, like,
1 (4m 19s):
So wait, can I pause real quick? It wasn’t a, he like, like, what grade was he in at the time? And hadn’t he been kicked out of multiple schools?
2 (4m 29s):
Have you been picked out of a couple of schools? I think he was in second grade at the time, probably second, third tomorrow on there, I think the second. And so it comes down to completely dysregulated, meaning like literally bouncing off the walls, like running into the wall, bouncing off of them, sprinting around the room, not listening to anything and keep in mind there’s, you know, to professionals in their and one child, but this is still the behavior we’re getting, you know? And so I’m just kind of looking at, so I’ll take a step the second and a step back. And I was looking at him and literally at this point in letting him run out of the room so I can tell this body just needs more input, more movement. He’s not gonna get anything out. Have either of us that day or in this mom is paying to professionals privately in one hour to work with her.
2 (5m 15s):
Child so considerable expenses as well. And I was like, yeah, this isn’t gonna work. Like we are going to get nothing out of this today. So I went over, I didn’t say a word, turn the lights off. I laid down on the floor, had him lay down the floor next to me. I put some, just a bunch of, a bunch of weight on his back and on his legs and arms to, to try and calm him down. I turned on a guided meditation, which she and I had done before. There’s some awesome a kid meditations through like Headspace or calm app or there’s all different apps. And so we did a guided meditation and it took about five minutes. And after that, he was just in a completely different space and so much calmer and be receptive.
2 (6m 1s):
And then we ended up having an awesome, amazing session. And, you know, sometimes I think parents can feel frustrated because it’s like, Whoa, hang on. Where are you wasting my time with with this? Right? Like, I’m not paying you for you to like lay on the floor with my kid and do something I can do at home. Right. But this kid had, we not stopped have done that the entire session would have been wasted. Like he would have gotten nothing. It would have turned into power, struggle, control, you know, behavior modification, methods, all of that. Instead of we took a five minute break, he stands up. So he’s calm, he’s regulated. And then we got through all of our objectives for the rest of the day.
2 (6m 42s):
Right. And so educating the mom too, like after this session of like, Hey, this is why I did this. And also it’s incredibly powerful to model it for her. Like, Hey, when you’re in that mode at home, most of us job to her, a lot of us jumped to control power authority. You can act like that. Stop, stop bouncing off the walls, come over here and sit and be still go to time out all of the things of like, that’s not what that kid needs help with that just got to make them eat. It works. Right. And so while on that for her, like, Hey, stay, call, get connected, do a five minute reset. And it can literally, you, maybe you are going to be 10 minutes late to school. I don’t care because you are going to get a kid to school 10 minutes late, who is regulated and ready to learn, at least for me, or hopefully an hour or so, maybe the whole rest of the day versus being on time with screens and yelling and you know, Robin, a kid, you know, like trying to dress them because they refused to dress themselves, but full on their arm, off the door, like, Oh, we gotta good.
2 (7m 40s):
We got to go. We gotta go. You know, it’s like, I tell parents as adults, we don’t want to be treated like that. Like, I don’t want to work for someone who’s super controlling. I don’t want to work for someone who’s screaming and yelling at me. I don’t want to work for someone who’s micromanaging me. All of those things like make me want to run the other way or make me want to fight back or make me want to like, you know, yeah. Manipulate or like when I am not going to do it that way, just because you’re micromanaging me. So I’m going to choose to do it in another way, whatever. Right. So that’s how kids feel when you’re treating them through micro-managing and controlling and authoritative behavior. But then they get in defense mode of fighting back and not listening and, you know, playing games and yeah.
2 (8m 23s):
And you know, all of the things could be, I can control it because they feel sad. So out of control on their own bodies is that they, they have to try to control everyone else. And so just allowing parents the freedom to say, look, all you really need to do is stay calm and stay connected. And that’s all you’re gonna reach your kids. Every single kid, whether they’re super oppositional defiant, they’re ADHD, even, you know, high functioning, like connection and calm is like the absolute best way to get the results that you want with your children. And you and I talked to PR professionals about that too.
2 (9m 5s):
And they joke coz I’m like, send me, like, I love the oppositional defiant kids. Like I love the severe ADHD kids. Like you get them to come and get them all to me to send them a home on my way, because I find there the easiest to connect with because they’ve been the most under misunderstood for so long that when somebody comes to them and it’s just like calm and on their level and like, Hey, I’m here. There’s literally nothing. You can do it. You can hit, you can kick, you can pause the screen to him right away. Or you could throw things at me like I’m still going to be here. I’m still going to be like sitting here holding space for you. And when your calm and you’re ready, I’m here and we can connect. And they value that so much because they’ve been pushed away for so long because people don’t understand.
2 (9m 50s):
I actually find it. A lot of them are like the most empathetic kids and they’re so hurt. And they’re so sensitive, but because they’ve been dis-regulated for so long, they’d never been called enough to verbally explain it. This is how I’m feeling. This is what I’m needing. This is what they don’t know. They’re kids. They’re not supposed to know what they need. And as parents, those kids can be very difficult to know how to parent them, to know what their needs are. And it can feel very frustrating because it can be, you could feel like the failure all day everyday, because you were like, you try all of the different things. Like nothing works. Right. But what most people don’t don’t say is like, e-comm be connected. And by the way, and I always have to be careful about this because that absolutely does not mean for Mrs.
2 (10m 34s):
Parenting absolutely not. Like I am not a fan of permissive parenting where everything is a yes. Like I do love as a parent to come from a place of yes. When I can, but it just means calm and connected. Like we are, you know,
1 (10m 48s):
No, You, I’ve seen you work with, I mean, I have seen in the NDAA work with like tweens or, you know, tweens and teens who are shut down, like seriously shut down, seem to have been in therapy their whole life, like traditional talk therapy forever. And, and they are just totally shut down. And at first, when Amanda starts working with them, they’re shut down towards her. But then very quickly they realize she’s finally a safe adult. That’s just going to like be with them and hold space and not try and fix them.
1 (11m 28s):
And so when they start to, to come around, you’re very into like you, you connect and then you correct. But you’re very in awe. I’ve seen you do it where you are very big on accountability. And, and all of a sudden kids who have a executive functioning problem, blah, blah, blah. They had all of these, diagnose them with all this stuff. Next thing you know, you’ve got a kid who’s like doing all these things that, that all of the grownups that they would never be capable of doing, like holding themselves accountable, being responsible around technology, understanding when they break a rule that they’re going to lose a privilege because you have been that finally that safe adult for them to do that, you know, and, and the most amazing thing I think like, that’s why I think it’s, so it’s such a high, like working with these families is when you come and report to me and to, you know, and kind of keep me updated on what’s going on with different families and you give me the success stories and then, you know, you’ll share a message from a mom basically saying, okay, like this happened and they are giving us like the positive updates about, you know, I went, I had to take away the thing because he broke the rule and he didn’t throw anything at me.
1 (12m 57s):
He didn’t call me names. Like he accepted it. I, you know, I left we’re on good terms. Like, I can’t believe that I was strong enough to do that. And that my kid like allowed me to do that. So it’s like we see the kid’s starting to soften and finally to feel safer and more understood. But also we see the parent’s and quite often I find the moms building their confidence and, and realizing like, okay, I’m not a failure as a mom. I just didn’t understand my kids and my kid. And I didn’t have the skill set yet. So it’s like, We I see both, both people healing and it’s so freaking rewarding, like, yeah.
2 (13m 44s):
Well, and you know, my favorite thing is I somehow get a lot of referrals for a very angry or anxious teenage boys. And a lot of people don’t like working with that population. So they feel like, you know, that are difficult to reach or everything’s a no, you know, whatever, but these kids, like, they just want to be seen and heard. And once they feel like they’re seen and heard and understood, they’re like, they’re so quick to like, want to please you and to want to like be the leader, because it feels so good for them. Like, I always say kids there, I’ve never met a bad kid. I’ve been working for 20 plus years. I’ve never met a kid that I would label as a bad kid.
2 (14m 25s):
There are no bad kids. Right. They’re just kids who are misunderstood or not seen and heard. And parents who are trying their best and loving their kids the best way they know how, and it’s just not working because they haven’t had the right tools. But my most favorite thing is, you know, what, quite honestly, what I found out is the teenage boys are much faster to turn it around. And then the parents, because I’m working with the kids and the parents and the kids, like they have a shorter life of habits. Right. So it’s like, they may have had these habits for 12, 13, 14 years. Right. But the parents have had these habits for 30, 40, 50 years. So it’s hard to break habits. And my most favorite thing is, and I hear it pretty frequently, like a mom or dad sending me a message.
2 (15m 10s):
I’d be like, you know what? Like he did this and I started getting upset. And he was like, Hey dad, like, let’s just stay calm. And you know, let’s figure this out. And they’re like, Oh, he’s reminding me now. Like not only is he not like storming off to his room and slamming the door, like screaming, yelling, and cussing, like he is reminding me of like, these are the tools that we need to use. And they’re like, like I would never thought that would happen. And it’s just so ironic when the kid is the one being the leader, but so cool. Right. It’s so amazing. I feel like kids can be our teachers too, you know? And, and that happens in, in my own home as well. Like my oldest is a very, he’s just turned 14 and he is very calm and collected in sometimes with a little ones, they’ll be like, Oh, like, it’s not a big deal, like with us or whatever.
2 (15m 55s):
And then it’s like, when you model that for your kids, they start to pick up on it. Or if the kid is the one we’re not doing the modeling or the parents seem to be receptive to it too, ’cause it just, it feels so much better for everyone in the household. So it just, I mean, you know, like you said, I gave you updates all the time because I just, I still love that. Like, it is the best feeling the world is like, it’s why I’m passionate about what I do. That’s why is my passion? Because it’s so rewarding. Like, it’s so cool to see a family that is angry and frazzled and chaotic and toxic turn into just this cool connected car, you know,
3 (16m 34s):
That’s yes. Toxic.
2 (16m 37s):
It doesn’t mean that it’s without work. Right? Like they’re going to be in the work they’re putting the time in. But I always tell people like that work is so much easier to do than choosing to do the toxic work all day, every day in and day out. Like that’s exhausting. Like I can’t do it, you know? So yeah. Throw the toxicity out the window and just invite a common connection. And yeah, it’s hard to change habits, but when you commit to that and every one of the family commits to that, and the kids commit to that because they understand for once, like what, how good it feels to have self-regulation could be functioning from a place of self regulation versus disregulation. Like they’ll choose that are not going to say every time, but the majority of the time, right?
2 (17m 17s):
Like ’cause, it feels so good. You know, it starts young with a lot of these kids, you know, are highly sensitive or defensive or dysregulated or whatever. You know, they, the parents don’t really know what to do. So they try everything. It doesn’t work. It usually goes to the path. It will. I think that it usually goes to paths, right. Or it’s like complete disengagement and there’s no rules of no boundaries and just do whatever you want. Cause I feel completely powerless to know how to help you, or it becomes the screaming, yelling, control those things. And the way the most of these kids react is, well, this has become my identity.
2 (18m 1s):
I’m the bad kid. This is how I get attention through screaming and throwing things. Because as soon as I start screaming and throwing things or kicking or spinning or whatever everybody’s stops and all the attention is on me. All right. So that becomes the quickest way for them to get attention. And it works for them. And these are smart kids, usually who cognitively, usually in a higher level cognitively of, Hey, well, it’s pretty hard for me to self regulate. This is pretty hard for me to express how I’m feeling emotionally. And it’s pretty hard for me to like, go and ask like, Hey, can I do this or whatever.
2 (18m 41s):
So, but it’s pretty easy for me to like yell and scream and throw things. Right. And it works. And so then the parents are like, you know how to get through that. And then the kids like, Hmm, pretty cool. Like he had to sit through the yelling and screaming, but I’m kinda used to it now. So it doesn’t really bother me. And then the stakes just keep going up. Right. So it’s like when the yelling no longer works so well now I’ll start throwing things. Well, let me just give you a few. You want, because I don’t want you to throw something and it hit your younger brother and him get hurt, right? So it’s like, well then the throwing stops working. So now I’m going to start pounding on doors or whatever. And it just continues to escalate over time. And the more escalates, the more it’s enabled and rewarded because these kids did not have to learn self-regulation skills because that’s hard for them.
2 (19m 27s):
Right? That’s the skills that they’re lagging with. They really need to be working on. But instead we’re really putting all of our energy into enabling and rewarding this behavior because parents feel so powerless at this point. And they’re just trying to keep the peace as much as possible. So then it turns into everyone walking on eggshells and the kids, or like, Hmm. Now I notice you’re not reacting to this alumni, like escalate the paper for a little bit. Then you’ll get a kid who’s at this point, the kids are 10 to 12 years old. They’re going to, somebody is going to get hurt, write the kid’s gonna get hurt. The parents going to get hurt or whatever. And then if we contend to go down that path that does to high school looks like we’ll, let me go try it a vain. Let me see what we’re going to react to. If I try the bait, let me see what you’re about, how you react. If I like, you know, you catch me with lead or like, whatever.
2 (20m 11s):
Right. And so it just continues to escalate and nobody really ever knows how to break that cycle because it just stuck in the parents feeling helpless and enabling, and the kids escalating that behavior. And so that’s why it’s so helpful and important where people start that early intervention is evidence-based. I think it’s something like if you start intervention for lagging skills that like, I don’t even remember what the statistic is, but it’s something that you could say like 70 $500,000 by starting it like kindergarten versus like fourth grade, because you’re breaking those habits. You’re not allowing those cycles to even start. Right.
2 (20m 52s):
But it’s also not hopeless to start in high school. I mean, I primarily like all, almost all of the kids I’ve worked with them last year that have been high school aged kids. And even then it can be super successful. It just empowering parents with the right tools at the right time and getting on level with their kids too of, Hey, I’m here to help you. You’re not a bad kid. You’re actually pretty good kid. And they don’t want to hear it. And they’re like, no, I’m not. Don’t talk about that. I don’t want to hear about that. They’re very angry because they’ve never, their identity has become the quote, a bad kid. Right. And they’re not the bad kids. And so, yeah. I truly believe that all of, you know, that’s why I think Mastermind works because it’s working with the parent and the child, right.
2 (21m 38s):
It’s it’s not approved and approached just for the parent. And it’s not an approach just for the child. It’s that family dynamic of connectedness and calm and efficiency,
0 (21m 50s):
You know, that’s the beautiful thing the brain has neuro-plasticity and we are all capable of reconditioning ourselves at all ages, which I just think is the coolest. Okay. I’m going to wrap it up. You’re going to come on again. Love talking to you. Can’t wait to hear from everyone. Don’t you all love Amanda, you guys, you guys send us an email info at Mastermind Parenting dot com. Let us know how much you love Amanda. If you have any questions for her and we’ll cover them, cover your questions in future episodes. So thanks for being here today. Love things. Randi I love it too. 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 kids.
0 (22m 39s):
So it is about an hour long training. I think it is. Some of them have this stuff. And I think we all could use a little extra help during this crazy year. So it’s available to you. All you have to do is go to Mastermind parenting.com forward slash holidays. That’s Mastermind Parenting dot com forward slash holidays. And you will get instant access to this webinar because I want all of you to have a happy holiday season. So whether your kit is two or 12 or 15, you all deserve to have a beautiful memories during this crazy year.
0 (23m 22s):
So just know that you’ll get three things from this webinar you’re going to have, you’re going to learn how I believe you can have a holiday mural where your table is actually a conversational, peaceful, a meltdown free. I’m going to cover a plan for grateful rather than bratty entitled behavior. When it comes to presence, Candi, and special treats and a method that works now in a long-term help your child improve future behavior. So I hope you sign up for it. And I would love to know if you find it helpful and give me some updates. I want to hear from you guys. Okay. Mastermind Parenting dot com for slash holidays.