We are going back to an episode where I really talk about what I think high sensitivity means to me. I read the book The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron and I’ve read many articles and I’ve studied this for a while. The acronym is HSP for highly sensitive person. I know many people are familiar with it these days.
I just thought it would be helpful because I refer to HSP quite often. And so if you have heard this term, or maybe you haven’t heard this term, and you’re curious about it, listen to this short and sweet episode where I talk about it and what I think that it means.
I think that many people who have kids that are challenging, who challenge us, who call us to more, who a lot of people say are strong willed. And I think me bringing this to you guys again, is that I want y’all to really think about the questions, “Am I a highly sensitive person? Is my child a highly sensitive person?”
This is just all about self-awareness because I think that the main thing that needs to change in our culture is we need to stop thinking that there’s something wrong with our kids and that they need to be fixed. Right? You didn’t get a difficult child, you got a human one and there’s never going to be one human being exactly like another, even identical twins. They are not exactly alike. Like we are humans. We are human four-leaf clovers. I think we have to start thinking about our kids as the little humans that they are, and it’s our job to understand them, to understand when they’re challenging us, all behaviors, communication, and we have to play investigator and, and, and help them help them do better. Help them feel better.
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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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- The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When The World Overwhelms Them by Elaine N. Aron Ph.D.
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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 to the Mastermind Parenting podcast with Randi Rubenstein episode 1 94. Hi, thighs, how are you doing this week? Well, we are going to rerelease an episode that we did quite a while ago. That’s all about our highly sensitive kids. I read a book when my son Alec was about 10. I think I had been reading lots of things and I was already teaching some conscious parenting classes at the time and was studying a program called conscious discipline, which was just changing my life and introducing me to all kinds of new information, helping me understand my kid and helping me understand all the kids that are are challenging kids.
The kids that here’s a little spoiler alert, the kids are not really challenging. They’re challenging us to learn new things, to think in different ways to test ourselves, to grow and get out of the way that we were conditioned in terms of old school parenting and using fear tactics and trying to control kids. So I really feel like any kid that comes into our life and challenges us. It’s easy to just define them as a challenging child, but what they’re really doing is they’re calling us to more.
They’re calling us to step outside of ourselves and to problem solve and use our critical thinking. So I had been learning all these things and now I know how my brain works, that when as I write about in my book, the parent gap, like if I’m eating something delicious, like a delicious piece of chocolate cake, like I want to pass out forks. I want to tell, I want, I, I want to give everyone a bite. So when I was learning all of this new information, that was, you know, because conscious discipline is really, it’s an academic program. It’s really designed for teachers to help them manage the kids in their care more effectively.
There’s a lot of science. So I didn’t study neuroscience. I don’t think that, you know, however many years ago, 15 years ago, I think it was when I first started learning about conscious discipline. I don’t really think that the Andrew Huberman lab and podcasts like that didn’t exist yet. So mainstream people like myself, I just, I didn’t ever know this information about what happens when we’re triggered in our bodies and how other people, you know, their behavior reminds our brain and our bodies to a different time in our life where we were feeling the same emotion. Like I just didn’t understand any of that.
So I loved learning about conscious discipline. And when I start learning about things, I like to tell everyone else and pass out the pretend forks for everybody else to have a bike. So I was learning all this through conscious discipline and I was sharing it with everyone. I possibly could get my hands on. And then I read a book, I read it, this theory about highly sensitive people. And I read a book called The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron. And I’ll just never forget, like I was, I was at the beach, I was in my condo. I was reading and I just devoured this book in one afternoon.
And I just felt like this is it. Like for 10 years, I’ve been searching for, for an explanation that I couldn’t put my finger on why I couldn’t understand my child. And I read this book and I felt like the book was describing my child. So we are going to go back to the episode where I really talk about what I think, high sensitivity, what it means to me. You know, I’ve now I read that book and I’ve read many articles and I’ve studied this for awhile. And I know that, you know, The acronym is HSP for highly sensitive person.
I know many people are familiar with it these days. So I just thought it would be helpful because I refer to HSP. I refer to it quite often. And so if you have heard this term, or maybe you haven’t heard this term, and you’re curious about it, listen to this short and sweet episode where I talk about it and what I think that it means. And I think that many people who have kids that are challenging, who challenge us, who call us to more, who a lot of people say have their they’re strong-willed. And, and I think this is part of the, I guess, part of me bringing this to you guys again, is I want y’all to really think about, Am I a highly sensitive person?
Is my child a highly sensitive person? Like This is just all about self awareness, because I think that the main thing that needs to change in our culture is we need to stop thinking that our kids there’s something wrong with them and that they need to be fixed, right? Like you didn’t get a difficult child, you got a human one and there’s never going to be one human being exactly like another, even identical twins. They are not exactly alike. Like we are humans. We are human four leaf clovers. And I think we have to start thinking about our kids as the little humans that they are.
And it’s our job to understand them, to understand when they’re challenging us, all behaviors, communication, and we have to play investigator and, and, and help them, help them do better, help them feel better, you know, support them in the way that if they knew how to say, Hey, I’m really feeling a little wonky in my nervous system. I’m a little dysregulated because the world has been coming at me in a really intense way. And I didn’t get the best night of sleep. And I’ve only had sugar today. And my, you know, I’ve been numbing out on screens.
And so I’m, my whole body is a buzz and it doesn’t feel very good because I’m just a little kid, but I need you mom or dad to help me. Like, I need you to help me and to understand that when I am have a short fuse and when I act like a jerk, there’s a reason. There’s a reason. Maybe I just need more sleep. Maybe I need a snack. Maybe I need more structure in my life. Maybe I’m just missing connection. I’m not feeling connected to you. I’m not feeling seen. I’m not feeling heard. I’m not feeling understood. Maybe my teacher was in a bad mood today, and I was super frustrated during math or during writing time.
And I didn’t know how to say my hands just not cooperating, right? Like they need us to figure out what they need. They need us to get curious. So I think that explanations, like understanding what high sensitivity is and, and what it means to be a highly sensitive person going through the world. I think this is a really pivotal piece of the puzzle. And in terms of helping our highly sensitive kids, the kids that need us the most. So enjoy, You’re listening to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast with Randi Rubenstein, episode 87.
So I want to talk to you guys this week about people that I refer to as people that have sensitive nervous systems. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about this. There’s a term called HSP, which is a term by a woman named Elaine Aron. And the HSP stands for highly sensitive people. And her theory is 20% of the population just has a more sensitive, nervous system. So you take in stimuli from the environment to a heightened degree compared to the other 80% of the people.
So a lot of times with little kids, they get described as explosive because they take everything in, in such a more intense way that it’s like, they’re always on high alert. And since little kids live for the most part in their emotional brain, that’s the most developed part of their brain. They just can get set off so easily. And so these little kids are quite often living in a state of chronic anxiety. Now, when we think of the term anxiety, and we think about like, if you’re an adult that has struggled with any anxiety, like you probably know that it can feel debilitating and maybe it shows up in your body, like in the form of migraine headaches or a lot of sleeplessness and racing thoughts, or you have a nervous stomach and you’re just nervous a lot, or you sweat a lot, or you have some social anxiety.
You can’t think of what to say, right? Like, you know what it looks like for adults, but with kids, anxiety often looks different. It’s interesting. It often looks like behaviors that it’s hard for us to feel compassionate towards our kids when they model these behaviors. Like a lot of times anxious kids, they get mean, and they say mean things and they can be explosive or shut down. They can be mean to their siblings. They’re quick to anger. They’re quick to overreact when something new or different is presented, they’ll dig their heels in.
They can be super controlling. A lot of times it shows up in like dictator type behaviors and then they get categorized as strong-willed or difficult. But quite often what’s at the root of the behavior is anxiety. Now, if you’re over here thinking anxiety, oh my gosh, my child has anxiety. They have anxiety. I want to offer something to you. Anxiety is not cancer. Okay. If your child is showing up with these strong-willed behaviors and some, this sounds familiar and you’re like, I never thought about it as anxiety. They’re feeling anxious. Well, that makes sense.
Because they take in the world in a more intense way, like smells or smelly or tags or itchier, you know, they just, they take in things to such a heightened degree that it puts their body in a state of sort of like high alert. It’s almost like, you know, they’re, they’re on the front lines of a war and they’re on high alert. And so you offer something new or all of a sudden you want to change their environment. You know, they’re happy playing at home or doing whatever. And then all of a sudden you’re like, okay, time to get your shoes on and go to school. And there they ignore you, right? So they ignore you because they don’t want to change their environment. Like they’re on high alert anyway.
And they’re in their cozy little sanctuary. Why would they want to go out into the unknown world where all the smells are smellier and the things are going to happen. And they don’t know what to expect when they’re here in their little safe incubator. So they ignore you or they dig their heels in and they resist, or they try to control. They try to control. And we make that behavior mean something that something different than it is when it’s really just that they’re feeling anxious. Cause their little nervous system is taxed. Hey, podcast, listeners.
I’m super excited to tell you about something new that I’m doing called the weekend warmup. It’s going to be on the third, Friday of every month. And I’m going to coach you live. I created this because I know a lot of you guys feel like you know me, but I want to know you too. So you’re going to come. You’re going to get on zoom with me. I’m going to coach you. And we’re going to get you warmed up for your weekend. What do I mean by that? We’re going to hike, gather parent our weekends together. If you don’t know what hung gathered, parent I’ve turned it into a verb, just so y’all know, hung out. Their parent is a book that came out not long ago. I’ve had the author on the podcast. I make it required reading for anyone that comes and works with me.
And it’s just about the fact that many of us, especially those of us who come and listen to things like this. Our weekends are just filled with too many kid activities and there’s no adult time. You know, maybe you’re going from birthday parties to just nonstop, nonstop, fun, nonstop memories. And you’re finding yourself depleted and exhausted. Maybe even more so on Sunday night than you were on Friday. And it’s just not supposed to be that way. So we’re going to hunt, gather parent our weekends together. I’m going to coach you live. I’m so excited to meet you guys. And I want you to sign up. It’s free. I’m offering it for free. So just go to Mastermind, Parenting dot com forward slash weekend Mastermind, Parenting dot com for slash weekend.
Sign up, sign up. And this is what I want to say is when you start to see it, that anxiety and those less than awesome behaviors that are a result of the anxiety. And you remember, this is not cancer. This is anxiety. And it’s because this little person has a highly sensitive, nervous system. And they’re taking everything in, in a more intense way and start to understand like, this is just their body response to living in a state of high alert or fear or fear the way to actually support them.
Because it’s not a fun place to live. You guys, right? Like, and if you’ve ever struggled with anxiety, you know that it’s not a fun place to live. The way to actually support them is, is to not to try and cage them. Like I think of like, we have a cat that my husband’s allergic to cats, but years ago my daughter decided that we were at PetSmart one day and she wanted to adopt a cat. So it’s like a cat that lives outside, but we feed it. We actually had, don’t tell the pet smart people, but we had to lie and say that it was going to be an indoor cat, but it’s really an outdoor cat. It’s really a feral cat. And like once a year, we have to have, you know, we have to take that cat to get shots at the vet.
And let me tell you something, trying to cage that feral cat is a nightmare because that cat is on high alert. It lives in the wild, right? And so when all of a sudden we’re putting it in a cage, like it has no clue, Hey kitty, kitty, we’re doing this for your own good because we don’t want you to have like terrible diseases. And we’re, you’re an outside cat, but you’re sort of an insight cat and we kind of feel responsible for you. So we want you to get your shots and this is going to serve you. Long-term that cat doesn’t understand that that cat thinks like you’re putting me in a little cage behind bars and I’ve got a claw and fight my way out. So I want you to think of, especially when you’re sensitive, nervous system, kids are in the younger years, like they are that feral cat.
So when you try to change their environment and they’re on high alert on, in the front lines, like anything feels like a threat. It’s not going to go, well, it’s not going to go well. So the real answer is that we have to stop trying to control them. We have to build trust. We have to let them know like, I’m your soft place to land. I got you. I got you. We have to not focus on when they are on high alert, showing all those less than awesome behaviors. And we focus on all the less than awesome behaviors when they’re in that state of panic and anxiety and fear, all that does is make them feel more alone.
And like they need to stay in that state of high alert rather than getting to relax and be able to trust us. And over time, be able to live in a less stressed out state with less anxiety and, and become, and become a more enjoyable version of themselves because they feel emotionally safe because we’ve created that environment for them. So it’s this like vicious cycle you can easily get into when you’ve got one of these kids because they show so many, you know, the anxiety for them shows up in ways that does exactly elicit compassion for us. And so we admonished them on all these less than awesome behaviors rather than getting to the root of the anxiety and helping them to feel safer in the world so that they can show up feeling better.
Do you see? So, so it’s like somebody has got to start the process of disrupting this pattern. That’s clearly not working for them or us. And since we’re the people with the fully developed brains, I think it just, it needs to be us. We can’t expect them to start behaving better until we help them to feel safer in the world. And their body learns that they don’t have to live in this state of constant high alert. And when they do, we’ve helped them to skill, build to get out of that state of high alert and, and ultimately become a more enjoyable version of themselves and a more confident version of themselves. Cause I trust, I trust me when they’re acting out in these ways, they know, they know they’re not being likable.
They’re not feeling good about themselves. It’s like what Dr. Ross green says, kids do well if they can. So if they’re not doing well, there’s something to figure out and they need us to have their back and they need us to help them build skills. And we have to do that by helping them get out of that defend and protect zone and move into the love and connection so that they can trust us and then be ready to learn new skills to improve future behavior. Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life.
And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household. I want you to go to my website and check out Mastermind, Parenting dot com. We have three beginning programs, and if you need some accountability and more support, then please look for the one that would be a good fit for you. And as always, we’re on all the social channels under Mastermind Parenting on Instagram, it’s mastermind, underscore parenting, and you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives, where I give you teaching and coaching.
And I love engaging with you live to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better because when they feel better, they do better. And I love, love, love, getting to know you guys. So thanks for listening. If you like this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review super, super appreciative.