Skip to main content

50: How to Teach Your Kids to Speak Up for Themselves Without Acting Like Jerks

By February 12, 2019November 9th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast
50: How to Teach Your Kids to Speak Up for Themselves Without Acting Like Jerks
In this episode, I tell 2 stories of how kids (12 and 4) learned to respectfully and effectively use their voice. I also share a bunch of other helpful tips and tools to foster better communication for yourself and your kiddos. Enjoy!
Topics Covered:
  • Assertive communication
  • Kids learn by what we model
  • Passive and aggressive communication
  • Sibling fighting
  • Showing and commanding respect
  • Pack leadership

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.

Randi’s Social Links

Links & Resources

Get my Free Guide!

This guide contains the condensed nuggets of my mind mastering parenting recipe. I’ve been developing my signature Mastermind Parenting method for over twenty years and I’m BEEEyond thrilled to share it with you. It has the power not to just improve the conversations and relationships in your family but digging in and doing this work will change your life. I can’t wait for you to get started so I can teach you everything! Head over here to get your copy

Apply for Free Coaching!

Thank you so much for listening and being an amazing mama that listens to parenting podcasts! I absolutely love connecting with other moms during the Real Coaching with Randi monthly segment and share their story. If you would like to get some free coaching on a future episode, head over to and hit the Apply button.

Get my book!

Hear about my family history and the tools that have helped me replace old parenting patterns that simply don’t work with these puzzling kiddos. It’s my way of paying it forward as a human that wants our kids to experience a kinder and more generous world. Head over here to get your copy

Thanks so much for listening to the Mastermind Parenting podcast, where we support the strong willed child and the families that love them!

If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the share button in the podcast player above.

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.


0 (1s):
You’re listening to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast with Randi Rubenstein episode 50. Hey, podcast listeners. If you happen to have a strong-willed kid who is kind of pushing everyone of your buttons lately, I have a resource for you. I made you guys a free guide where you’re going to get some tools and tips and strategies to quickly get on the road to creating a happier household. I know you’re pulling your hair out. I wanted to make you something so you can start getting some quick wins and building some momentum. So if you want to grab your copy, just go to Mastermind Parenting dot com forward slash a free guide and hope you enjoy it.

1 (43s):
My name’s Randi Rubenstein and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast where we believe when your thoughts grow the conversations in your home flow.

0 (57s):
Hi guys, welcome to the show this week. I have an interesting topic that I want to talk to you about. And I titled it, it kind of something fun. I was thinking, what can the title This that would be catchy and resonate. And I had to teach our kids to speak for themselves without acting like Jerks like, doesn’t that just kind of nail it. We do. And why do we get so triggered when our kids speak to us and a curse tone, or they come across without having manors, or they forget their pleases in their, thank you. This isn’t the bottom line that we just want them to know how to go out into the world. How to communicate in a way where they show up from a place of, I haven’t been raised in a barn as my mom used to love to say, what were you raised in a barn too?

0 (1m 47s):
My brother put the toilet seat down. Like they’ve been raised in a way that they have manners. They show up from a place of showing others, respect, having respect for themselves and just knowing how to present. And that’s a lot of this change in the conversation is how do we, how do we show up and lead a conversation from a place of leadership where we really teach our kids how to communicate, how nothing is off limits, we can talk about anything and everything. We don’t have to be scared of a difficult conversation. We are, this is all about communication tools.

0 (2m 29s):
And that’s what life is about. Like, we are humans, we’re, we’re we’re pack animals. We are meant to communicate with each other, communicate effectively. And most of the time that people have some kind of upset or there’s some disagreement, it’s like a miscommunication. So we really want to teach our kids how to effectively communicate. And we want a model that, and if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, and you’ve probably me say, and if this is your first episode, welcome, but you’ve probably heard me say, as women, we have not been taught effective communication tools, right?

0 (3m 10s):
Like we’ve been taught Passive communication tools and saying things in kind of a sing-songy way. Okay. But all right. Okay. And asking permission in life. And when you say things too strongly, then people call you names and say, you have masculine energy and it’s a whole host of insult. But then we’re put into this role as moms, as Pack leaders, right? Like we’re human animals, we’re pack animals. And if you take it to a primal place, like we are in charge, we’re the leaders of the pack. And, and so, so much of the time. And so there are a little cave. People are looking at us going like help me feel safe in the world, help me feel grounded.

0 (3m 54s):
Let me know what the rules are. Let me know what the structure is. A, let me know that your, the one in charge, but don’t do it in a way that breaks my spirit. Like do it in a way where I feel super connected to you. And I also know that, like you got it, I get to be the kid I get to grow and develop in and evolve. The Do, all the things I’m supposed to do. And you’re going to be my soft place to land. You’re the Pack leader. And so, so that’s really ultimately what I teach is I teach like, how do we show up as the Pack leaders for our families? How do we effectively communicate? How do we lead the conversation?

0 (4m 35s):
How do we lean into the difficult conversations and how, and, you know, doing this, our kids learn by what we model way more than by what we say. So when we model all of this Assertive community communication, that’s how they learn how to be Assertive themselves. And so I love, I love that piece of it. And I want to just share, because I’m constantly looking for strategies and tools and tips to, to teach this to our kids and to help, you know, just to help us all, because I think we’re all working on this. And, and so, so I’ve, so with my youngest son, he’s kind of my one that I have worried about the most in terms of that assertive voice and speaking out for himself.

0 (5m 26s):
Cause he’s just kinda such a chill temperament. And he, he doesn’t make a big issue. Like he really doesn’t sweat the small stuff in life. And so there’s been a lot of times where over the years, he doesn’t stand on ceremony with people. And so he’ll just like, let certain things roll off his back in. So for the most part, I, I have not jumped into where you should do this, or you should do that. I have not jumped into a fixer mode with him because I did it so much with my oldest son and some, to some extent with my daughter. So, you know, third time’s a charm. I really mostly just act as a sounding board, listen to what he’s got to say, you know, validate empathize.

0 (6m 10s):
And he really does such a good job of finding his own answers and every once in awhile to get triggered. Cause he’s just letting like something roll off, has his bat kind of, but he’s venting to me and he’s telling me about something that, yeah, what happened. And I was like, well, maybe You, you know, maybe you can say this and this, or maybe what about this? And he normally he’ll take it in. And because when you don’t jump in to fix remode that much and you really do a lot of empathizing and listening our kids, they, they trust us. And so they are more open to listening to our suggestions. That’s when we get to that problem solving piece of the PRODUCTIVE conversation. So if you are having kind of an ongoing PRODUCTIVE conversation where you’re seeing their perspective, you’re actively listening a lot.

0 (6m 53s):
When you move into sharing your perspective and problem solving, they really are not, they’re really open to hearing it and they’re not resistant. And so I’ll offer my perspective. And most of the time I will say, yeah, I wouldn’t really say it like that. ’cause, he’s just kind of a nicer than I am. And I’ll, I’ll say, well, how would you say it? And then he’ll kind of tell me how he will say it. But I thought it was interesting because recently he’s almost 13 and he has this little spot on his face and it’s like a collection of some blood vessels that sometimes like you can have trauma to the face, like maybe he got hit by a ball or something. And so for a couple of years, he’s had this little discolored spot it’s kind of a pinkish on just tiny on his cheek.

0 (7m 39s):
And so it kind of was bothering him. So I was like, let’s go to the dermatologist and, and see if we could get that removed. So we would go to the dermatologist and she used a laser on it and it hurt. Like he got a, you know, he was like, ahh, you know, like it hurts. And so when we left, she said, you know, it may go away. He may need more than one treatment. Really the ideal laser would be this other kind of laser, but we can treat it with the laser that I have anyway, but it’ll just take several treatments. But I saw that he, you know, it hurt. So the next time I said, well, we can go back to the dermatologist and do you know, do you want to blow it off and just live with the spot? And he was like, no, I kind of want to get it taken off.

0 (8m 21s):
It was a, we can go back to the dermatologist, put it in to take multiple treatments. Are we could maybe go and check out where this other laser is and that’s more powerful and it might just be one and done. So he was like, well, he really wanted to go back to that dermatologist. But me being an instant gratification junkie kind of pushed him into trying out the other laser place. So we go to this other laser place. We go, we make an appointment, we go on a Saturday. It’s the last thing he wants to do. And he’s kind of like, ah, and we get there and he’s just criticizing. He was like, what is this place? Don’t even, you know, I don’t think I feel comfortable. And so I was like, well just check it out as a consultation.

0 (9m 2s):
If it’s not, if you’re not into it, then we’ll, it’s just, we’ll just get a consultation and we’ll leave. You won’t get it done. And he’s like, okay. So, but he knows, I really want to just knock this off the list. And he knows I want to get it done. So we go in and we meet with the people and she’s like, you know, it’s going to hurt, but chances are, it’s like one time and then it will be gone. It will be done. And I was like one time and it’s done, like, let’s do it. You know how to take deep breaths, like let’s power through this. And he was like, no, I don’t know. And I was like, you just wanna live with it? He was like, yup. And he got real kind of defiant. And I was like, are you sure? And he was like, yep. I’m not sure. So we go to leave and he was a tiny bit choked up when we left, because I think he felt like I was disappointed.

0 (9m 48s):
I was a little disappointed. And he says, and so he, he he’s got, he was defensive. And he was like, and I didn’t say anything. He said, I can’t believe you wanted me to get it done there. I wasn’t even comfortable. And he started saying all the things that the doctor had said, and he said, not placing would be sketchy. And I didn’t even think of it, you know? But anyway, he was going to all of these places of it seems sketchy. So we get in the car and I looked at him and I said, I know, you know that I wanted to get it done. And I’ve done. You know, I look, I did laser hair removal. I’m very comfortable with lasers. That’s me. And I have a super high pain tolerance I said, and you know how we look, we talk about finding your voice and using your assertive voice and speaking up for yourself.

0 (10m 35s):
And we’ve been talking about that for a few years. I said, well, let me tell you something, what you just did in there was exactly the thing we’ve been working on. If I were to be upset with you, when you just advocated for yourself and your body and you advocated, you know, for yourself, with me, with your own mom, like, do you understand how hard that is to do that? And you did it with me. And, and it was like, mom, just because your comfortable, you know, are you going wherever and doing the laser stuff around your body? This is my body and I’m not coming. And so you spoke of it for yourself and you did it with me.

0 (11m 16s):
Like that took so much courage. You just exemplified exactly what we’ve been working on it. Okay. And so, you know, so he felt good about it. And that was kind of, you know, that I thought that that was a good example of me saying like, we can agree to disagree. I would have been comfortable there, but it’s not my body. And you spoke up for yourself way to go. So, so that is kind of how I’m teaching the assertiveness strategies and my family. Now I want to back it up too. How do you teach little kids to start speaking up for themselves in a respectful and Assertive way?

0 (12m 0s):
And one of the things that I often teach in my Sibling fighting tool is whoever the, the one in the Sibling fight that’s appears to be the victim. I always teach you, help the victim develop sort of language. So let’s say one kid goes and smacks. The other kid or one kid goes and grabs something away from the other kid. And the other kid starts crying. Like the one who kind of seems like they are more in the victim roll. I say kind of ’cause usually it takes two to tango. So you never know what happened five minutes ago, but in this moment you have this child that’s crying.

0 (12m 41s):
It just in some way, had something taken from them or felt violated in some way. And so when you go up to that victim, you always, I always teach that you are going to say, so what happened? And you find out what happened. And then you say, you say, did you like it was that okay with you? And usually that child would look at you and they would say no. And you’ll say so when someone does something like that, you say, I don’t like it when I don’t like it. When you grab that car away, please give it back. Now. I don’t like it. When you hit me, please tell me when you’re mad at the area upset. I don’t like it when, and that is how we teach that as sort of language.

0 (13m 21s):
When they’re a little like advocate for yourself, speak up for yourself, ask for, you know, ask for the behavior. People treat you the way you teach them to treat you so advocate for yourself and teach them. I don’t like it when and speak up. That’s that’s the sort of language one-on-one. Then there was another example where my friend, she is a psychotherapist and her name is Dr. Kelly Watts. And she was telling me a story about her son, how she told me this really cute story about how they had been on a town. And he had the, where they were, there was some nail Polish and she doesn’t typically keep nail Polish in the house.

0 (14m 4s):
And he was around, I think she said he was around four or four and a half at the time. And he saw all of us nail Polish. And he was like, Oh, will you paint my nails? And so she painted his nails and they come back from the weekend and they are, you know, just busy working mom. She has a very S you know, full, successful practice here in Houston. And she says, she says, we are driving to school. And all of a sudden he starts freaking out and he’s like, Oh no, Oh no, Oh no. She’s like, what’s wrong. What’s wrong? And he like a nail Polish. It’s still on. So she said, when they got to school and they got to a stopping place, she took them out of the car. And he sat on the little hood of her car.

0 (14m 45s):
And she said, she got him to calm down. And she said, tell me what you’re worried about. What are you worried? And he, he expressed to her that he was worried he was going to get made fun of like, even not four and a half. This a little boy. I knew that nail Polish is not something that boys typically put on their nails. And he said, I’m, I’m S I’m afraid. However, he said it, I’m afraid. They’re going to make fun of me. Or, or the other boys are going to make fun of me. And, and so she, she kind of, she asks him some more questions and, and basically what they got to was that he knew that other boys wood, he said, I think though, think that nail Polish is for girls.

0 (15m 26s):
And she said, well, what do you think? And he said, I think she said, he said something like that. Well, I didn’t want to look like a girl. I was a power ranger and it was a red power ranger. And so I wanted to have even red nails to match being a red power. Enjoy she goes, Oh, so you don’t think nail polishes for girls. And he said, no, nail Polish can be for power Rangers too. And he said, yes. And she said, well, you know what you say? Then when, if anybody were to say anything, you know what you say? He said, know what she said, that they say nail Polish is for girls. As you say, I disagree. And she taught him those simple words.

0 (16m 5s):
I disagree. I’m a power ranger. And I have red nails because read power and eight Rangers have red nails. I disagree with you nail Polish. Isn’t just for girls. That’s for power Rangers. Do so she’s a vast forward. He’s almost six now. And something recently happened. And, and one of the kids said some was making fun of him for something or said this, you know? And or so he was like, I don’t know. There was some kind of argument going on. And she said, her son said, I disagree. And so she taught him those two simple words. Like, this is what you say. Someone’s making fun of you. You have a voice, you get to say, I disagree.

0 (16m 48s):
You don’t have to make that person wrong. You can just assertively stand up for yourself. I disagree. And I thought I said to her, I said, I think I’m going to put this in one of my Podcast. Cause this was so good. And I’d been wanting to make a podcast about teaching our kids, how to assertively communicate. Because when you learn how to assertively communicate, now, a lot of people define assertiveness with aggressiveness and it’s not a assertiveness is seeing what you mean, meaning what you say and not saying in an aggressive tone, like not saying, you’re wrong. I disagree. You’re wrong. And this is why I disagree is aggressive. But just saying, I disagree. You have your point of view.

0 (17m 29s):
I have my point of view. That’s a Assertive communication. So any time we just show up from a place of that true assertiveness, In in our Parenting we assertively say to our kids, it’s bath time. It’s bath time. We’re not saying it’s bad time. OK. Or this needs to happen. Okay. We’re saying it’s bath time. Do you want to walk to the app? Or do you want to go on a piggyback? You know, and we, and we give them two choices, but we assertively state what is going to happen. And we’re not asking for permission. We’re not, there’s no room to negotiate. They’re, we’re just assertively saying that we’re not seeing it in an aggressive way.

0 (18m 10s):
We say things automatically in an aggressive way. The other person naturally, no matter what age they’re going to want to go to town and battle with us. Cause, cause it feels aggression feels controlling and no one wants to feel controlled. But when someone shows up and speaks their mind in an Assertive way, it feels like you respect them. You’re like, that’s a, person’s not going to mess with, but that’s a person who has respect for Themselves has respect for others. And like, that’s not somebody I’m going to walk all over. But I also like I get it. I kind of like, like, Oh, that person’s got some street cred. So that is the point.

0 (18m 50s):
I think when we really show up assertively and keep practicing and learning how to certainly communicate, we modeled this for our kids. And when we model this for our kids and we help them to learn the skills from a sort of communication, they don’t show up as jerky people. They’re not like they know how to effectively express themselves. Cause anyone that asks jerky out in the world, they really, you really do it because they, in some way feel powerless and they don’t know how else to get their message across or get their needs met without trying to power over other people and, and, and be jerky and aggressive.

0 (19m 31s):
They don’t know better communication tools and skills. So that’s what I’ve got for you today. I think this is a super important skill to foster in ourselves and in our kids. And it’s a big piece of changing the conversation, your home, and truly showing up from a place where we’re a family that can talk about anything and everything have a great week.

1 (19m 58s):
The podcast listeners, if you’re ready to take this, learning to the next level and get some accountability and some handholding, I encourage you to schedule a call with me and hop on my calendar and to do that. All you need to do is go to Randi Rubenstein dot com board slash discovery. That’s Randi Rubenstein dot com slash discovery. Can’t wait to connect with you.

Happy Household Cover

Sign Up for Our Newsletter and Get Our Free Guide

Creating A Happier Household

by Randi Rubenstein