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Randi Rubenstein

Punishment's is Really Parent Bullying

Punishment is Really Parent Bullying

By Parenting the Strong Willed Child
Punishment's is Really Parent Bullying

Many of us silently speak to ourselves when we make a mistake using harsh words.

“I’m such an idiot” or “That was so stupid.”

That negative inner dialogue is a part of our programming. It comes from the belief that we were bad or naughty when we made a mistake as a kid.

That is what kids conclude when you stick them in a corner or hit them. One hurts emotionally and one hurts physically.

Why on earth would a child trust the person who hurts them?

Of course, some teens that are raised with this method retaliate by shutting us out, lying or worse.

Others just take part in LOTS of risky behavior. I’ve even seen a wave of parents who permit or even JOIN them – yup, partying together, as a way to finally bond. Pretty effed up.

One of my amazing Mastermind Mamas shared an article with me knowing that I’d love it.

The article talked about the effects of early childhood punishment on the all too common distant or combative parent teenage relationship.

Punishment is really parent bullying in my opinion. Consequences when used CORRECTLY are the much better replacement to help a child learn an important lesson.

Unfortunately most parents are still attempting to control their kids with old school punishment while slapping the term consequences on it.

Just bc you name a cat “Dog” and every time you call it, you say here “doggy doggy” won’t make that cat a dog.

It will always be a cat regardless of it’s name. A “consequence” that involves fear or physical pain is a punishment.

Punishment may shut something down in the moment but doesn’t teach a child to improve future behavior.

It teaches them to lie to you, not to trust you and to speak unkindly to themselves silently.

Getting curious about what’s at the root of the “big feelings” when the little people act out rather than hitting or banishing them, is the only HUMANE way to begin to help a child.

We have to get underneath the behavior to help our kids improve it without negatively impacting them long term on the inside.

Bottom line: Our world has changed. There’s a better way to raise kids that supports them in becoming healthy, happy and successful. AND it doesn’t cause them to hate you or themselves.

I want it for all the little people shoved in corners out there.

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by Randi Rubenstein
Let's Discuss Parenting The Teenagers

Let’s Discuss Parenting The TEENAGERS!?!

By Parenting the Strong Willed Child No Comments
Let's Discuss Parenting The Teenagers

Click play to learn more about Mastermind Parenting Teenager program.

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by Randi Rubenstein
The Story Beneath the Surface

The Story Beneath the Surface

By Parenting the Strong Willed Child No Comments
The Story Beneath the Surface

Recently, I was chatting with one of my best friends.

My friend made a simple comment that really fired me up.

She said, “Oh while you’re probably writing a book and helping with world peace, I’m over here wasting my day away with hair and eyelash appointments”.

Sidenote: Her glam eyelashes make her look and feel like a movie star – truly fab!

And she likes to wear her naturally curly hair straightened – no small feat in humid Houston, Texas!

So basically, my friend was caught up in what I like to call, the story of “compare and despair”.

Within this story, our words are never kind and loving to ourselves.

In fact, in this story we are both the hero and the villain.

And guess who always wins the compare and despair battle?

You guessed it…the villain of unworthiness.

I. Was. Not. Having. It.

You see, my friend may look like she’s living a life of hair and eyelash appointments…

But I know the “behind the scenes” real story of her life.

My dear friend’s mom passed away far too young, at the age of 56.

My friend took a sabbatical from college to come home and be with her mama.

They spent that last month of her mom’s life lying side by side in bed…mostly just talking.

My friend’s final memories with her mom involve warmth, presence and REAL convos.

They laughed. They cried. They spent that month loving each other.

My friend promised herself that when she became a mom, every day with her own kids, would be like that last month with her mom.

Her kids are now 16 and 19.

They are the kids we all wanna raise – kind, respectful and beautiful people.

They adore their sweet mom.

My friend shows up with true presence and unconditional love in all of her most important relationships.

She experienced every kid’s biggest fear…losing your mom.

It changed her I’m sure.

She has never taken a day with her kids for granted because of her loss.

So yes, she may spend some of her time lunching, hair straightening and eye lashing.

However, my friend is anything but superficial.

Because when you’re raising and shaping people with unconditional love and support, you are CHANGING. THE. WORLD.

Click here to join the conversation and community over on FB

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by Randi Rubenstein
the importance of rituals

The Importance of Rituals

By Parenting the Strong Willed Child
The Importance of Rituals

This beautiful bday ritual belongs to my dear lifelong friend and amazing Daddy, Jason Buchman

When you think back on your childhood, what memories typically stand out?

A special birthday dinner where your mom made your favorite dish?

Mine was my mom’s world famous chicken and eggplant parm.

My mom and dad had Italian neighbors when they were newlyweds and the two women taught each other how to make their favorite cultural delicacies.

I think my mom taught the Italian mama how to make chicken and matzoh ball soup.

Even the story behind my mom’s amazing Italian dishes was a part of the bday ritual.

Special rituals can add up to a lifetime of rich memories.

It might be a religious holiday tradition A nightly dinner ritual where everyone has their “assigned” seats A special Christmas cookie you bake with your kids or even better, have grandma bake with your kids:)A weekly or monthly family meeting followed by a fun family activity. A birthday tradition involving a special meal out or in A conversational question around the dinner table where everyone shares a fun fact about their day.

You can’t do it all.

Choose a few special rituals that feel fun for YOU.

Your kids will feel your enthusiasm, so do something that you enjoy too.

Rituals help tie the days, months and years together that without special rituals can often seem rather ordinary and uneventful in real time.

I promise that the extraordinary happens during the ordinary moments.

Ritualistic memories simply help you realize how beautiful your life has been raising your kids when you reflect back years from now.

Because years from now will be here in about a minute.

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3 Top Tips for Navigating Girl World

3 Top Tips for Navigating Girl World

By Parenting the Strong Willed Child
3 Top Tips for Navigating Girl World

Do you remember that exact moment when you found out you were pregnant with your daughter? I sure do.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love love love my boys.

However, I have to admit that the mother daughter bond is different.

And I know it sounds like crazy town, but shortly after the bills were paid from the initial pink shopping spree,  I secretly began to worry about the mean girl years down the road.

I even read the book Reviving Ophelia  and Queen Bees and Wannabes while I was still pregnant with my now 17 year old daughter.

Without realizing it, I was already researching how to protect my  baby girl from the “Girl World” years ahead.

And the truth is,  I think we’re all kidding ourselves if we don’t admit that “Girl World” never truly goes away.

I think this is why it’s so incredibly triggering for us as girl moms. Navigating “Girl World” is painful business at every age.

Soooo, here are my Top 3 Tips for Navigating Girl World To Come Out On Top:

1. Listen Instead of Fixin’

If your daughter is the unlucky recipient of the girl drama this week, I want you to begin supporting her by taping your mouth shut.  You heard me Mama…check yourself and zip it.  Allow your girl to say or not say whatever is on her mind. Sit with her. Hold her hand. Rub her arm. Just be. This is called “holding space”. Nothing feels more generous and loving than when someone does this for you when you’re upset.

Instead of asking questions, I want you to say VERY little. If your daughter spills the beans and gives you the scoop, simply listen and reflect back her own words. Offer NO advice or possible theories in an attempt to “happy her up” or fix the situation. Be upset. Be angry. But mostly just BE.

2. Say Yes to the Invitation

You’re probably going to want to punch me in the face for saying this. Okay, here goes. This is actually the time to clean up your  old “Girl World” wounds.

Anytime we find ourselves “seeing red” about the party our daughter wasn’t invited to or the frenemy that talked behind her back, it’s truly an invitation for more self awareness (even though we may secretly want to hunt that little creep down along with her super creepy  mother.)

Trust me, I get it. Really I do. However, it will help your daughter way more if you do the emotional adult thing right now. Sigh.

So think back to a time when you experienced being excluded or had your feelings hurt by another girl? I want you to really “go there” in your mind and relive it. It will help you in the next step.

3.  Connect rather than Direct

When  your daughter feels like you  truly “get” it, she will feel more connected to you than ever before. So go “there” with her.

Share YOUR story rather than asking her questions like, “Well who was invited? Did you do something to upset her?” And for the love of God, please hear me on this…DO NOT CALL THE OTHER MOM.

Ya, those questions and overstepping  will result in your daughter feeling even worse. She will worry that you’re worried and will feel like a loser.  This will probably cause her to keep secrets and shut you out. I bet you already know this. Don’t worry, we’ve all done it.

Put all of your energy into connecting with her and sharing similar stories of yuckiness. Tell her your version of queen bee “Beth Ann Hewlett” from 7th grade as well as that embarrassing story from last week when you were the only one excluded from so and so’s 40th birthday lunch – even though she actually sucks and you wouldn’t have gone anyway, it still left you with a pang in your tummy.

Sit in the metaphorical mud next to your girl. Focusing on connecting rather than “directing”  is what your sweet girl needs.

Let her know she’s not alone.

When you communicate with your daughter from a place of empathy, you will both not only get through these years, you will grow stronger together. By following these 3 steps, Listen Instead of Fixin’, Say Yes to the Invitation and Connect Rather than Direct, you’re able to handle any mean girl situation thrown your way. You guys will use this to grow even closer and will feel more connected than ever.

Connection is also a HUGE confidence builder and guess what…mean girls usually leave the confident ones alone. Connection and confidence will protect your girl on the front lines of Girl World.

Only. Every. Single. Time.

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who's raising the mean kid?

Who’s raising the mean kid?

By Parenting the Strong Willed Child
Whos raising the mean kid

You know THAT kid.

The one who says sh!t that hurts your kid’s feelings.

It’s so hard to understand mean behavior.

Especially when your kid gets blasted in the crossfire.

I mean…we don’t want to think of the mean kid as an actual child.

It comes so much easier to think of that 9 year old as a little sociopath.

We go to all sorts of places in our mind that no mature adult wants to admit.

It’s like that scene in This Is 40 when Leslie Mann tells off Melissa McCarthy’s 12 yr old son for cyber bullying her daughter.

I loved that scene. I’ve dreamt of that scene many times.

When some kid tells my son he sucks at soccer. Or when my daughter gets the shaft from a friend that no longer thinks she’s cool this week.

I wanna give those little turds a piece of my mind the way Leslie did.

But when I calm the eff down and get back into my thinking brain, I remember all the things.

The theories backed by science and child development research that I’ve learned over the last 20 years.

“Kids do well if they can.” ~Dr. Ross GreeneScreen Shot 2018-09-07 at 3.13.31 PM.png

Mean kids that hurt other kids, feel hurt inside themselves.

As I’ve told my kids time and time again…happy people don’t spread misery.

Mean behavior is a sign of inner misery.

Someone in pain.

Knowing this helps take mean behavior impersonally.

And eventually compassion takes over.

You gotta be pretty self aware and frankly, healthy, to find compassion for someone that behaves like an a-hole towards you.

This goes for parents too.

When we learn to see “mean” or strong willed  behavior in our kids as their inner reflection rather than making it about us…

Empathy and healing happen.

This. Is. The. Solution.

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Kids are more alive outside

Kids are More Alive…Outside

By Parenting the Strong Willed Child
Kids are more alive outside

This spring, we went on a family ski vacation in Colorado where the days were sunny, the snow was fluffy and the smell of marijuana was plentiful. Oh Colorado…why have you made being the parent of a teenager even harder. And more importantly, why didn’t you pass this law thirty years ago? I’m sort of just kidding.

In our regular life, my family lives in the concrete jungle of Houston Texas. Houston earned the fattest city in America title a few years back. Impressive, right?

No, Houston doesn’t have a multimillion dollar ad campaign, (that I know of), attracting the couch potatoes of the world. It can be difficult to be active in a fresh air sort of way in H-town.

The weather is hot, humid and mosquito-ey much of the year. Well let’s just say, it’s not exactly a paradise situation for those of us who enjoy being outdoors.

I love fresh air and sunshine. I crave it. My husband loves sports like surfing and snowboarding rather than working out or going to a gym. I dream of sunny “un-buggy” California days where we could eat every meal al fresco and basically live life outside surrounded by dogs, kids and a sense of freedom.

The freezing cold buildings leave me with a constant feeling of damp discomfort during the excruciating summer months. The minute I enter a sixty seven degree air conditioned building, the hair on my legs begins to grow back from the goose bumps. Okay I’m exaggerating a little. I had the hair lasered off my legs years ago. If you haven’t jumped on that depilatory train, what the heck are you waiting for!

Alright, enough about hair removal. And complaining about Houston weather. And admitting to having a major case of geography envy. The truth is, we do wish we lived somewhere more beautiful and more conducive to an active outdoor lifestyle. I know that kids thrive outside…exploring in nature, playing with friends, using their imaginations. As a result, we do spend a good amount of time heading out of town and hitting scenic spots where we can unplug and well, breathe deeply.

But as my twelve year old son, Cory, said recently on a short scenic hike while visiting Colorado, “I would love to live here and get to explore all the time but I’d want my friends from Houston to be here with me.”

Being outdoors and exploring natural beauty is my family’s happy place. However, I find that it’s the people in your everyday environment that create the most memorable moments in your life. My family lives in a big city inhabited by a warm, friendly and colorful group of interesting humans.

Someone recently told me that Houston is the most ethnically diverse city in the world. I don’t even know how to fact check that but it sounds way more brag-worthy than the fat thing so I’m just going with that for now. As Cory said, “It would be great to combine Colorado with the friends we love back home”.

We adore the people that live in our concrete jungle. I live in Houston. I love to be outside. I walk my dogs during the heat of the summer. I commit to the sweat and showering more than once a day. It’s part of the deal and I smell good most of the time.

And if you are lucky enough to get both – beautiful outdoor scenery shared with a beautiful community of friends and family, well then, you my friend have truly hit the jackpot  in my book.

And remember, kids feel more alive when they make memories with people they love…outside.

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by Randi Rubenstein

Are we in a new season for parenting?

By Parenting the Strong Willed Child, Uncategorized No Comments
Are we in a new season for parenting?

Similar to the calendar, we humans cycle through different seasons in our lives.

A new season represents transition and change.

There are always pros and cons involved with change. The sunshine and lazy days of summer also come with mosquitos and excessive heat – well that’s the case in Houston anyway.

And even though the winter might involve skiing and snowmen, it can also be dreary, gray and depressing.

The same is true for new parenting seasons as well. Babyhood involves so many honeymoon moments.  AND it’s also known as baby boot-camp because it’s freaking exhausting!

There’s a reason sleep deprivation is used to torture prisoners of war. Legit!

Many of us excitedly anticipate our babies entering the toddler season.  Finally a full night of sleep.

And similar to the mosquitos of summer, toddlers are picky eaters who whine and have frequent meltdowns.

So how do we embrace  the new parenting season’s mosquitoes and heat?

I believe that most of our parenting challenges – bedtime battles, morning mayhem, power struggles and picky eating, can usually be linked to entering a new parenting season without a realistic plan.

Just like you wouldn’t head to the beach in Galveston during the month of July without loads of sunscreen and mosquito repellent, (can you tell how much I hate mosquitoes), what’s your  plan as you enter your new season with your kiddos?

And even though we didn’t wear sunscreen in the 70’s and 80’s or use bug repellent, those things are now the norm.

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If your kids ignore your simple requests, it might be time to evaluate your communication methods.  If it feels like your people don’t seem to listen until voices are raised and tempers flare, it’s because the outdated model for raising kids is not effective in this new season upon us.

Our world is very different. It’s a new season.

Let’s say you decide to wear your winter clothes in May because you grew up in Chicago and May in Illinois is still sweater weather.

Well now that you live in Texas, that beautiful cashmere sweater feels like pure sweaty misery if you wear it in May.

The seasons are very different in these two states.

Well the same is true for raising kids during the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and even the 2000’s.

The parenting wardrobe that was perfectly comfortable during those seasons are producing miserable results in your current seasonal environment.

The old parenting conversation, the way most of us were raised, was designed for a different season.  It was simply the way things were done back when.

The history of the old parenting model is rooted in a world where the objective was to raise compliant factory workers…be obedient, listen to authority and keep your mouth shut so you will grow up and have job security.

I have yet to meet a parent that dreams of their kid growing up to live a life wearing baby blue zip up jumpsuits and punching a time clock. No, no. We are raising innovators, thought leaders and problem solvers.

The old parenting conversation involved threats, rewards, punishment and bribes because that season for parenting in our country was preparing our kids for a simpler season.

A simpler world.

This new season involves a “new parenting conversation” where you’ll experience cooperation without aggression.

Have you ever worried that your harsh words are accidentally extinguishing your kid’s bright light?

This new productive parenting convo feels better for a reason. It involves empathy, teamwork and rich connection.

This is what will support the innovative thought leaders that our kids will grow up to be in our future season.

The new parenting conversation is fresh, friendly and progressive for the season of growth and innovation we live in right now. The future season is bright.

Embracing this new season for raising kids  is the equivalent to being the change you wish to see in the world.


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Randi helps parents, particularly ones with a strong willed kiddo, learn tools to raise confident, kind, and self motivated kids by improving the conversations in your family.

As the founder of  Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast and author of The Parent Gap, Randi helps parents keep cool and replace old patterns. Randi’s parenting motto is, “When our thoughts grow, the convos in our home flow”.

To learn more go to

Childhood Technology Addiction Epidemic

By Parenting the Strong Willed Child, Uncategorized No Comments
Childhood Technology Addiction Epidemic

In this episode, I discuss the documentary Screenagers and the silent screen addiction epidemic that we are facing as a society.

I had been wanting to attend a screening of Screenagers and was coincidentally invited to be a panelist at a private school in my home city. Needless to say, I had a pit in my stomach as I watched the reality of what we are facing in terms of screen addiction and how it affects our kids and ourselves, frankly.

The documentary validates much of what I teach when it comes to looking for a quick pleasure fix in the form of a screen. The movie includes the latest research in neuroscience and how screens affect our dopamine receptors in the same way as hard drugs. When our kids grow up on screens, we are literally hardwiring them for drug addiction. Super scary.

I happen to love technology myself. It’s the reason why I can create a podcast and share it with you. I struggle and worry about many of the issues mentioned in the film with my own kids so I could totally relate.  The conversation after the screening involved the feeling that we are immersed in uncharted territory when it comes to the effects of screens on our kids’ developing brains. Rules and regulations are needed and right now we are educating ourselves, increasing awareness and beginning the conversations that must happen to keep our kids safe in this new virtual reality surrounding their childhood.

Randi Book (1).jpg


I share my thoughts on how to handle adopting tech rules in your household as well as how to conduct a productive conversation with your kids about this uncharted subject matter. And as always remember that whether it’s technology, sleep, food, school work or whatever the subject concerning your family, the steps are to:

  1. Adopt a set of rules
  2. Repeat them often
  3. Follow through consistently.

Technology rules that are productively communicated is a great example of how to set your family up for success rather than constantly fighting about this very present modern issue. I share some of my own family rules and conversations about technology in this podcast.

Topics covered: 


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Randi helps parents, particularly ones with a strong willed kiddo, learn tools to raise confident, kind, and self motivated kids by improving the conversations in your family.

As the founder of  Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast and author of The Parent Gap, Randi helps parents keep cool and replace old patterns. Randi’s parenting motto is, “When our thoughts grow, the convos in our home flow”.

To learn more go to

The Time Out Alternative for Strong Willed Kids (and their siblings:)

The Time Out Alternative for Strong Willed Kids (and their siblings:)

By Parenting the Strong Willed Child, Uncategorized No Comments
The Time Out Alternative for Strong Willed Kids (and their siblings:)

In this episode, I discuss time-out; the punishment that many of us have used to replace spanking. We are often misguided to believe that it’s this progressive humane improvement when it’s potentially just as damaging emotionally as spanking is physically.

I know many parents are simply looking for resources to teach their kids the difference between right and wrong. The punishment model has rarely been questioned in years past and yet, all the researchers and experts tell us that it’s ineffective. It accomplishes the opposite of what we want – stronger connections with our kids and effective measures for teaching appropriate behavior. Punishments like time out and spanking are divisive, polarizing and teach our kids not to trust us.

One of my favorite new quotes that I coined recently is, “We don’t own our kids. Owning people is called slavery…not childhood.” Slavery is illegal. Our kids are little people.

Randi Book (1).jpg


Our job is to teach, guide and keep our little people safe. Punishment does not teach anything other than teaching our kids to lie to us and become sneaky when doing things that will result in a punishment. When we punish our kids rather than having productive communication, we teach them not to trust us.

The research and child development experts report that kids under the age of 12 do not change their future behavior based on punishment. They are actually incapable of doing so.

The REAL way we teach kids appropriate behavior is by establishing rules, repeating them often and following through consistently. When the rules are broken, we teach them how to become calm and calmly discuss the situation. When everyone is calm, we empathize and find out what’s underneath the misbehavior. Then we state the rules, set a boundary and possibly enforce a logical and related consequence. We follow through consistently.

This is the recipe that leads to changing the convos in your home even when your kids are behaving like total turkeys. Your welcome.

Topics covered: 


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Randi helps parents, particularly ones with a strong willed kiddo, learn tools to raise confident, kind, and self motivated kids by improving the conversations in your family.

As the founder of  Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast and author of The Parent Gap, Randi helps parents keep cool and replace old patterns. Randi’s parenting motto is, “When our thoughts grow, the convos in our home flow”.

To learn more go to