Skip to main content

Bonus Episode: Digging Deeper When Your Kid is Bullied at School

By June 29, 2021November 8th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast
Bonus Episode: Digging Deeper When Your Kid is Bullied at School

In this episode, I discuss how often our strong willed kids show up in ways that are problematic and when the most immediate issues are resolved, sometimes the deeper issues fall through the cracks.

On this episode, you’ll hear from a mom whose son was being bullied at school. I describe how this mom was able to help her son develop a critical “lagging skill” by becoming curious and going beyond the surface situation.

When we look deeper,  we can begin to help our kids gain new skills and ultimately feel more balanced in their bodies. When we can get to the root of the problem instead of focusing on only the superficial issue, we can then begin successfully supporting our kids.

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

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):
My name’s Randi Rubenstein, and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast at Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them. You’re listening to the masters, my parenting podcasts with Randi Rubenstein bonus episode for June. Well, hi guys, I’ve got a special treat for you today. It is a conversation between me and Lindsay Mastermind, Parenting mom. She is actually on my team. She has three boys and she had made a video of a situation that happened for her strong-willed child at school, and it actually involved bullying.

0 (45s):
And I thought it was a great, great episode because here she’s got a kid who for many years was showing up with a lot of, you know, unbalanced and dysregulated behavior. And he’s been doing great. You know, she, there was a time where she rarely saw a smile on his face, where they were walking around on eggshells around their house. And he quite often, he was hijacking the household. And over the last few years, she has really worked hard to connect with him more, understand him better, help him develop better skills and he’s, you know, doing well, doing really well.

0 (1m 33s):
I mean, she used to have bite marks on her arms. He was shut down. He was angry, angry, angry a lot of the time. And she’s like, I’ve got a happy boy. He’s smiling. He’s helpful. He’s loving. He is amazing plays well with his brothers. Like it, like, life’s so much to smooth a lot of the time. And then her happy little guy who goes to school willingly does this work. She gets good reports from the teacher. She, they find out he comes home and, and he lets them know there’s been some bullying.

0 (2m 17s):
Now he had been reporting some name calling in some situations at school and they had, this had been a conversation that they had been having. But the thing is, is that I think quite often with our kids that do have what we call lagging skills, you know, they’re not doing well. They’re showing up dysregulated, they’re angry. They have a lot of behaviors. And we start to use these new methods involving productive conversations and empathy and, and making sure his basic needs are met and, you know, holding him accountable. It’s been this ongoing process with him when they start to do well.

0 (2m 57s):
Sometimes we just sort of stop. We just stop getting curious or continuing to help them in ways that they need our help. And she knew, she knew he wasn’t particularly social at school. She knew that even though he likes to play with his brothers, it wasn’t necessarily making those friendships at school, but she didn’t really question it. Right. She didn’t really question it. And then this situation happens. And I think you’ll enjoy hearing about our conversation. I mean, through our conversation, I think you’ll enjoy hearing how it sort of went down because what she realized was, huh, I need to help him and other ways.

0 (3m 47s):
And even though he’s not showing up dysregulated all the time, he still has some lagging skills when it comes to social skills, really, really so enjoy this conversation. And you know, my intention in sharing this with you is really that I want you guys to dig deeper and realize that if your children, if your children seem like they don’t really have a friend to turn too, you know, it’s not about going and helicoptering and orchestrating play dates.

0 (4m 29s):
It’s really about thinking why, what are the behaviors that could possibly be turning other kids away? And how can I support my child in developing this next skill set? Because ultimately, you know, even a kid that is doing much better than they were, no kid wants to live on an island by themselves. No human does like we are. We’re meant to live in PAX. We are meant to no, that we have our people that we belong to. So when you go to school and you’re a little kid and you don’t feel like you really have a friend, you know, it’s, it’s lonely and it’s going to, it’s going to leave you feeling somewhat unbalanced in your body because you are going to feel isolated.

0 (5m 29s):
And you know, when we can show up for them and help them to develop better social skills, right. We can help them buy by starting to get curious and really looking at the behaviors beyond the surface. That’s what they need from us. So hope you get some good ideas from this episode.

1 (5m 50s):
So Lindsay made a video yesterday about an incident that her son is going through at school and what’s going through at school. And you know, one of those situations of like him being bullied, a group of kids calling him names, he had been coming home telling mom, they say, I’m a slow runner. They say, you know, calling the names, then it turns out he got a bunch of apology notes because one day say what it was one of the moms, one of the kids put a note on his back.

2 (6m 25s):
They stuck a piece of paper on his back to, he didn’t know it, that said dumbed down.

1 (6m 32s):
Okay. That said dumdum. So the teacher saw it. So somebody must have taken it off before he even realized it was there.

2 (6m 41s):
You know, I’m not sure I haven’t actually talked to the teacher. It happened in our class when there was a substitute. But then once they got back to home room, I’m assuming that the teacher had the kids write these letters of apology.

1 (7m 3s):
So all of a sudden he comes home with a bunch of letters of apology. And, and so like the teacher was on it. You know, the teacher sounds like she was on it and naturally, and he talks to dad about it. And naturally dad goes into Papa bear mode. Right. And, and is emailing everybody. And, and you were kind of like, I actually liked that you allowed that to happen, even though you knew it, wasn’t gonna ultimately support your kid or empower your kid. I’m glad that you let that happen.

1 (7m 44s):
And you didn’t like, like you let dad, you know, handle it the way he wanted to handle it. And then you sort of came in the way a true mastermind mom does a grounded grownup does at the end of the day. And you ultimately diffuse the drama. The problem is that we can’t be everywhere with our kids all the time. So conflicts are going to arise and unfair things are going to happen. And ultimately what I like to, you know, look at it like, what, how can I support my kid in this moment?

1 (8m 25s):
But also in future moments, where is this an opportunity to learn something? And so ultimately, you know, we want to empower the injured party. And so once you got out of freeze mode and you talk yourself off the ledge, you had a conversation with Daniel, right? What, what happens?

2 (8m 49s):
So like the original apology letters came that’s when the principal and the were emailed from David, the principal called the kids that did it, their parents, Amanda, Jesus, like so much future bullying. I could imagine coming, not bullying, but just, you know, I’m sure anyway, we’ll get to that. But the next day after the original letters, the ringleader guy who is rude, according to Daniel, the most wrote one more letter. And he’s like, I’m really sorry that I’ve been doing this for the past few years.

2 (9m 30s):
I guess they were in class together last year. And, and the letter, you know, it was funny because Daniel had showed only David. And then once Dana went upstairs, David showed me in any way, the L in the letter and the second letter, it said, I just don’t like it. When you tell on me. And I read that. And I was like, I went from hamster wheel to automatic clarity because I was curious about the why, right? Like, I’m about what caused this letter.

2 (10m 14s):
I imagined if there was kids being rude to him, there was a reason. And I wasn’t. And I, and I wasn’t sure. And I was kind of just like hamster reeling, like, and going into freeze. And I saw that. I was like, oh my goodness. And it just clicked that what’s happening at home, which is my Daniel kind of ratting out his brothers and reporting on what they’re doing or not doing all the time.

1 (10m 50s):
I was like the example of what he did this just this morning, about this morning,

2 (10m 57s):
Ben was brushing his teeth and the bathroom downstairs. And we were like loading up to leave. And Daniel’s like, then I got this $1 from our bath and they share a bathroom upstairs. I got it on the counter. Ben’s like, why are you checking? My money is like, you shouldn’t leave it out. Why are you leave it out? And Ben’s like, rushing us to you then kind of arguing back, like giving you my money back. And Danielle was like, you shouldn’t leave it out. He picked up his baseball cards. He’s like, look, I got your baseball cards too. I guess you don’t really want these either. And I was like, dude, do you know, why are you, this is not your business. And he said, I’m trying to teach him not to leave his things out.

2 (11m 39s):
Which is interesting because he, his room is like the messiness out of everybody’s like he leaves his room is like it, if let be, would be like an episode of hoarders, if we didn’t pay attention to it every once in a while. But yeah, he was in Ben’s business trying to teach Ben lessons, which I’m like, it makes perfect sense what’s going on at school because that’s what he does. That’s, that’s how he responds all the time. And because he’s doing so well and just so happy and thriving and independent, and he’s just come out of Defence zone.

2 (12m 31s):
You no, we addressed it on a very basic level. Like not your business, not your business, but it never, nothing was, nothing was changing. And so both David and I both agreed. We were like, although this was crappy that all this went down, this was our big aha of what we really need to support him with because he is a black and white thinker. He is more likely to trim up with teachers and adults, camp counselors versus kids, because it’s easier for him and associates socially.

2 (13m 13s):
I think he doesn’t have to work so hard. He trusts adults more. And so I could see him, you know, almost connecting that way with the adult in the classroom, reporting on all the other kids. And so it just kind of made perfect sense. You were saying, so

1 (13m 33s):
This is where I say it’s a conflict is always an opportunity. There’s something to be learned. There’s some kind of growth. Now, this is not, I could hear people saying like, you can’t blame the victim. It’s like, it’s like the movie, the accused, you know, you can’t blame the girl for getting raped because she was dressed provocatively. You know, like, like that’s just not okay. And I completely agree with that. But what we want to do is we want to empower the injured. What that means is, is we want to empower them and we don’t want to fondel of victim narrative. And when we jump into solving and saving and not going deeper, right?

1 (14m 15s):
Not going deeper by getting curious, right. We just attack the surface issue and they might feel safe and protected in that moment because my dad called the principal and the teacher. And I can only, we would go to my dad.

2 (14m 30s):
He actually asked him to, he asked, he’s like, I’ve tried using my words. I’ve tried saying I don’t like it when, and they’re still doing that,

1 (14m 43s):
Which I w I have to say, I actually think it is, it was good to have some teacher involvement here and adult involvement, and that the kids were held accountable and had to write letters. I think that was, that was a piece of this equation and of solving this problem. And if we just stop there, we make our kids feel safe in this moment, but we don’t help them with the skills to keep them safe in the next moment. So shifting into curiosity and going to that place of what else is going on here, you know, all, all behaviors, communication, these kids were acting like, you know, turds for sure, like putting an dumdum sticker on his back.

1 (15m 27s):
Like, that’s just not cool. You hadn’t

2 (15m 29s):
Read that letter from the kid. I don’t know if I would have made the big aha that I did. I mean, I was just in my own blind spot. And one more thing is if he hadn’t felt so safe to a while, David, and to tell him these things, I mean, that’s, you know, that safety wasn’t always there between him and us. So I feel like that is such a big part of this too, because a lot of times, if they don’t feel safe, he would of just kept it all in. And just none of us would have ever,

1 (16m 11s):
You would have just showed up and it continued to date of dysregulation and not in, and you know, this is the thing is like, he’s a, he’s a kid. He doesn’t have a fully developed brain. So he would’ve had, you know, a day at school, he wasn’t connecting the dots, other kids, or maybe, you know, you know, not befriending him. He’s feeling alone. He’s buddying up with the teachers. He’s having his love cup filled there, but deep down, he wants to have the buddy that’s his age, but it’s not happening. And so he would probably like, you know, wear armor, like many of us learned to do whenever we do, any of us have not felt when any of us have ever felt other, you know, it feels terrible to feel other.

1 (16m 56s):
And so we, we armor up and we, you know, quite often when people are like, I don’t care, I don’t need, I don’t even want friends. I’m fine. You know, that’s armor. And so it’s, it comes from anytime you had that sense of belonging, you know, that need wasn’t mad. And so he would have just continued to, to thick in his armor and probably, you know, continue many years of not having close friends. So what this whole scenario is doing is it’s going to help you, help him to not need to armor up or feel other, to help him truly work on what was at the root, what was underneath, you know, there’s more to the equation.

1 (17m 49s):
These kids showed up, you know, acting, acting creepy. And why, why, why did they want to be creepy to Daniel? What about it? Well, bam, there were here’s this letter and this kid actually says it. So, so the kid says, you know, I don’t like when you tell on me, okay, we’ll we get that understandable. So now let’s go a layer deeper. Why is Daniel telling on everyone? Why is he reporting well, that’s you? I don’t know. That’s one of the one wonder

2 (18m 23s):
I have, like, why does he do that?

1 (18m 26s):
But here’s the thing. We go through solving any problem through their eyes swings. When we invest we’re in the investigation, we want to jump into making them station communication and, and, and, and consequences because we want to teach ’em. We wanted to solve the problem. We want to teach him, you know, a better skill-set. The problem is we are not done investigating so more to be investigated. You just said something that, that, that made my brain go. Hmm. That’s interesting. Common enemy intimacy. As Bernay brown calls it, you know, wear you bond with another person by having a common enemy.

1 (19m 7s):
Can you believe that person did that now? I can’t believe that person. And all of a sudden it’s like instant connection. It’s one of the, the what’s it’s like a fast track way to connect with someone else. You know, you meet someone. I tell this to my kids all the time, especially Corey who really, really cannot stand. He wants to connect with other people just on, in a, like in a real authentic way. So anytime somebody tries, somebody talks bad about somebody else. It gets, it just gets his goat. And not like he can’t like, he gets annoyed by people too. But like when somebody, you know, is trying to connect with him by bagging on someone else, Corey’s like, he hates it.

1 (19m 52s):
And so I’ll say to him, you know, it doesn’t mean that person’s a bad person. It just means that they like you. They want to connect with you. And one of the easiest ways people connect with other people is by finding a common enemy, you know, air quotes, somebody else they can both back on together. So you just have to, you just have to steer the conversation. And instead of like, instead of thinking, what’s wrong with them, why are they being so negative? Why are they talking about this other person? Instead? I want you to think they really like me. They really want to be friends with me and they don’t know how to do it. So you’re like, yeah, I don’t know. I haven’t really seen that.

1 (20m 32s):
Hey, what was that show? You were talking about, you turn it into you to some other unifying force for you guys to bond over. And, but in terms of Daniel, he may be at school and he’s figured out when I feel alone and I don’t feel welcomed by the other kids wanting to play with me, these teachers, these grownups, they really will. And if I go and I’m being helpful and I’m letting them know, and since he’s a black and white thinker, I’m letting them know when kids are breaking the rules, I’ll be the home monitor. And there I can feel seen and worthy and valuable, and then they’ll want to connect with me and hang out with me.

1 (21m 18s):
He might be feeling during his day, he’s going about life. You know, what’s one of the things that causes a person to feel unbalanced in their nervous system and dysregulated. It’s a sense of loneliness. It’s a sense of, of, of, of not a feeling. Other of not belonging, it can be, it can feel terrible. Looking at all the other kids who were partnering up during a project, or who always have a place to sit at lunch, or who always have somebody to go play with on the playground. And here you are walking alone. That can cause a person to definitely feel dysregulated in their body.

1 (21m 59s):
So he goes to, to create a sense of, you know, balance and feeling regulated and, and, and like he belongs. And he’s had a coping strategy of bonding with the big people when I tell you what you need to do. Right. And I don’t know what example you could maybe think of, but something that I think you need to do, but you haven’t realized that you need to do it yet. And I’m just telling you what you need to do, telling you what you need to do. Are you usually like, thanks, mom, that was healthy desk, right?

1 (22m 38s):
Clean your desk, organize your room, get your things in order. If I tell you to do those things, do you ever find that helpful? You know, see if you can maybe have this conversation with him and allow him to kind of connect the dots of so often when we want to be helpful, or if we love people. And we want to just tell them all of the things I feel this way, all the time as a mom, they don’t want our help. They’re not ready to receive it. So we have to like stay in our own lane and be in our own business and remind ourselves, you know, is it their business? Is it our business? If it’s not your business, even when you want to be helpful, you have to just put the duct tape over your mouth and seal your lips and realize that person is not going to receive your help.

1 (23m 29s):
They’re just going to find the helpfulness annoying. They’re not going to be able to receive it.

2 (23m 36s):
Damn. It’s so freaking good.

1 (23m 40s):
So what can I do to help you? Cause we look, I could tell you all the time, not being helpful. When I hear you doing that

2 (23m 49s):
For like three years,

1 (23m 51s):
We would that feel helpful too. You Daniel. And he’s how does it feel when I do that? And he might look at you and you might say, not very helpful, right? So what could I do? This is the third part of productive conversation. What could I say? Could we have some kind of a code? Maybe it’s you don’t want to hear words. Maybe it’s maybe we have a sign that reminds you to walk away, take a breath and ask yourself whose business am I in, have that productive conversation with him? What and how questions help him come up with this solution? This is how you’re going to put the focus on the skill

0 (24m 29s):
Builder part. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. I had just a little update. Lindsay said that they came up with the code word, Ola, amigo, and recently she was giving me a little update and she said, yep. The other night we were sitting at dinner and all of a sudden he starts reporting. He says to his younger brother, your bathing suit, it’s on the counter. And she gave him her look. And then she just said the code term that they came up with, which she laughs because she got it wrong. She’s like Los Amigos, but it was really Ola, Amigos.

0 (25m 9s):
And he stopped, like he took a breath and he stopped. He kind of had a look on his face. Like he wasn’t, you know, cause this is what happens. We’re more wanting to control things on the outside. It’s because we feel out of control on the inside. And so it was hard. It took a lot of self-regulation for him to stop in that moment. But he did. And so she was telling me it totally worked. And I said, well, did you follow it up with some attaboys? She’s like, dammit, I forget the attaboys. Cause remember you guys, what we focus on grows. So, you know, we’re so prone to the human negativity, bias looking for all the things that are wrong, putting out the fires rather than relying on the teachings of positive psychology, which is retraining our brains to see the behaviors that we want, focus on those and then get more of that.

0 (26m 7s):
And that’s what attaboys do. So I say, make sure you solidify this progress. So you get more of it with some attaboys, like he controlled his body. So she went back to him and she said, the other night, you really control of your body. When you know, I said the, the thing and you were telling Ben about the bathing suit and you stopped yourself. Like that can be really hard to do. And you did it like you just wanted to be helpful. You want our household to run smoothly. You know what? Bathing suits on the counter. Aren’t where the bathing suits go. So you really want it to be helpful. And it wasn’t your business. You stayed in your business, you controlled your body.

0 (26m 48s):
It’s awesome. And he turned to her and he goes, you said the wrong thing. She’s like, what did I say? He said, you said Los Amigos and hits Ola, Amigos. She didn’t sweat the small stuff. She was like, Ugh. I said the wrong thing. And you still did it. You still stayed in your business way to go. And she said, he did the little conceal his smile. He was all proud of himself. Now you guys listen. And attaboy is just that like allowing him to feel that sense of accomplishment. He controlled his body quite often because many of us were raised with what’s in it for me, the carrot dangling out.

0 (27m 31s):
She didn’t say, now we’re going to go get ice cream. She didn’t say now, what can I buy you? What can I give you? She just allowed him to feel that sense of pride and accomplishment that he controlled his body. And that was the reward that was the intrinsic reward. And he did feel proud of himself. You know, this is hard. This is, it sounds so simple, right? But this is the retraining of your brain so that you can show up and help your children develop better skills, especially our most dysregulated ones. That’s what they need from us. So if you’re having trouble doing this by yourself, please reach out to us.

0 (28m 14s):
We have the most amazing programs and the most amazing team, including Lindsay who’s on our team, go to Mastermind, Parenting dot com. Look at our offerings. We have three you can choose from and reach out to us to work with us. Just go to Mastermind, Parenting dot com and you’ll see exactly how you can work with us.

Happy Household Cover

Sign Up for Our Newsletter and Get Our Free Guide

Creating A Happier Household

by Randi Rubenstein