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285: I’m So Ugly! How Can You Handle Kids’ Insecurities?

When our kids are talking down about themselves, of course our first instinct is to push back. But even though we say “you’re so beautiful,” or “you’re so smart,” or “you’ll get better if you practice,” the message we send is “I’m not listening and understanding your experience.” If you want to know the secret to tackling your kiddo’s insecurities without undermining their agency and self-determination, this ep is for you! I just coached one of my fabulous Mastermind moms through this, and I know you’ll be inspired by how she stepped up for her child.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The tools you can use to reorient your child’s perspective when they’re feeling bad about themselves. 
  • Why it’s so much more important to listen than to argue with a kid who’s struggling with their self-worth.
  • How insecurities that are papered over with praise can turn into meanness.

And much more! 

As always, thanks for listening. Head over to Facebook, where you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community. We post tips and tools and do pop-up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!

About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

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Randi Rubenstein: [00:00:00] 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. Hi everyone. How are you this week? Well, I have a subject matter that I think will affect most of you and it has to do with physical appearance. Okay. Physical appearance of our kids, our own physical appearance, maybe, insecurities that we’ve had. 

I remember when I gave birth to my daughter and she came out and where my boys very much look like they come from me and my gene pool. My daughter looked very different from me since birth. She’s built more like my husband. She came out, where I have always been tall [00:01:00] and, I was always like when I was a kid, I was always in like the 80th percentile or, always, I was always in the back row. I was, I never got to be like one of the tiny cute girls or that’s what I thought. Um, and so I was always in the back row. There was many years where it was like me and one other girl and all boys. 

And when my daughter came out, she came out, like teeny, teeny, teeny. She had different color hair, different colored eyes, different color skin. And, there was a part of me that was secretly happy. and at the time it was, it was interesting, like as a grown woman, I don’t have a ton, I mean, I think I have normal body and vanity insecurities. But yeah, I don’t know, I, I, I think I was happy that she looked different than me.

There was almost like an inner knowing that maybe if [00:02:00] she looked too much like me, I would get too activated by things that were her business and not my business. There was, I just sort of knew that it was a good thing that she was built differently than me and she looked very different. On the inside, I actually think that we have a lot of similarities. But just physically on the outside, we have always looked very different.

 So recently I coached a mom in my Mastermind. She came and she, you know, her six year old daughter was confiding in her mom that she felt ugly. What feels ugly? Oh, you’re not ugly. You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. This is such a sweet, you know, mom. I mean, saying what most of us would say, you’re not, what are you? And you’re so beautiful. You’re so beautiful. 

And she’s like, well, everyone else, all my friends have straight hair and I have curly hair. And, I think [00:03:00] she said something maybe about her body and that, you know, she wasn’t as small as some of the other little girls. And anyway, the mom came and she was just so distraught. 

 And I said to the mom, I coached the mom through it. And I said, I know it’s so hard. And of course you want to, but you’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. I said, and although it’s the best of intentions, when we try to convince someone of what they should think instead of just being there for all of it, all their feelings, being a sounding board and allowing them to vent and process. When we put our agenda before that, it’s actually like well intentioned gaslighting. Because you’re [00:04:00] trying to convince the other person that they shouldn’t feel or think the way that they feel and think. 

And I said, so take that in. Give me any yeah, buts. And I’ve done it too. And I’ve just learned through experience and I gave her an example of, think back to maybe when you were in college or some, or as a teenager and you’re getting ready to go out and just, you feel like nothing looks good on you. And then you have the friend that’s always like, it looks great. It looks great. You look great. Let’s go. 

Like, how did that feel versus the friend that was like, yeah, you know what? I don’t like the way the jeans are I don’t like the way they’re riding up like that. I love those other jeans. What are those other jeans that you wear? They look so good on you. Try those other jeans [00:05:00] are, or here, borrow my black pants. Like that friend that didn’t dismiss or invalidate. You know, they weren’t sitting there telling you that you look like a fat ass, but they were like, you just felt like they were honest. You knew that there was something that you didn’t like how it looked. And so that friend was there for all of it. 

I said, so think about your kid and think about what actually will be helpful. And she’s like, well, you know, she actually looks a lot like me and I’ve always hated my curly hair and I straighten my hair. And I was like, yeah, so she doesn’t even have curly hair around her even at home and so that’s good to know. And she said, I also, yeah, this was very activating for me because, you know, and the mom went into some stories about, like we all have at times where she didn’t feel like her most confident self and some of the things that came up. 

And I was like, yeah, [00:06:00] isn’t it interesting when our kids come to us and they trust us, right? They’re venting to us. They’re telling us how they really feel. And then rather than showing up in that empathetic, compassionate way, like that good friend you had that told you that your butt looked flat in those jeans or whatever it was, instead of, being that, we do the opposite and then our kid is left to just sit all by themselves in their feelings when they invited us in. And it made a lot of sense to her. 

So this was like, I don’t know, I want to say maybe a couple months ago. So this week she left this update. 

Mastermind Mom: I just had to share with this group. This was so big for me. I went today to Harper’s school to read to her class and bring them a sweet treat because her birthday is this weekend. And as I was walking in on [00:07:00] the bulletin board, they had a display and every kid got to pick what they thought was the best of them.

You know, some kids pick their arm or their eyes or whatever. Harper picked her hair. And she talked about how, you know her favorite singer Taylor Swift has curly hair. Thank you Randi for that suggestion, and I’m just so proud of the fact that she picked that after the very first mantra of, I hate my hair.

And so I brought it up. We were having lunch at school and I was like, I saw that you said the best thing about you is your hair. And she said, I just love it. I just, the only thing is I wish it was longer. And so we started talking about how we’re going to work to make it grow. 

But anyway, what a turnaround from saying she didn’t feel pretty because she didn’t have straight hair, to me working with her on it, and sitting with her in it, letting her feel the feels, but then doing what you said, Randi, and reminding her of all the people that have great curly hair. I mean, it just really does blossom, and it really does work, [00:08:00] and now, on her own, without any influence from me, that’s what she picked.

It literally made me have tears in my eyes I was so happy. So I just had to share.

Randi Rubenstein: And then she, shared a picture, from, I guess the bulletin board and there’s a picture of the back of her daughter and her curly hair and it’s a journal entry. It’s so cute. I love little kids, how they spell out how to spell everything, you know, and the imperfect spelling I think is so freaking cute.

So it says The Best Part Of Me. Hey, I want to show you my favorite part of me. First I will tell you it. It is my hair. The frist… (I think that’s supposed to say first) reason why I think my hair is the best part of me is that my favorite singer has curly hair like me. People think my curly hair looks pretty. The last reason is I love the color of my hair. It looks amazing. (Amazing’s in all caps.) [00:09:00] It looks AMAZING. That is why hair is the best part of me. 

I know it’s just such a tiny example, but like imprinting this little six year old, delicious little girl with a different narrative about her hair, about her body, about her look. When mom had the productive conversation with her, and I know because this mom is like a master at my, SAP process. She’s like, this is a mom who’s like, I just think in this way now, like productive conversations are just the way that I think. And so she, so once, you know, we kind of worked through this and she realized sort of where she was in her own stuff, her own stuff had been activated. She’s like, I got it. I’m on it.

So she went back, I’m sure, and had a productive conversation with her daughter. And when she did so, she probably said like, I also [00:10:00] have curly hair and it takes me a long time to straighten it. And I wish when I was your age, I would have learned you know, that curly hair is an asset.

I wish I would have learned how to do my curly hair, how to be proud of my curly hair. It would save me so much time. And, you know, it would have been a good thing to know because now I don’t really know how to do it. So maybe we can look into some different products for you and, yeah, let’s work with your amazing curly hair. 

And um, I don’t even remember saying anything about Taylor Swift, but I’m sure because I always bring up Taylor Swift because my daughter’s loved her for so long. I was like, doesn’t Taylor Swift have curly hair? So, yeah, you find other examples of people. 

You have your own stories. You have other, you know, where it’s like me too. You’re not the only one. There’s nothing wrong with you. I’ve felt that way too. Then we look for examples. And it’s like, wow, you know, [00:11:00] look at all the people that worship Taylor Swift and want their hair to look like hers. And you have that naturally. Some people go and they put, spend hours just how I’ve spent hours on making my hair straight. People spend hours making their hair curly. and she turned it around, right? Like she turned it around. 

Uh, so I just think that any chance that we have to coach our kids into a different way of thinking, a new narrative, not convincing them that they shouldn’t feel this way. There is an art to this. But if we, if we’re onto ourselves where, Oh shoot, I was gaslighting her. What’s coming up for me? Right? And we work through our stuff, so then we can come to them from a place where we’re able to coach them through it, we’re able to be that support. And now this insecurity doesn’t need to be, it’s not even not an insecurity anymore. Now it’s an [00:12:00] asset. Now it’s an asset. 

I mean, because what is a six year old who’s thinking that her hair’s wrong, her body’s wrong, she’s wrong? What happens to her as she gets older? What happens to her when she gets to middle school? Well, a lot of times, she either, makes herself invisible on purpose because she doesn’t think she’s enough over in the corner and doesn’t reach her potential. Or I think maybe even more often when you don’t feel good enough, a lot of times like you’re angry at the world. And I think quite often they become mean. And they become mean to other girls. 

I don’t know that that would have been the trajectory for this little girl because her mom is so awesome and with it and her dad too, that I think they would have turned this around regardless, or they would have helped her to turn it around. But it can really turn into a little [00:13:00] kid who if they’re feeling like I’m ugly, I’m not enough. 

Like when we talk about strong willed behavior, you know, strong willed behavior comes in many different flavors. And a kid that’s behaving in this, in a strong willed way, all it really means is, is I’m feeling something on the inside that I don’t know how to, I don’t know how to feel better, right? So I’m going to show other people how I’m feeling on the inside by having behaviors on the outside that frankly, you know, will force other people to pay attention. 

And so I think that, middle school mean girl behavior is strong willed behavior. And quite often it comes from deep insecurities, and kids who have been maybe angry or feeling not enough for a [00:14:00] really long time. And they start using it to make other people feel as bad as they have felt. It becomes like this power dynamic. 

Like, I’ve never seen a girl who becomes the mean girl or the queen bee who is excluding other people, I’ve never seen that happen to, a kid that is confident and just feels good about herself. Because happy people don’t go around spreading misery. And they don’t go around wielding power, you know, through exclusivity, right? And so I do think that the roots of that can start with something as seemingly innocent as this. It’s just, that’s just my opinion, just a little food for thought. 

So yeah, what activates you [00:15:00] when you’re like, what, if there’s any kind of vanity thing that your kids do. It might be something like your kid not feeling like they’re good at sports. And maybe deep down you always felt uncoordinated or were told that you were uncoordinated and so you didn’t even try to play sports because you thought that you weren’t good at sports and now you see your kid feeling bad about themselves because they’re not good at sports and so then you do that accidental, unintentional gaslighting. 

Oh, but if you practice, but you are good. Remember when you made that play? Rather than just sitting and receiving what they’re feeling and what they’re dishing out. Yeah. You know, I mean, it’s really simple. It’s like, yeah, not feeling so good at sports. Yeah, not loving your hair? Tell me. What [00:16:00] about it? 

Well, everyone else has straight hair and I have curly hair. So you, yeah, everyone has straight hair and you have curly hair and so it makes you wish that you had straight hair too? Is that what I’m hearing? Right? 

Like, yeah, I’m just suck. I’m just terrible. I’m horrible at baseball. I hate it. Everyone on my team hates me. They hate me because I’m so bad at it. Yeah? You feel like that? Like, you feel like your other teammates are not loving you because they don’t, they don’t think you’re as good as them. Tell me what made you think that way? 

It’s so hard, right? Because we’re really just like, there’s a lot of pausing and there’s a lot of reflecting back and then just sitting. I mean, productive conversations don’t always wrap up in one sitting. [00:17:00] Quite often we’re going to spend some time just listening and hearing and reflecting back and me tooing and thank you so much for telling me and not just keeping this all bottled up inside. Like I’m here for all of it. 

Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for trusting me. I don’t know that when I was your age, if I would have had the courage to, or felt like there was anyone I could talk to. to this stuff about, so thank you. Thank you for telling me, right? 

Like that could be a productive conversation in and of itself. And this is so hard for me as a recovering fixer who quite often relapses, I want to get them to a place of feeling better. But what I find is what helps people get, people, little people and big people get to a better place of feeling better, is when they have an empathic [00:18:00] listener who’s like not trying to change them, solve them, fix them. They’re just here for all of it. 

Super hard. Try it, you guys. Try it and notice how uncomfortable it is and how hard it is. I would love to know. I would love, love, love to know, um, how hard it is, how difficult it is. If you’re seeing, if you’re listening and you, and you see our clip on social, post in the comments, tell me tell me if you tried it and tell me how it went. Cause I’m telling you, it’s tough. It’s tough to just sit and receive and hear and not fix. 

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got for you this week. You guys have a great week. Bye.

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 [00:19:00] 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 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_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 [00:20:00] subscribe, rate and review. Super super appreciative.

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