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292: Retrain Your Brain, Rewire Your Family

When people join the Mastermind Parenting community, they come seeking answers about the way their children behave. What they usually don’t realize is that they’re not just struggling with “bad” behaviors. They need a space where they can unlearn generations of bad advice, and retrain their thinking around the rewards and challenges of parenting sensitive kids. This week we’re talking about a mom who is just starting that process. I’ll share the experiences that are resonating with her, and how her family dynamic is being rewritten through the honesty and empathy she’s receiving in community with other moms.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What the label “strong-willed” means for a kiddo, for what they need in a parent, and how it will serve them as they grow into the world.
  • That we have to start with ourselves as we cultivate empathy and patience.
  • How easy it is to get stuck in outdated, counterproductive thinking about what it means to parent a sensitive child.
  • The huge impact in can have on a family when mom gives herself permission to feel overwhelmed.

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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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.

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Audio MMP 292

[00:00:00] Randi Rubenstein: 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. 

Hello, hello, hello. How is everyone this week? I wanna talk to you guys this week about a conversation I was having with some new members that have been working with me. Some new moms. We’re all in the getting to know each other phase and I’m learning all about them and their families. 

And whenever people come in at the beginning, it’s hard sometimes, to get to know people, and it’s vulnerable to talk about parenting and what’s really going on behind the curtains of your home. I’ve been doing this long enough that I know it’s a process in terms of getting to know people. 

And so we’re probably, I don’t know, a month into getting to know each other. They’re going through my program and the conversations, on cue, are starting to get more real. And I am starting to feel like I can sort of see what’s going on behind the curtains. And so we had a coaching call today and then we were having a follow up conversation because we communicate on this, uh, app called Voxer. And it has just been this sort of happy accident. It’s a tool that we use and it’s a way for us to have these ongoing conversations so that I really do feel like I live with people.

Because quite often people come on when, like right after a shit hits the fan moment, like this thing just happened. And so I get to hear what’s really happening and, you know, nobody is, kind of like fine tuning and especially a month in people are starting to trust our process. And so they’re really telling us what’s going on in their home.

And so we had a coaching call today and it got pretty deep and, and it was great. And so afterwards, one of the moms, she, she said, I do find dealing with all the things involving my strong-willed kid is hard and I have trouble connecting. Right? Like I think that connection piece, if I’m really, really honest. I think that it’s lacking. 

Y’all, that’s hard to admit, especially when you’re the kind of parent who signs up for a parenting group, listens to parenting podcasts. You know, most of the members that have been joining us lately have been, because I’ve really stopped doing any kind of marketing or promotion, um, it’s mostly been podcast listeners. And , and what I’ve decided is, that there’s sometimes people who’ve been listening to podcasts for years and then they come into our groups and they’re already speaking the language and, and I just have decided, you know what? Either word of mouth recommendation or podcast listeners. That’s how I like new members to find us. because it’s really nice when people come in already speaking the language. 

So, so she’s been listening and learning for a long time. And she says, I find dealing with all the things with my strong-willed kid hard. I often wish my child was different, dot, dot, dot, easier. And that is just horrible. That’s what she says. That is just horrible. 

So here she’s sharing her truth. You know, y’all can hear me say on this podcast, parenting a strong-willed kid is harder. They are harder, especially when they’re young, but also when they get older, right? It’s harder being a highly sensitive person, a person who quite often feels out of control on the inside and therefore tries to control everything on the outside. It’s harder to be a human being who feels things so intensely, okay? 

And so here she says she wishes her child was easier, and that is horrible. Really? Is it horrible? I mean, I never heard of anybody taking a test, a really hard test, that didn’t say, ugh, that was so hard, I wish it had been easier. Like, do you feel like a horrible person if you wish something had been easier? No, I think that’s just part of being a human being. 

Hard things are hard. When we get through the hard things and then we get to the other side and things start to be easier and we can remember when things, when it used to be hard. Like, so if you study, study, study for a really hard test and then you ace that test, you feel differently. Uh, and I’ve seen this with my own kids. You feel differently when you get back that hundred or a plus, right? Then if you took a test that was just easy right like oh, I aced it, but it was super easy. I think everyone did. No, there’s more of a sense of accomplishment when something was hard And then you overcome and you feel like a winner, right? Like you you you’re a victor 

But when you’re in the middle of hard when you’re studying for that hard test when you’re still in the thick of things you, with your strong-willed child, and it’s really hard every single day you’re in a, you’re, you’re in a extremely hard season of life and you’re not on the other side yet. Wouldn’t it, it’s normal to say, I wish this was easier, but here’s this mom judging herself. That’s horrible. I wish my kid was different and that’s just horrible, right? 

And I think that comes from a lot of people probably like myself saying, oh, these kids have, you know, have so many positives and they’ll grow up and they’ll have all this leadership energy. And, if you just honor how they’re wired, then you’ll see one day it will all pay off. 

But when you’re in the thick of things, and it’s just really freaking hard and you have a kid that is constantly looking for the fight dance, you have a kid that every single day by the end of the day, they are out of spoons and they are, you know, snarking at you and, and not cooperative about anything. You make a whole dinner, they’re like, uh, I hate this dinner. This is gross. They’re picking at their sibling. They’re refusing to get in the shower. They won’t, you know, they just won’t, they just won’t, they just won’t do anything. Okay. When you’re in that, it’s freaking hard. Okay. It’s freaking hard. 

So can we all just agree that it’s hard? And you’re here listening to this because you will be a person who will land in a place where it’s easier and you will feel such a sense of accomplishment that you didn’t give up and you stuck with this and you learned new ways to think and be and live and understand and communicate. Right? That you accepted the invitation from this child to go deeper within yourself and to start looking at how you’re often making their behavior mean something that it doesn’t. 

They’re a very frustrated human being and you’re the kind of parent that is committed to helping them feel supported. Right? But while you’re, you haven’t made it over there to the easier place yet. So while we’re in the hard, can we just accept and not judge ourselves for, this is hard and lots of days it really sucks?

Okay, so there’s that. So then this mom said, I feel like I want to check out so that some of this doesn’t feel so hard. I feel like I’m in this state of taking care of all the things we have to do and then retreating to my room or my devices as soon as I can. 

Well, again, sounds like this mom’s a human. Yeah, when things are really hard, I mean, haven’t you ever heard of stress eating? Whenever we’re in a state of high stress, cortisol racing through our veins, human beings look for the, like subconsciously, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. But we want to find a way to feel better to escape this hard. We’re not, we’re not designed to be in perpetual high stress states. 

So I would say this mom retreating to her room, even though it might be perpetuating the cycle for the time being, retreating to her room right now is her self care. Like she can only endure what she can endure. 

I mean, what I do know is that she’s in our 12 week program and so it’s miraculous, I really like when they start to share what the day to day looks like behind their curtains, right, inside their homes. Because my elephant brain will remember and when we see where they land, especially once they’re super committed to the process, in two to three more months it’s, it will seem like nothing short of a miracle But right now she’s just in self preservation. 

And so I shared a message back, you know, a personal story as I do in my groups. I tend to get, um, more unfiltered and personal, in my private groups. And I was sharing elements of my story with Alec during the hard years, um, which I can share very freely now because life is, hasn’t been hard with him for quite a while. I mean, now he’s, he’s a full grown launched adult, who comes here for lunch on his breaks from work many days and…

I’m not making him lunch. Don’t anyone think that I’m mother of the year over here? I don’t even think that would be mother of the year. I think that would be enabling and freaking weird to be making lunch for a 26 year old man on his lunch breaks from work and I’ve got a job. I work. And even if I didn’t, he needs to be responsible for making his own lunch. 

But, no, he just comes here because even though he lives somewhere different, we’re closer to his office, he wants to see the dogs, he makes himself some lunch, he knows nobody’s gonna bug him, he lays on the couch and takes a little 15 minute recalibration nap. Because he understands how he’s wired and he’s now got an afternoon that he wants to bring his best to work. He understands how he is wired. And so he quite often, I’ll just go out to make myself some lunch or get some water and there he is laying on the couch or being here. 

You know why he keeps coming back here? Because this home is his soft place to land and he does still want to come back and he still comes twice a week for dinner and it’s wonderful, right? It’s wonderful. But I’m on the other side of it. And I know he’s a healthy, thriving human. 

And so I shared some stories about when we were in the hard like right there, immersed in the hard. And, and I remember conversations and what my mindset was and things I would only say to Scott. I remember Scott and I having a conversation about things feeling really hard and, and I shared with the group, I said, you know, there were many years that I didn’t even want to share how hard it was or how worried I was, even with Scott. I was worried anything I might say might make other people judge him or reject him or, you know, not show up for him. And so I felt like I had to keep all of these concerns and worries bottled up inside. 

And I remember when Scott and I started having conversations where I would say it was almost like, okay, we can say these things to each other about what’s, what we’re really thinking and what we’re really feeling and how worried we really are and all of our true feelings. Um, but only here in this bed. It’s like, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. It was like what happens and what is said in the bed stays in the bed. 

And so I was sharing some of those stories and one of the other moms, she said, the way you talk about Alec hits so deep for me. I remember listening to your podcast for the first time when my son was only two years old and hearing how you talked about him. And it resonated so much with me. It’s literally exactly how I feel about my child. 

I love him so much. So much, and he’s so hard. And I wish he was easier. And I don’t ever want anyone else to find him difficult. And when they do, I wanna defend him because he’s freaking amazing. And, and, and I think this is exactly what I’ve been following along. Why, why I’ve been following along with your podcast for so long. 

And I know that there’s many of you that are listening that feel the same way. So, all that to say, I’m going to share the final Voxer clip that I shared with this group about these kids and, um, you know, maybe a few inspiring words and, and really it’s why I do what I do and what I wish had been available for me when I was in the hard where many of you are now. 

And so this is just my way of sort of paying it forward and saying I know there’s a lot of, I think it’s just normal. I think there’s so much mom comparison and competition and, and, and. Not with me and not in my groups. I’m like, nope, we get to all learn from each other. We get to all feel some days like shitty moms and some days like amazing moms. we’re just moms. We’re just moms. 

And I know that there are some dads that listen to this podcast and I’m talking to you too. And I am talking specifically to the moms or to any parent that finds themselves in a situation a caretaking role. I speak in mom language because the reality is that the majority of the momming in most western families is done by moms. 

So I’m choosing to speak to moms and if you’re one of the super cool dads who is here with us, then we love having you. And I know you’re also the kind of man who gets it and isn’t offended that I’m using mom language. So I’m just going to make that assumption. So enjoy this Voxer clip and have a great week.

I love when I hear y’all say things like that because it really is the reason I do things. Like, that’s what I said when my husband was like, what, what, what? You want to start a business? Like, why? And I said, I don’t know, just feel selfish not to.

And now when y’all resonate, it’s because I was you. And if I had had someone that I trusted that I knew really got it really felt the way that I was feeling. If I had someone that could have said, here, follow this process, we’ll do this together and it’s all going to be okay. your kid’s going to be great. 

Like if I had had that reassurance that there was nothing wrong with my kid, there was just things I, I needed to learn ways I needed to grow, that was going to help him ultimately, you know, come out cooked and, and healthy. Like, if somebody could have given me that reassurance, it would have been everything.

Look, not everyone has, a kid wired like Alec, and that’s the good news, is that what we found is, is that this process isn’t just for the Alecs. It’s not just for those kids, right? Like, this is for all the kids, for all the humans, big humans and little humans. Learning how to think with empathy for ourselves, for the people we love, for other people in the world, really, like, retraining our brains to understand that, like, there’s a reason we are, there’s an evolutionary reason we are all designed to be wired differently. Right? 

And, you know, it’s like, we needed the, the neuro diverse kids. We needed the ADD people in the tribe who were gonna, be quick to think on their feet, you know, the ones who could run fast, do the night shifts, um, alert, alert, danger. We needed the sires to be connectors within the tribe.

Like, we, you know, it’s like, there’s, there’s an evolutionary reason that we’re all supposed to be wired differently, especially within a pack. And we all have different strengths and we all have different skill sets. And when we pull our strengths, we become stronger overall. 

And Alec really is the impetus for how I got here. And so when I, when I have a mom who super resonates with, you know, how I felt and, and has a kid similarly wired, I’m like, ding, ding, ding. That’s why I do this. 

But it also is for our other kids, you know, because the whole family is impacted when you have a kid that feels misunderstood and life is harder for them in the younger years. Noises are louder smells or smellier, right? Like, whatever their sensory thing is. They take in the world to a heightened degree. 

I use the strong-willed kid language because I think people resonate, but the truth is, once you go through this process, and, and really like indoctrinate yourself into rewiring your own brain and understanding your wiring, your body, through a whole new lens, that there’s not strong-willed kids. There’s not, there’s not strong-willed kids. It’s just kids that we haven’t known how to support yet. And so we’re learning and as we learn and we grow, they learn and they grow. 

We kind of laugh when we refer to Alec when, you know, the strong-willed kid language, he’s like, he’s not a strong-willed kid. I mean, he’s not a strong-willed, now he’s an adult, but this is not who he is. He’s strong. He knows who he is. He’s got opinions, but he’s not looking for a fight. Um, or trying to be difficult or, or, or, or. 

Like, we’re all designed to be cooperative beings. Our strong-willed ones are just the ones that act on the outside the way they feel on the inside when they haven’t yet been supported in the way they need. 

Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips, tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life. And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household, I want you to go to my website and check out 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 subscribe, rate and review. Super, super appreciative.

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