Inside the Therapist's Office: Unravelling Childhood Anxiety- SE4EP5 - Leslie Cohen-Rubury

In this episode, we are honoured to have Leslie Cohen-Rubury join us. With over 35 years of experience as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a rich personal history in parenting and relationships, Leslie brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective on parenting and mental health. Leslie is the host of the incredibly unique podcast, Is My Child A Monster, you get to be a fly on the wall in Leslie Cohen-Rubury’s office and listen in as she sits with parents who share their stories in therapy sessions recorded live. Her eclectic therapeutic approach and dynamic style make her a respected voice in dealing with anxiety, mood disorders, relationship issues, and more. Today, we'll dive into Anxious kids, Sensitive Kids and how therapy can help.
Connect with Leslie Cohen-Rubury:
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AI Generated Transcription

Speaker 1 (00:08):
Welcome to the Parenting in the Digital Age podcast. Many parents are concerned that their child might be falling behind. Others are just looking for ways to help their children thrive, not just in the classroom, but socially and well into their future careers. Each episode we explore the challenges facing parents in the modern world, from behavior, education, and nutrition to device and gaming addiction. We interview a range of leaders in the area of childhood development to help you successfully navigate parenting in the digital age. Here is your host, Jamie Buttigieg.

Jamie (00:01.124)
Hello parents and welcome to another episode of Parenting in a Digital Age. Today you are in for a real treat. We have Leslie Cohen -Rubury joining us. Leslie has over 35 years of experience as a licensed clinical social worker and a rich personal history in parenting and relationships. Leslie brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective on parenting and mental health. Leslie is the host of the incredibly unique podcast, Is My Child a Monster? Where you get to be a fly on the wall in Leslie's office.
and listen in as she sits with parents who share their stories in therapy sessions recorded live. Her eclectic, therapeutic approach and dynamic style make her a respected voice in dealing with anxiety, mood disorders, relationship issues, and more. Today, we're gonna dive into anxious kids and sensitive kids. So join us as we hear from Leslie Cohen -Rubury.
Jamie (00:00.622)
Leslie, first of all, welcome to the show. Please share with our listeners in your own words what you do and what you're passionate about.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (00:08.611)
Wonderful, thank you, Jamie. Well, what I do is I'm a licensed clinical social worker. I've been at it for a long time. I'm probably 38 years of being a social worker. And two years before that, I was in special education, which is interesting because I went into special education to work with children. I was very passionate about, there's your passion, very passionate about working with kids, helping kids. But what I thought about while I was there for those two years was,
These kids go home every night to their families. And I didn't see that families had the same resources that we were giving the kids. So I became determined to work with families as well. I do love working with systems. I'm very passionate about working with families. And as a matter of fact, I do have a private practice, but many parents, many therapists in the area end up referring to me for family therapy because I think I get excited about working with the...
bigger system with the complex person or the complex system, that gets me excited. I have a little bit of ADHD myself, that's an understatement, and I definitely can hold a lot of things going on at the same time. So it's a passion of mine to figure out what's going on with people, individuals, with myself, with, you know, I think my passion has always been doing puzzles.
And so I've loved doing puzzles. And as a kid, I was doing this thing in the newspaper called the crypto quote. I come home from school and I sit down and I decode the quote. And I think I just grew up to do the same thing, but with people to figure out what's going on with people, why are they struggling, where the pain is, what they're doing that may be making it harder for themselves, more challenging and ways to make life.
a little more effective and more enjoyable. So bringing, trying to work on those puzzle pieces.
Jamie (02:11.374)
You're incredibly passionate, Leslie, and I'm excited to dive into that passion throughout today's show. In particular, I want to touch on anxious kids and sensitive kids. Before we do that, what are some common misconceptions that parents might have about therapy?
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (02:21.027)
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (02:26.883)
Ah, about therapy. That therapy, I think children also have this misconception, is for people who have problems, as if they're broken and they need to go to therapy because they're broken. I don't believe that. I think therapy is a way of getting what you want and understanding who you are. I think for parents, my job description is the same as therapy.
It's to guide people into understanding who they are. And many, many parents think therapy or think parenting is about fixing their child and making them who they are. And therapy you might think is a misconception, maybe fixing people. And it really is about guiding people into understanding themselves and solving some of those puzzles again about why do I keep doing this?
you know, why do I keep staying up till three in the morning if that's not working for me? Why do I keep avoiding the parties that will make me feel better about myself? So yes, it's a little bit about solving those puzzles, but what other misconceptions or myths about therapy? One is that, you know, you're weak if you go to therapy. I think that really is changing. Now it's almost a badge of honor and it's almost, you know, but I do think that there are some cultures,
And I want to respect the cultures where people say, you know what, we don't share our problems with other people. And I get that and I will respect that. And the truth is when the skeptics come into my office because they get dragged in because of their wife or their partner or their child, you know, the child gets dragged in. I love working with the skeptics because we might change their perception. So.
Bring your skeptics on in terms of why therapy is no good. But I do believe, actually I just had a recent situation, I do believe that if you are skeptical, it's good to be skeptical about therapy. Go and make sure you're getting what you want. I don't believe therapy should go on and on and on for years without seeing real change. To me, I am a change -oriented therapist and I do believe...
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (04:45.091)
One of the misconceptions is that all you do is go and talk.
I am a firm believer that if you want to just talk, I feel like I'm going to be part of your regret 10 years from now or two years from now if nothing changes. I don't want to be part of your regret. So I think that's a misconception. And if you do go to therapy, I do believe people need to self -advocate, make sure they are asking questions about what changes and how do you work. And because therapy has become really much more advanced than when I started out 40 years ago.
It's a much more refined evidence -based set of practices now.
Jamie (05:25.71)
It is and that incredibly well articulated. If I was sitting on the fence about therapy, you've just sold it to me. So, and what I love about these podcasts, Leslie, is that, you know, our discussion is going to be out in the universe there and somebody will listen to this in one month, three months, three years from now. And, you know, that little nugget of gold that you just shared may change a life or may change a family's life. So very well put. I want to talk for a moment about.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (05:33.059)
Jamie (05:53.518)
anxious kids and you know perhaps what are some of the early signs of anxiety in children the parents might overlook but should be aware of.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (06:03.363)
Absolutely. So one of the things I will share is that right now I am doing a podcast as well. And the podcast is called Is my child a monster where I work with families and we record live sessions. And so you get to hear exactly what you're talking about. Parents come in and say, my child's defiant. My child won't do this. My child won't do that. And it, they, parents are attracted to the podcast.
And believe it or not, the majority of the time we are dealing with an anxious child. So parents come thinking their child, you know, the question is, is my child a monster? No, your child is not a miss a monster. They may be misunderstood. And so what we're doing is helping parents identify what's going on. That's, that's, you know, the underlying causes for your child's behavior. And so often anxiety is the cause.
And so often it's a highly sensitive child or anxious child that we don't recognize the behaviors or the symptoms because we think of anxiety. I've had many adults not understand they have anxiety because they think anxiety is just that nervous, jittery feeling. And that if they're not nervous and they're not jittery and they're not shaking and they're not crying or whatever, then they're not anxious or they're not worried. That anxiety may be...
When you ask me very nicely, oh, would you go call the pizza place and order pizza for us? No, I'm not doing that. That could be anxiety. That was classic defiant behavior. But if we just look at it above the surface, we treat it and we try to deal with it as defiant behavior. But if I say, wow, I bet it's pretty scary for you to call the pizza place, at that point, you can't believe the connection.
that you and your child might have because my guess is that your child, and you can test this out, don't believe me, that my guess is the child will say, no, I'm scared. What if they say something and I don't know how to answer it? Or what if they ask me a question and I don't know what to say? So oftentimes we might be wrong, but I'd rather be wrong while I'm assessing it because I don't mind saying, oh, okay, so it's not anxiety. Let's see what else is, there must be a very good reason for.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (08:24.899)
why you don't want to call the pizza place because you want to play the game you are playing. So it can be disguised as defiance, clearly avoidance. I don't want to go to do that activity. Meanwhile, they love playing basketball or they love, you know, going to birthday parties, but they don't want to go. And that, that avoidance is often anxiety and parents just miss it.
Sometimes parents just absolutely miss that that's what's going on. And another way that anxiety may present itself that parents don't see is it starts out often as physical sensitivities like sensitive to sound, sensitive to clothing, sensitive to, you know, we do know that in research that there is a correlation between physical sensitivity and emotional sensitivity. So if you have that young, young child, a toddler who's having
sensations because often children outgrow some of those sensory integration issues. But the young child may have sound sensitivity, taste and sensitivity sensations. I would look clearly to see if that's not some of the underlying seeds for anxiety. So those are some of the ways avoidance, defiance, oh, somatic complaints. That means
people who have stomach aches or headaches, the ones who go to the nurse's office say, I can't go to school, I don't feel well, but as soon as school, they stay home, they're running around the house and you go, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, what was that all about? And then we blame our kids for being manipulative. And it's like, okay, why are you manipulating me? You did not feel, you were not sick, you're fine. No, they didn't want to go to school because they have anxiety and that stomach ache was real. So those are just some of the ones off the top of my head that,
Disguised that anxiety can get very, very deceptive for, it can fly under the radar for parents. And I'm not surprised when parents miss it.
Jamie (10:28.718)
Incredible. Thanks for sharing. What are some of the or are there some effective daily routines or habits that maybe parents can establish to reduce anxiety in kids?
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (10:39.907)
Okay, so I'm going to jump on something you just said, which is reduce anxiety in kids. Of course we want to reduce anxiety for our children, but the framework is we want to teach our children to handle anxiety when it shows up rather than try to get rid of anxiety. So sometimes I name it. Oftentimes the first skill is name it, notice it and name it.
So one thing we might do is when the child who's caught, you know, you just asked your child to do a task or make that phone call for you and they say no, you might say, can I take a guess because I have a feeling that's your anxiety talking. So I might notice it. If they have that stomach ache, I might say, oh, I wonder if anxiety is telling you or if anxiety is telling you that school, you're a little worried about school today.
What is that stomach ache trying to tell us? So I might put a name to anxiety. I might really try to get parents to get in the habit of noticing and naming it. Because the goal, in order to help children not necessarily reduce anxiety, we want to make them an expert on their own anxiety so that they can grow up living really healthy lives with their anxiety.
That would be like, let's get rid of your right hand. You know, we don't want to get rid of your right hand. We want to get, we want to help you use your right hand effectively. We want to help you use your anxiety in your life, have a really good relationship with your anxiety. Does it can?
Jamie (11:59.79)
Yeah, that's a -
Jamie (12:12.686)
Yeah, what wonderful distinction that I know many listeners will get a lot out of. How can parents work with their schools and maybe other caregivers to ensure a consistent approach to managing or helping their child's anxiety?
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (12:17.635)
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (12:28.067)
So when children are dealing with anxiety, and by the way, schools miss it too, as hard as they are working, as I love the effort that schools are putting into helping our children. And they're not trained per se in recognizing anxiety. I think much more so as the years have gone on because the increase of anxiety in school, but you have some children who are real people pleasers. There's one more way of hiding.
that children can be incredible people pleasers. And that's anxiety. That's often masking the anxiety that a child is feeling just to look good and do right and be right. But that's only because they have so much anxiety. So what we can do to help schools, caregivers, parents is, I start to say before, is to help, besides naming it,
is we're going to teach people to have skills that they can actually deal with their anxiety. So again, it's not about avoiding it. It's about saying, I notice and name it, and now having a toolbox, a toolbox of strategies that can help you with your anxiety. So one of the things that I like with parents is,
and schools is to teach children that having anxiety is not the problem. It's learning to be comfortable with that discomfort. As we all know, anxiety is really uncomfortable. Like it's no fun, it feels rather uncomfortable. So we want to acknowledge that it's uncomfortable. We want to validate. One of the things that caregivers, teachers and other people is to validate that.
we get that it's uncomfortable instead of saying, you'll be fine, you'll be fine, everything's gonna work out. I wanna ensure, yes, I wanna help children feel like things will work out, but first I wanna start with what you're feeling is really uncomfortable. It's called validation. And when someone says that to you, it's almost like, oh, they get me, they understand me. So that feeling of being seen and understood is incredibly...
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (14:45.123)
important so that children can step up to the plate to tolerate the distress. So really helping one is to validate the person's experience. That stomach ache feels you do not that does not feel good. That feels really, really uncomfortable. You know, you've had that stomach ache before going to school, I bet you're really uncomfortable. And I might have them to give everyone some language, I might have them rate it.
Like on a scale of one to 10, how badly do you feel? And they might say 10 because highly sensitive kids, everything is a 10. Everything feels like a 10. And so not in one day and not in one month and not even in one year, we want to give children the ability to learn to develop a little perspective on that intensity. Like, okay, is this stomach ache the same as when you had the flu? Do you feel the same way? Or...
You might think when you were going to the birthday party was the same discomfort as when you had to go to the dentist and get a tooth pulled or something. So we want to give them some relativity so that they can learn perspective. So that rating scale can teach children perspective. And I'm not going to judge it. I'm just going to say, okay, you feel like you're at a 10. So one, validate to help the child feel like they're being seen and understood. That is critically important for all the adults around that child.
And if that's all I could say today, that would be enough. But yes, so I would like to say that's enough. That's all you need to do. And of course, we have a lot more skills besides the validation. We do want to teach children, and this comes from dialectic behavior therapy, which is a therapy that helps people with emotional dysregulation.
Jamie (16:16.846)
And that's incredibly practical. Go ahead.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (16:40.099)
And one of the things we want to help them understand is the difference between our emotion mind, where that emotion is showing up and I feel uncomfortable and what those feelings are like and what thoughts I might be having. And we start to identify that. That's my job as a parent or as a teacher, a little less because they don't have time to teach all that. But then also to help them get into wise mind. So teachers don't have to solve the child's anxiety.
but they have to help them recognize, wow, I think you're in emotion mind right now, which means it's really hard for you to sit here and look at this homework sheet. What can you do? Name three things you might be able to do to, and that's the, those are our distress tolerance skills, tolerate the distress, maybe with a little distraction or something like that. And then come on back, we're going to go back when you were in wise mind or thinking zone, when you're not in emotion mind anymore.
then we're going to sit down and look at that piece of paper. So when someone, I want the adults to know that when a child is in emotion mind, don't try to reason with them. Don't try to force them through it. Give them a moment. Okay, you know what? I can see that you're in emotion mind. Do you need one, three or five minutes before you come back to, you know, doing this assignment?
And when children are given that choice and that respect, they're crazy as it sounds, they're like, okay, I'll be ready in three minutes. Right? It sounds so arbitrary, but kids love that. They just love that respect. So go ahead and give them a little respect and don't fight them when they're in emotion. Because then you're just going down to a nine year old level. You are, you're coming down and it's, it's going to be a power struggle and you get into emotion. So regulate yourself.
recognize that children are emotion -mined when they're feeling intense emotions. Give them a moment, give them space, give them respect, and then say, I'm right here when you're ready. Stay connected to them.
Jamie (18:46.99)
Yeah. And I love that you're giving kids agency and that feeling of control over their options and their direction, you know, in many situations or in many cultures, kids don't get to make decisions. And so that's an incredibly powerful takeaway there for me. I noticed as you were talking through anxious kids, you also talked about sensitive kids. Do you use those terms interchangeably? Are anxious kids, sensitive kids, sensitive kids, anxious kids, or are they separate like?
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (18:52.099)
Yes. Yes.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (19:00.707)
That's right.
Jamie (19:16.558)
just for my benefit, help me understand that.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (19:20.291)
I think it's just terminology used by different people. So the medical model might be more, we would talk about anxiety and anxious children. So that comes from a little bit more of a medical model. There are people who love using the terminology, highly sensitive people. It's really a matter of your, maybe the lens that you look at with children, but in my mind, I'm talking about oftentimes they don't.
completely overlap, but highly sensitive children are often much more likely to be anxious. To me, they overlap tremendously because very anxious. I mean, we all remember, we all have anxiety. It's a normal human emotion. It's meant to help us in situations like preparing to go away or preparing to take a test or get a job. So anxiety is a normal, healthy emotion.
that at times certainly can get too much, too big. And if it feels like it's overwhelming you or you feel hijacked by an emotion, that's when it becomes a problem. So the highly sensitive child shows up in the world already feeling things pretty intensely. I mean, I had three children and all three were very, very different. One of them was my highly sensitive child who was...
very anxious, you know, and so yes, she would have gotten the diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. She still has it as an adult, but has tremendous amount of skills to deal with.
Jamie (20:58.67)
So, leading into that, how can parents maybe manage the balance between encouraging a highly sensitive child to try new things, but while respecting their comfort zones?
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (21:08.739)
Okay, it is what I call a challenging fine line because, and so to me, it's all about making sure you see progress. You don't wanna feel stuck and you don't wanna feel like you're pushing too hard and threatening your child's sense of safety and wellbeing. So I really believe in...
In therapy, we call it exposure, we call it a hierarchy of exposures. So if a child tends to want to avoid doing new things, I am going to try to do step -by -step approach of giving them practice at these steps. I like to use words of encouragement. I love kids saying from a very, I started with my grandson when he was two years old saying,
Nana, I did it. So as soon as he was young enough to speak, I started having him say, I did it. Because that sense of accomplishment is what helps us get past that hump of, I don't want to do it, I don't want to do it, I don't want to do it. Well, I say to him sometimes when he doesn't want to do something, I say, you know, when you get done coming down that slide or doing that thing you're scared to do, you get to tell me, I did it, Nana. And I'm waiting at the bottom of the slide to hear those three words.
So, you know, that's one thing, encouragement. Tell me what your question was again, I forgot.
Jamie (22:42.51)
We were just talking about how parents can effectively manage the balance between encouraging a highly sensitive child to try new things, but kind of respecting their comfort zone, their boundaries or comfort zone.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (22:50.563)
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (22:56.195)
Yes. So it's, it is that balance. I don't believe in the school of hard knocks in the sense that kids have enough hard times. And for one child doing, going down the slide is, might be just as challenging as another child who has to go get their tooth pulled or something like that. I mean, we are not, I do not want to be the one that says, no, this is no big deal. I do not want to invalidate a child's experience. Invalidation is so much more damaging.
than the child who doesn't end up going down the slide. So I also don't, I like to get rid of the shoulds that parents carry around. Like my child should be able to go down the slide. They're five years old. What's wrong with them? What are the parents going to think if my child won't do that? So let go of the shoulds that parents feel from society, from each other, from themselves. And then another idea, as I said, is the step -by -step approach where you see progress. It's like,
Okay, so going down the slide is not something you're ready for. Do you want to roll the ball down the slide? Do you want to, you know, like the child can go to the top and roll the ball down and have so much fun that for the first, you know, for a year, the child just rolls balls down the slide or their stuffed animal down the slide. And then it's like, okay, do you, you know, do you want to sit at the top of the slide? Should we, you know,
sit on my lap, let's go down this slide together. Not everything needs to be broken down that to very small steps, but a step -by -step approach is often a very effective way of helping children feel mastery and build that sense of accomplishment. The more they do it, the less anxious they will be because that's called habituation and we're trying to help children do things over and over again. And...
You might, they might find a metaphor of, you know what, something that they did so many times that now they don't have to think about it. You know, you ride your bicycle now and remember in the beginning that wasn't easy. Well, now you're trying to learn to, I don't know, hang from the monkey bars or something like that, or whatever it is they're doing. So you can use their past experience of what did that feel like?
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (25:20.483)
And then I want to go back to the idea of anxious children think they need to wait until the feeling goes away before they try something. So what I want to teach my anxious child or highly sensitive child is you're going to have that feeling and do it anyway. And then I use a two hands. I say to my child, okay, I'm scared and I can go down the slide because kids are like, I'm not going down to the slide until I'm done being scared.
Or I'm not going to go to school until I'm done being scared. When I'm done scared, then I'll go to school. Well, we all know that child's never going to school. So instead, I'm scared and I can do it anyway. Does that make sense? It's called a dialectic statement and I call it the magic and to make two opposing statements. I'm scared and I can do it are two opposites. They seem like they can't go together, but if we add that magic and...
it does make sense and people really begin to be able to conceptually do something. It's like, yeah, that makes sense. You're scared and you can do it.
Jamie (26:28.494)
incredibly practical and powerful and something I could use, you know, not just for our kids, right?
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (26:34.531)
Absolutely. If I'm not in the mood to go do something, wow, I really want to stay home and have a day off and I know my work is meaningful and I know I can get through this day or whatever it is. I never feel that way about work, but that's, I know a lot of people do. Absolutely.
Jamie (26:47.63)
Great example, very, very practical. Let's talk for a minute about strengths -based approach. Can you explain for parents what the strengths -based approach is and maybe how might differ from other parenting techniques?
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (27:04.195)
Sure. So again, there is a way of looking at people, judgments or whatever, which is good and bad, right? We can have a dichotomous way of looking at things, which this is good and this is bad. When we hold both of those and we get rid of the judgment of good and bad, and we just say, okay, what do we have here? We have strengths where a child loves to...
play cards and loves to build Legos and loves to, you know, create things. And we have a child that really hasn't quite developed the ability to, to interact socially in groups. Okay. So it's like, okay, we're working on that. And it's funny. Right now what's popping into my mind is a, a, some terminology. I had this woman on my podcast who talked about the
building construction zones and that if we look at what our strengths are, we also have these areas that need some development. They're like construction zone, they need a little more work. So it's a great metaphor for helping people, even when we have weaknesses, to say we're going to build some, we're going to develop some strengths around the areas that maybe are not our strengths, right? Not our weakness, some of our weaknesses. You know, for myself,
as a human being, I'm a person because I move quickly and I'm doing a lot at the same time. You can imagine I've lost my keys, my wallet, a lot of things like that. So one of my strength -based approach is to say, okay, I've got an area that's not one of my strengths, but I have tools and ways to help myself so that I don't have to look at it as I am broken. Like, oh my God, there you go again, Leslie, you're messing up again. Like,
always Leslie, you're always messing up. And it's so easy to look at our children and think, Oh, I can't believe they're doing that again. Like, why do they? Why are they, you know, are they refusing to get in the shower and refusing to do this and refusing to do that? Or, you know, they're not very helpful. And they're lazy. And we look at children and people we look at ourselves and each other that way. And I just look at everyone as okay.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (29:23.043)
There's the puzzle again. It's like the strength -based approach is looking at it with curiosity. So when I see a child who doesn't want to go in the shower, I put on my curious alien hat and I say, okay, you must have a very good reason for not wanting to get in the shower. I don't get it. Doesn't make sense to me, but maybe you can help me understand. And that approach looks at the problem from a perspective of curiosity rather than judgment. That's the basis of...
you know, a strength -based approach is looking at things to solve, to work on, to be effective rather than judging it as good or bad.
Jamie (30:03.182)
And it's something you've got to be really, really conscious of. Like even as a father, a parent of four, a grandparent of two, you know, maybe it's the way I'm raised, a whole bunch of other influences over the last, you know, period. But I try and bring myself back to just be curious, you know, try and understand why. And rather than just judge, that's not how I do it. You know, and that's my natural tendency is to be judgmental of their behavior or their actions.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (30:11.683)
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (30:24.099)
Jamie (30:32.814)
Gotta be conscious.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (30:33.443)
Absolutely. I want to validate every parent, including myself, that says that's just, A, how we're raised, that's just normal. It's not easy when we don't have that cooperative, easygoing child. I always tell parents who have the easy cooperative parent, they go, oh, I'm so great. It's like, no, just try having a challenging child. You will not, you know, it is not easy. So first and foremost, it is normal. It is understandable.
that we judge and that we have to remind ourselves, remind ourselves to bring that curious alien, that curious mindset, the curious mindset of looking at our children to work collaboratively, to work together.
Jamie (31:17.71)
It can certainly change everything. Leslie, what role does humour play in your therapy sessions?
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (31:23.843)
Oh, I love humor. If you can make me laugh, that's great. If I can make you laugh, that's fantastic because I've got to repeat what my daughter just said. Again, I did a podcast this last week with my daughter and she said, because we use a lot of humor in our family, she said, humor is not, we don't use it to make light of a situation or be dismissive, but we use humor to bring light to a situation.
I'm like, oh my God, that sounds brilliant. So I think humor, I just think the idea is it's a gift when we can laugh with ourselves, take a situation, not to bring some levity to it so that it can help us understand, it can help us cope, it can help us tolerate. So I encourage parents, there's a big difference between humor and sarcasm.
Sometimes parents will try to be sarcastic to bring humor to a situation, but sarcasm hurts. And sarcasm, somehow kids get it that it's not humor. So, and I'm not an expert. I actually would have to look up the real difference between sarcasm and humor, but children know the difference intuitively. And so we wanna bring humor to bring light to a situation.
to understand that we all make mistakes and the more we can not laugh everything off because it is certainly there's a time and place for everything. And so it's just, go ahead and go for it if you can smile and bring a little humor to a situation.
Jamie (33:09.582)
Yeah, wonderfully said. One question we like to ask all our guests as we start to round off the podcast and believe me, I'm engaged in our conversation. We could talk for hours and maybe we have to have a follow up session one day. Thank you. The question is, if we had a time machine and Leslie could go back to her 12 year old younger self, what's one piece of advice that you give to your younger self?
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (33:23.907)
I'd love that.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (33:40.931)
So, as I said, my podcast is called, Is My Child a Monster? And I never thought of myself as the monster, but I did think of myself as bad. Like I had a lot of shame. So I think I wanna go back and tell my 12 year old self, oh, I'm gonna cry, you're not too much.
You're not, you know, in the two with the T -O -O, you are not too much. You are who you are. And it's really okay. You may be loud. You may be, you may talk fast. You may bump into things. You may speak before you think. You may, you know, do all these things that get you in trouble. You may have trouble learning and you are just who you are. Can we celebrate who you are? Um,
So I think the idea is that children will go to a place of shame. Oftentimes parents can shame children unintentionally. I know parents, many parents don't want to shame their children and yet we can do it unintentionally. So for me, for my 12 year old self who probably felt shame, I know I felt shame because I've been working my way out of it. So I would say you're not too much, be who you are.
And I'm still working on that. I was really scared to put myself out in the world starting the podcast. And I didn't know I was scared. It wasn't to like, Oh, I've been thinking about this podcast for three years. Why am I not getting it done? I'm a person who gets things done. I'm like, I have not gotten this podcast out for three years. What is taking me so long? And I think it was four or five years, to be honest. And I realized that, Oh, I'm scared to put myself out there. Cause at 12 years old, I was so afraid. I was hurt.
And by a tease that I felt shame. I didn't want to put myself out there. I wanted to hide. So don't hide. You're not too much. Be who you are.
Jamie (35:39.278)
incredible advice and is my child a monster is your podcast. It's an incredible concept by the way and I'm definitely going to check it out as a result of hearing you talk about it. But look, I love asking that question at the end, not just to lighten things up, but you know, hopefully cause it certainly causes me to reflect and every time I hear someone respond and I reflect and then try and I want it to help me become a better parent.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (35:54.531)
Jamie (36:08.43)
you know, and if I'm reflecting on the things that I wish I was or wish I could have done or told myself, then hopefully I can go back and well not go back, but just help my kids be stronger in those areas. So I'm not sure if I articulated that the right way, but I think it's an incredibly powerful question. And I think we're up to about episode 80. So one day, I think when I get to a hundred responses from our experts and guests, I'm going to, I think I'm going to put together a book with all of those pieces of advice.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (36:09.155)
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (36:37.571)
Oh, that's a beautiful idea and I love it. And I think the idea that our wise self, our 50, 60, 70, 80 year old, I mean, just so today in therapy, I said, if your 50 year old self could tell you something right now, it's funny that you asked me that question because I actually asked that to my client because we do have wisdom. And oftentimes our children don't want to hear our parent, you know, the wisdom from our parent.
But if we hear from ourself, so you asked me what advice would I give my 12 year old self, that's the beauty of it is my, you know, my present self, my wise self could give my 12 year old some advice. So I love that idea and parents can use that as well with their child.
Jamie (37:26.51)
Indeed. And how can our listeners connect with you? Where can we listen to your podcast? Where's your website? Just give us a few and we'll pop them in the show notes.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (37:36.067)
Okay, great. Well, you can find everything at my website, which is my name, Leslie Cohen Rubury .com. And the podcast is wherever you find a podcast "Is my child a monster?" It's a parenting therapy podcast where, like I said, parents listen in to real live therapy sessions. And I'm on Instagram at Leslie Cohen Rubury and YouTube channel. I'm just starting to get that going with some of my
videos. So look for me on social media and my website has lots of resources. One of the reasons why I started the podcast is because I sat with individual families and I really wanted to get this information out there. And I heard you say that that's your goal too is to help listeners get this information. So that was my motivation to do the podcast and I really believe wholeheartedly in getting resources.
to people. So at my website, I try to have handouts and other resources, other links to resources. I'm still developing that, but go for it.
Jamie (38:44.014)
Leslie, thank you so much for your wisdom, your time, your generosity today. I know you're making a tremendous impact in the communities you serve and I truly hope we cross paths again soon. Thanks for being on the show.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (38:55.491)
Thank you, Jamie. I so enjoy talking with you. Good luck. And I'm so happy that your listeners have been following you because you have such great advice and guests on your show. So thank you so much.
Jamie (39:08.11)
Thanks, Leslie. Cheers. Bye for now.
Leslie Cohen-Rubury (39:11.331)
Bye bye.

If you enjoyed the show, please connect with Jamie on LinkedIn or Instagram. You'll find links in the podcast description. Parenting in the Digital Age is sponsored by Skill Samurai Coding and STEM Academy for Kids. Skill Samurai offers afterschool coding classes and holiday programs to help kids thrive academically and socially while preparing them for the careers of the future. Visit
This episode is sponsored by Skill Samurai - Coding & STEM Academy