In this week and next week’s podcast episodes, you’ll hear a convo between me and Laura Max Rose, podcaster and mom of two precious little girls.
Our main subject is the sibling relationship and the different layers involved – from sharing, to violence to our ultimate dream of our kids becoming besties.
How does our own birth order or being an only child determine how we navigate sibling fighting and what messages our kids receive? Why should we stop telling our kids we’re proud of them?
What do we say when one of our kids constantly compares themselves or their things to their sibs? Why ARE they making everything into a competition?
Well, tune in this week and next where we’ll cover all these topics and more!
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.
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My name’s Randi Rubenstein and welcome to the Mastermind. Parenting Podcast where we believe when your thoughts grow the conversations in your home flow.
Hey guys, Laura Max Rose Hear. I hope you all have a great weekend today. I am airing one of my conversations with the parenting coach Randi Rubenstein. If you’ve been around here for awhile, you’ve heard of Randi. She has been on the show about three or four times in the past, talking about different hot button topics, like how to deal with meltdowns, the state home versus working mom debate quarantine Parenting. And I always absolutely love her insight and what she has to say. The other thing that’s really unique about her episodes is that I always end up having a coaching session with her. I really bring my latest in the areas where I’m stuck as a parent to her.
And she really helps me work through them in real-time. So these are probably the episodes in which I’m the most vulnerable. And I’m excited to share this episode with you about siblings and sibling dynamics and how to navigate so many of the things that as parents have multiple children come up. I feel like very, very constantly. I am your host, Laura Max Rose and I’m joined again today by a parenting coach Randi Rubenstein Randi. You are probably the number one most quoted individual who has ever been on this show. Welcome back, Randy. Thank you so sweet of you to say, I probably quote things that you’ve told me in former episodes in every single episode I just did.
1 (1m 38s):
I just recorded my 50th episode of look, mom, no hands. And I did the top 10 things that I’ve learned from recording 49 episodes of the show thus far. And the first one was from you. It was Q-tip quit taking it personally. And that just that one line change the way I view so many conflicts with my children, so that this is the first time you’re hearing an episode with Randi. I highly encourage you to go back and listen to some other ones. If you’d like what she has to say today, we’re talking about siblings and sibling dynamics and sibling rivalry, which I’m kind of shocked. I’ve actually gotten this far in this podcast without ever discussing this before. But as I explained on Instagram a little bit earlier today, I like to discuss things on this show that I’m dealing with firsthand, because it helps me ask better questions.
1 (2m 22s):
If I’m in the trenches with something, I know what a parent is experiencing and the questions that parents have, because I’m one of those parents and this issue, hasn’t been a major challenge for me up until recently. And I wouldn’t call it a major challenge, but it’s definitely something that I’m starting to see more of. As far as being tongue tied. I’m having these scenarios with my kids, where I really don’t know what to say, and I don’t know how to handle them. So my oldest is about to be four years old. And my youngest is about a year and a half old. And I remember when I was pregnant with my youngest, I was at an event and I was to give birth. And someone said, you know your about to have a baby, but don’t forget that your oldest is still your baby.
1 (3m 6s):
And she was two and a half when my, when violet was born. And I remember just taking that in and feeling like this person has said this to me for a reason. And now looking back, I can just see so much more clearly how young my oldest was when violet was born. But there was something about having a baby that made her seem so old. Suddenly the expectations placed on her were higher. And that was sort of an involuntary thing that happened. There was a baby, the baby needed more attention and Selma, you know, was really forced to assume an older roll, which is my understanding happens among siblings, among siblings quite frequently. So I asked you before this show started, what are the two things that parents come to you most frequently about when it comes to siblings, then you said sharing and violence, which I think is pretty much every question that I have for you is something around that.
1 (3m 58s):
And I want you to talk, start us off here and talk a little bit about what parents come to you about an hour and how you do tend to guide them. And then I’ll go into a few scenarios that I’ve been experiencing with my kid based kids based off of my age, discrepancies based off of the fact that they aren’t both babies, that one of them is more of a baby than the other. And managing that since the oldest definitely wants to be treated in the same way as the youngest. And some other things that I’ve heard parents asked me about that they would love to hear from you on. So go ahead. Randi
2 (4m 28s):
Okay. Well, when you ask me about this, I say, Oh, well, coincidentally, I have been procrastinating finishing a little mini books that I have been writing all about my Sibling Fighting tool. So this is happening for a reason because literally it’s been like the thing that I’m like, I’m like 90% finished with it. And I just haven’t finished that last 10%. And I know, and I keep saying them and really the last 10%, it’s just me rapping it all up. And, and I’m, I’ve tried to delegate it. So like I’m always the hardest part. Yeah. I’m like, Oh, maybe you could just look at this and just wrap it up for me real quick. And then anyone on my team that tries to write anything, that’s the only thing I’m a control freak about it.
2 (5m 13s):
I’m like, that’s not my voice and no, no, no wrong. So it was like, damn it. I have to do it myself. Can I read to you all? And granted, this is when you ever you’re writing a book, you have what Anne Lamott calls your SFD, which is your shitty first draft. Can I read to you a little bit portion of my shitty first draft for proceed? Okay. The history of Sibling relationships, it’s important to look at the basic foundation of the sibling relationship. Let’s begin by looking at the older child’s perspective when they were younger sibling arrived home from the hospital.
2 (5m 54s):
OK. Is that helpful to here to you? Yeah. Okay. Yes. Okay. So now I tell it, imagine that this is in the, in the older siblings voice, I’m three mommy’s belly has been growing and they’ve been telling me our new baby’s coming soon. I don’t really understand, but mommy and daddy seemed really excited. And since they’re happy, I feel happy. Mommy has been an acting tired and she is unable to play with me as much as I get frustrated by that. Sometimes they get upset with me when I want mommy to run or pick me up. They told me that mommy can’t do those things because of the baby. I don’t see a baby. I get confused. I just want my old Mami back that I used to be able to work
1 (6m 35s):
And the cry listening to this, just so you know, like I’m still heartbroken for my old age. It’s just a part of life, but it’s so hard.
2 (6m 43s):
I know. I just want my old mommy back that I used to be able to do all the things with me. Sometimes I whine or cry or a runaway because I don’t know what else to do. What I’m feeling frustrated and confused. I wake up one morning and mommy is at home. Grandma tells me that daddy’s with mommy at the hospital. She’s having the baby and will be sleeping at the hospital for two sleeps. I miss mommy. And I just want her to come home. Daddy comes home and tells me that we’re going to the hospital, do meet my new sister. He is very excited. I’m excited to see mommy. We all go to the hospital. It smells flooding. When I run into the room, mommy smiles and I run to give her a hug and a kiss, but she doesn’t get out of the bed. She seems sick. I’m just so excited to see her. And I crawl up to the bed to snuggle and be with her.
2 (7m 25s):
Daddy seems angry and tells me to stop being so rough. I’m not being rough. I’m just excited to see my mommy. Mommy sounds tired. And she tells daddy that she’s okay in to bring my baby sister over to meet me. Daddy brings the baby over to us. Mommy moved me over and holds the baby sister in her arms. Wait, I’m supposed to be in those arms. I want mommy’s arms around me, but she says she can’t hug me while she’s holding the baby. I poke the baby because I want it to go back to its bed. So mommy can have me. Baby sister starts crying. Mommy has a mean face on it. And I know that she, I know that that means she’s not happy with me. Daddy says a lot of words and he’s angry with me too. I jump up the bed and decide to run out of the room and check out the hospital.
2 (8m 6s):
Daddy runs down, daddy runs down the hall after me. He picks me up with his main hands and he’s got a serious face on. He tells me that we’re going home and to tell mommy and baby sister goodbye. When mommy and baby sister comes home the next day I am so excited. I run and yell. Mommy is home. Mom is home. Baby sister starts crying and mommy and daddy started yelling at me. I’m confused. I want baby sister to go away. I want my old daddy and mommy back. The ones that played with me and held me and hugged me ever since baby sister got here. It seems like everything I do is wrong. I don’t like a baby sister. Everything changed once she arrived.
1 (8m 43s):
Oh, okay. So here we are. Right? I mean, you hear that. And I can imagine if I wasn’t a parent and I was a scene of that, I would be like, mom and dad, what are you doing? Be nice. And that mom, I mean, I bent over backwards to make my oldest feels like she was at the center of my universe to the point that I ended up in the hospital a week later with a nurse telling me that you have got to slow down, you cannot move heaven and earth for this child. She needs to feel what’s happening to her. And I just started sobbing. And I said, I can’t like, she’s my, I can’t, you know, it was so hard for me to let her have that experience that you were just describing. And mom and dad are amped up because you have this precious little baby and that you need to protect.
1 (9m 25s):
And biologically you’re like stop running and jumping next to this tiny baby. So there’s so many things going on. So now here’s the question. I mean, how do we navigate as parents? You know, I’ve heard that for the, for the older child, this is like the equivalent of you basically cheating on them. Like if you were married to them, that’s how they feel. So how can we support them through just the experience of having a sibling throughout their lives?
2 (9m 55s):
Hey, you know, I think this part of really understanding their perspective that in its exactly how I describe it, the way you just described it, it’s like you bring home his, like if your spouse brought home a new partner and they were like, Hey, there’s plenty of me to go around. You don’t have someone to help you with do all of those things that you don’t really want to do. Now you can split those chores off with that person. So, and we’re like, no, I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t know this. It was coming. And so you kind of feel blindsided and that’s how our kids feel. So I think it’s just important to kind of understand the older child perspective.
2 (10m 38s):
And like you just like you did, do you want you over compensated to the point that then old mommy’s not back because all my mommy has to Get hospital hospitalized
1 (10m 51s):
Right into the mud basically. Yeah.
2 (10m 53s):
So it’s like, we’re damned if we do. And we’re damned if we don’t and I think it’s sort of similar to the Q-tip, which is it, this is a mindset issue. And if we just understand that, you know, I think so many of us have this dream that we, we want our kids to grow up and be best friends. And I would say, I just was with a friend of mine who came and joined me. I’m spending the money on Colorado. And she drove him from Utah, really old friends of mine. She has three teenagers and, and they are all two years apart. And my kids are farther in age apart. My kids are closer to four years apart and, and it was so neat being around her three kids, they are all so close.
2 (11m 39s):
They’re literally like that dream of, I have three kids close in age and then they became teenagers and that all worked out and their best friends and, and there in both me and my husband were like, Oh, it was so neat that dynamic, you know, cause my kids would love have kids who had to have siblings only two years apart. And so there was a little bit of that. It, it wasn’t, it was like we were so happy to be around that. And it was really neat to see. And I think that many of us have that dream, that our kids are going to grow up and be best friends. And so what we don’t understand is that it doesn’t start that way. When you have, you know, a baby and a toddler, you gotta, you gotta realize that your mindset, your mindset has to be adjusted for.
2 (12m 25s):
I have to meet them where they are right now and it’s not personal. And the way they behave right now, doesn’t, it’s not a determinant of what their future relationship will be if I play it cool. And I don’t make anything into a bigger deal than it needs to be. And so on.
1 (12m 43s):
I love that you said that because as parents and so many different areas, we project so much onto our little children. We’ve had all of these experience. I experience is I didn’t have a Sibling, but my, my husband has a sister who has a sister and M he will read so much more into the little tiny dynamics between our daughters in ways that I don’t, because I didn’t have any of those experiences. And I’ll be the one who’ll say, listen, I, I hear you. And I know that that’s what happened with you. But in this scenario, that’s really not what’s happening. That this is like its so hard for us not to bring things that happen to us, into the present moment with our kids and think that, Oh gosh, I really want you guys to get along so perfectly Well and read way too much into those tiny little things that happen when they’re little kids.
2 (13m 30s):
That’s exactly right. That’s that? And so, so, so much of this is like when I teach my Sibling Fighting to him, the reason why I was like, I think I have to write a book about this because it’s layered and complicated and there’s a lot of mindset work involved because we all, if we usually, I mean, even if you’re an only child, you bring something to the table. So maybe it was I. I mean, maybe you’re different and correct me if I’m wrong, but most only children I’ve known. It’s like, well, I, I wanted my kids to have a different experience than that. I have more than one child because I always wish that I did have a Sibling for sure.
2 (14m 11s):
100%. Yes. Write. And so, and so, or like I know like I have one mom that I know that’s in my mastermind and she had her kids like three kids super close in age because she had, she has siblings, but her siblings are 10 plus years older than her. So she got it. She saw them being so close and then she was like on an Island by herself and she, you know, and so she was like, I want, I want to make sure that my kids don’t have that same experience. So most of us bring something to the table where, and that’s where, you know, when you practice the Q-tip when you have a child that is exploding are doing whatever and it, and you were saying in your head, like, this is not personal.
2 (14m 57s):
This is not about me. This is about them. And you get yourself in check and keep your mindset where it needs to be like, that’s a huge part of the equation. Well, it’s the same Hear. And so when I’m teaching my Sibling Fighting tool, I’m, there’s a whole Parenting pre-work part, which is let’s get clear about what What narrative, your bringing into the equation. Hear so what is your birth order? You know, where were you categorized? Where are you? The older sibling who constantly got in trouble because you aren’t, you know, you were bigger and you weren’t being gentle enough and you weren’t including them or whatever it was.
2 (15m 40s):
Or were you the younger sibling who constantly felt like you were powerless and you know, you didn’t get included or whatever. So, you know, so everybody brings something to the table. And so I think it’s important just to, you know, that’s just, self-awareness where it’s like, lets go through this exercise so we can just figure out like if you’re human, you’re going to bring something to the table. Let’s just put it out there and understand what it is so that when that comes up for you and your kids or Fighting like it does for your husband. And you’re able to be like, Hey, Hey, I, I don’t really think it meant that it’s like, Oh, well I’m this isn’t brand new information.
2 (16m 24s):
I went through this little exercise. I know what my narrative is and I’m not going to make this about me. I’m going to say calm and clear so that I can be the grownup here. And my kids need me to be without putting my old story on them.
1 (16m 37s):
Well, I mean, just like you said, even being an only child, I certainly have many things that I bring to the table with my children, even not having had a sibling. And I think one of those things, which many of us can relate too, is just needing to be seen, wanting my parent’s to be proud of me, wanting them to acknowledge my accomplishments. And I noticed with my oldest daughter and so she’s almost four or something has started where she really wants me to see that she has done something better than her sister would have. Look, mommy, I’m being quiet while Violet’s crying. Look, mommy, I put my stuff away and violet didn’t and immediately I go to this place where I’m like, I want you to know that I I’m proud of you. And I want you to know that you don’t need to compare yourself to your sister.
1 (17m 18s):
How do I communicate that to you? How do I make? And then, and then I can see myself. I’m like, okay, this is not, I’m reading probably way too much into this, but I want her to understand that, you know, even when she’s being, even when she’s being quiet, that’s great that she is being quiet. I don’t need her to tell me that she’s being quiet in her sister. Isn’t what would you say to, to me, I guess in that sense?
2 (17m 41s):
Yes. Okay. So this, so I see the Sibling Fighting and I know everybody is going to be like, well, what I’ve see it always as an opportunity to teach our kids super valuable skills that are going to benefit them outside the home and possibly for the rest of their lives and, and present it. Right. And so, and so I would say, what she’s presenting you with is I at almost four have received a message unintentionally. Cause I know you and I know your reading and your, you know, look You you have me on this podcast all the time.
2 (18m 24s):
Cause you were like, I really just want you to know. I want to ask you questions. And so you’re seeking your learning, your reading. You really want to get this right. Okay.
1 (18m 35s):
I do. But they might have gotten that wrong this far. I won’t give myself that much credit, but you go ahead,
2 (18m 41s):
I’ll do it. You know, we, we all do all the time. And so it’s all the way up.
1 (18m 45s):
Well, you know, her sister is this quiet, you know, child. I mean my, my spirited daughter is my oldest and I definitely, I worked my tail off everyday to make sure that she never has any idea that one of them is fundamentally less challenging in certain situations just by nature because I realized that that’s their nature. I never compare them to each other, but I’m sure subconsciously, I mean, she can probably tell the difference in the way that we treat them because I’m a human being. So I’m sure that it has something to do or maybe that’s where you’re going, has something to do with Why. She would want me to know that she was being quieter.
2 (19m 24s):
Well, you know, this is what I’ll say. It is part of being a human is constantly learning, growing. And the way we learn and grow is to make mistakes and to then be self-aware enough to be like, ah, okay, not that, what do I do? Is that right? So what do I do instead? Okay. So the message that she unintentionally got, this is what I, this is my hunch. Is that what I call it? External motivation, external validation. And so, you know, the goal really is it’s, Why, I’m, I’m very anti rewards and punishments.
2 (20m 5s):
So sticker charts and, and all those types of things where sometimes you can get a kid to feel motivated to do something or to cooperate or to have certain types of behavior through giving them some kind of a positive reinforcement sticker chart situation. It only works temporarily. Eventually it will backfire because what it does is it instills this idea that they are doing things for constant, external validation, someone else’s is going to tell them that they’re doing the right thing and they’re going to give him a sticker cookies or something. Right. And that really the goal really is to help our kids be internally motivated internally validated by doing the right thing.
2 (20m 53s):
Just because, just because it feels good to do the right thing. And this is, you know, this is contrary to old school. Parenting beliefs, old school Parenting beliefs was that humans are going to do the wrong thing. Unless you give them some kind of carat to do the right thing. It was like this. It was like this, this, this inherent belief system that humans were sort of going to do the wrong thing. And what we know now is that that’s actually not the case little kids when you don’t accidentally get in the way and give them things like sticker charts and, and constant praise for things that they should just be doing anyway, and feeling good about doing they, they feel good about doing the right thing.
2 (21m 41s):
They feel good about cooperative behavior. They feel good about kindness when we know how to support them in fostering more of that behavior. And so when she is saying, look at me, look at me, look at me. It’s basically saying, I need you to tell me your proud of me. I need you to notice that I did this thing. I don’t have enough internally just to sort of validate myself and celebrate myself. Now, what it would look like is, and this is super controversial, even to the point that my kids best my chops on this, but I’m pretty anti saying, I’m proud of you.
2 (22m 23s):
I, and, and, and, and, and so my, my kids, because they’re older at 22 years old and 19 and 14, they will bust my chops because they’ll say, yeah, my son just graduated from college. And he’s like, don’t you want to tell me? You’re proud of me that I just graduated in four years with a blood or blood GPA. And I’ve got a job and this, that, and the other. And I’m like, are you proud of you? And he was like, at this point in time, you can tell me, you’re proud of me. And I’m like, are you proud of you, your honor?
1 (22m 55s):
It is. I tell my kids, I’m even just this morning. One of my ways of diffusing, one of these situations with my daughter and the car asking for my approval, she asked me if I was proud of her. And I said, I’m always proud of you. And now you’re telling me, so I’m like, Oh, well, I mean, yeah. I tell her I’m proud of her all the time. So I’m interested in hearing more of this.
2 (23m 12s):
So, so yeah. Are you proud of you and then heal when they pushed me? I’m like, I am proud to be your mom all the time, even when you were showing up as the worst version of yourself, because I love you that much, right? Like, I’m your number one fan. I love you that much. I love you. Even when your not likable. So then you say that. Yeah. And I say, you know, and so, so am I proud of you? I’m proud to be your mom because I think you’re an amazing human. And so when they’re little and they are like, look at me and look at me and looked at me, which is super normal, because that’s like, like, that’s it,
1 (23m 53s):
It was because I’m like totally, you know, freaking out over here that my kid asked me if I’m proud of her, like every five seconds,
2 (23m 59s):
It was just a small tweak. It’s a small time. And she, so she, so when she’s saying, look at me, look at me, look at me. It’s really that on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs the need to belong. And she saying that this is my path. You are my pack leader. This is a primal. I need to know you see me. And I matter. And so I’m just needing a little extra support in this moment. I just want to know that’s why the little kids to the park, like if you go to a park with a friend and you’re sitting and chatting, you’re like, it’s perfect. Will sit and we’ll share it. And the kids can play. And then every five minutes, your kids’ like, and really, they’re just saying like, Hey, you’re my, you’re my touch point.
2 (24m 44s):
Like, Oh, you know, I was playing, I was having fun, but I need to know, do you see me? Do, you know, let me know. I matter, that will help me to feel more grounded. And so when she is saying, you know, it’s, you know, look, I did this. And you’re like, all you do, instead of saying, I’m so proud of you, if she says, are you proud of me saying, you look at her and say to you, yes, you were being so quiet, come here
1 (25m 9s):
Or whatever it is, what she’s doing,
2 (25m 11s):
And then you, and then you really, she’s just basically, it’s your mindset of, she needs to, you know, she probably feels a bit unsettled right now because when someone is crying, especially for little kids where they live in their emotional brain’s the majority of the time, that’s why they are so prone to meltdowns, especially spirited ones. There is something that happens within us as humans that is called co-regulation. And so it’s that, it’s really hard to be totally unaffected when somebody is out of control emotionally around you. And so it’s like, it’s like our mirror neurons kick in is when somebody yawns in you all of a sudden, the Dion to, right.
2 (25m 52s):
So, so we’re, you know, we, we co-regulate with other people. So her sister’s crying and she’s naturally a sensitive, nervous system, spirited kid. She is feeling and taking all of that in it’s. It’s a lot for her not to have her nervous system go wacky in that moment. And so she’s basically meeting some grounding from you. So when she is saying, look at the, I stayed quiet. Even one sister was crying. She is basically saying, I need to, as a touch point right now, just to remind me that I’m grounded, that I’m safe, that my nervous system can relax. It, it doesn’t have to go out of whack right now. And so
1 (26m 32s):
Something we can say in that scenario is look at you. You’re, you’re doing such a, you know, look at you. You’re so calm or look at you.
2 (26m 39s):
I say, I would say, yes. I, you know, I like the low, the low and slow FM DJ voice, which is very grounding. When anyone around you is starting to have like, like behavior where you can tell their nervous system is going a little wonky in that moment, when you do this low and slow late night FM DJ voice, which is, which is like, and it’s very M it helps them to feel calmer. It also is very assertive and loving. And so you look at her and your like, look at You yes, you are calm here, come here.
2 (27m 20s):
So what is
1 (27m 21s):
Sister, for example, has just walked right into the coffee table. This happened last week, got in a huge booboo on her head is hysterically crying. And after my oldest, who’s very loving, very loving, wants to check on her, making sure she’s okay. Then she wants to talk about how she’s not
2 (27m 39s):
1 (27m 41s):
And to explain that it’s not a bad thing, that violet is so bad,
2 (27m 45s):
Is that so she’s not crying because really she wants to cry something scary just happened. And that’s her sister. And she loves her. And it is scary. She got hurt. She felt the fear and shock on your face and in your body, she took,
1 (28m 1s):
Okay. Do you want, do you want to cry or do you feel sad, right?
2 (28m 3s):
No, I would do it. This is what I was going to say is you do the low and slow FM DJ voice just to help ground her. And then you pull her close to you, like get her close to you and give her a little physical touch. Like either just gently stroke her arm. Give her a little kiss on her cheek. Look into her eyes and say, yeah, you did stay calm. And that was really helpful. It was scary. When sister hurt herself high on you, you stayed calm in that. Maybe felt a little scary. Were you feeling scared for her? Where are you feeling? Tell me how you were feeling. If she’s like, no, we feel it’s dynamic. Sorry, go ahead. And she’s like, no, I wasn’t feeling so.
2 (28m 45s):
It doesn’t matter if you guess wrong because you’re just connecting with her. You’re seeing her, you’re touching her. You’re letting her know she’s safe. So sister just got hurt and now she’s safe. Now look, she may look, be looking for that external validation from you because there’s been a, there’s been a lot of, are you proud of me? Are you proud of me? Yes. I’m proud of you or are you proud of me? Yes, I am proud of it. So we’re going to eat, you know, that’s the beauty of doing this work when you have only a four-year-old because its really, you can turn this around very quickly when she’s asking you, how are you proud of me? Are you proud of me? Say, come here and tell me more or are you proud of me? Are you proud of you or are you feeling calm in your body right now? Tell me how you’re feeling calm. I love to turn it back on her to start talking or anything she says, I want you to mirror back because mirroring back is just empathy.
2 (29m 33s):
It’s just active listening and empathy and it lets her know you are not alone. I right here, I got you. Come here. I’m grounding. You, you did stay calm for your sister. You are this supportive, loving big sister. I saw how you went and got the booboo bear right away. You were concerned about your sister, weren’t you? Yeah, that was kind of scary. I was kind of scared to go whenever you guys hurt yourselves. That’s the last thing I want and thank you for How. Yeah. Thank you for helping me make thank you is not saying I’m proud of you. Thank you for helping me take care of her, helping violet to feel safe.
2 (30m 14s):
You know, she’s, you know, you’re a really an amazing big sister and you did help her to feel safe in to help her feel better right away. And that was really kind and beautiful.
1 (30m 24s):
Mm. I love that. That’s a really wonderful guidance and I definitely am going to put that into practice. The other thing I think about when I’m listening to you is I noticed most of my questions and this is probably has to do with their age difference is they are about my oldest and how to handle her big emotions. When she has a bigger emotions than my younger daughter, she is my spirited child. And I always think is my youngest going to notice that, that we spend all of this time calming her nervous system down. My youngest doesn’t necessarily seem to need that in the same degree, but I always, of course, in the back of my head and wondering, is it going to look like I’m giving your older sister more attention
2 (31m 5s):
Maybe? And it, it might, I mean, I have a podcast called the other child, which is when you have a spirited kid, when you have a strong-willed kid, so much of your attention goes to that child. And what happens quite often when people come like into my program, because my tools, I say they were designed for the strong-willed kids, the strong-willed kids or what bring us to learning these tools. And they’re really just communication tools. So they’re amazing for all kids, all kids benefit from these tools, not just our strong-willed ones, but when people come into the program, usually the thing that, you know, the problem they’re trying to solve is how do I get my strong-willed child to stop being?
2 (31m 52s):
So strong-willed right. And right. So the tool’s usually a pretty magical with our strongest kids and we’re really focused on them. And what always seems to happen is just when you start to have all of these amazing things happening with your strong-willed child and then your other child whose been your super easy one, starts acting up
1 (32m 18s):
A result of the oldest getting the most attention or the spirited child getting more attention.
2 (32m 22s):
Yeah. It’s almost like the, the one’s and obviously this is all anecdotal, but it’s just what I’ve seen. It’s it’s interesting. It’s almost like the ones with the, with the naturally kind of more chill temperaments. They wait, they wait until like, while everything is really kind of explosive or chaotic are, you know, their, their, their Sibling that has the strong will is taking over the kids that are a little more chill. They sorta know that like we don’t have the threshold to deal with everything at once. So once the strong-willed child is in a better place, a lot of times they start to act out and it’s like, okay, it’s my turn.
2 (33m 4s):
Now I’ve been waiting. And I would like a little bit more attention. I’m sick of it being the strong-willed Sibling show. Like I like that
1 (33m 13s):
We have about that as parents, because I mean, I’ve talked about this with my husband. Many times we did last weekend, we were like discussing treating them more equally. And it was just the most bizarre, unnatural. Like, it didn’t make any sense thing we’ve ever tried. And it’s like, do we go into this proactively as parents and try to perhaps to not give this spirited child more attention. I’m from the beginning when clearly, I mean my spirited child very much, it needs my attention or there are other ways that we can deal with it. So that the one who perhaps it needs a little bit less doesn’t feel like she doesn’t have room to be wherever she is,
2 (33m 52s):
Is that, you know, one of the hardest things to learn how to do is with our spirit of kids, because we, especially when we are so pro-active, I think that we accidentally a lot of times give them too much power in the household. And, and, and, and so just even that that’s on y’all’s radar, chances are that might be happening. And one of the greatest things you can do is learning how, when she’s being the most challenging and she’s had, like, let’s say, she’s, you’re trying to do everything possible to avoid the meltdown. Right? Like, and I think that’s super common is, you know, I hope we get things, you know, things are better and they’re, and they, and it’s good enough, but we’re still sort of sometimes tiptoeing around trying to say it, just so trying to make sure everything’s just so that the schedule doesn’t ever get, you know, right.
1 (34m 49s):
Oh, that’s how we grow up. Absolutely living our lives before quarantine happened. It was just like, we were all in this rigid schedule because of my oldest, but it’s not something. Or if my youngest was my first child and our family wouldn’t even operate that way.
2 (35m 4s):
And so, and so one of the best things to do is if you noticed that, that everybody is kind of tiptoeing around, I say, it’s a little bit of walking on eggshells around the spirit as a kid. It’s just, that just means that your, that your strong-willed one has a little too much power in the household and that’s actually causing your strong-willed child to feel less regulated in their body because they know it’s not supposed to be that way. Like they know it, they, they don’t realize they know it, but they do. And so that just means that you are one of the greatest things you can learn, how to do is that when you have a plan in place for when they’re, you know, taking over the household with some sort of a meltdown, and there has to be a plan that was discussed ahead of time, and it’s in place for when they’re having all of these big emotions and where they sort of have to work it out and, and you disengage from that and you allow them to kind of develop the skills to work out that meltdown and then com and re-emerge with the family where you’re not allowing that household hijack to happen anymore.
1 (36m 21s):
Yes. Our household hijack, I think, has definitely been happening around bedtime. She will like if she doesn’t have really clear boundaries around bedtime, it just, it it’s her way of really getting what she wants all at once. And we went on, we do have very tight boundaries around bedtime as a result of that. And we just went on this week. We want on this trip to Colorado for about two weeks. And of course all the rules were gone. We all slept in each other’s bed. We had the best time ever, but we came home and getting back into that routine. We probably didn’t do that quite quickly enough. And I just felt like last night I was saying to my husband, I feel like Selma is running this house at bedtime. Like I’m getting nervous before bedtime. And that’s how I knew something.
1 (37m 2s):
We, we need, we need our rules back. And I can tell that she feels unregulated when she feels like she’s running the show. Even if it’s something she is saying she wants, that’s not really what any kid
2 (37m 13s):
That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. And so, you know, so something like that, that I think it, and recently we taught a meltdown workshop in my program. I have a woman who works with me, who’s a Mastermind parenting coach. And it also happens to be a licensed occupational therapist. And she was, she talks about the disengagement during a meltdown, you know? And it was interesting because many of the parents were like, what does, tell me, what does disengagement looks like? And she said, they were like, how does that not abandonment, you know, where you sort of like leaving your child alone to kind of work it out. And
1 (37m 50s):
Yes. So tell me, what does this engagement look like as opposed to abandonment?
2 (37m 54s):
So disengaged she’s a disengagement is actually the most loving thing you can do, because what we’re seeing in our program is some of the parents who don’t come into learning this until they’re, our kids are like, you know, close to the teenage years or in the teenage years, is that these kids have never learned a better skills and tools to help their bodies get back into a place of feeling regulated. And she said, it’s because they would have these explosions and then, you know, mom or dad, or is trying to shut it down or do everything just so, and then the explosion happens and then maybe Fighting ends up happening. And when the Fighting ends up happening and its back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and a struggle, I’m the child actually experiences and a little bit of an adrenaline rush when that’s happening.
2 (38m 44s):
And so they’ve used that as a tool to help their body feel more regulated. They have Fighting can actually be a tool that alters you, you know, biochemically, it alters your hormones. And so when you disengage from the child, like if you have your plan in place, which is, here’s the deal, here’s your, you know, like I’ve called it a lot of different things, but a safe space, a calm down spot. I’m at one point we were saying the calm down corner, but I don’t like how that sounds ’cause it sounds to me like you’re putting somebody in a corner of putting it down for that. But like, I, I personally always called it the calm down spot for my kids, which was when my son, my youngest was two and a half.
2 (39m 27s):
Every for like six months, it would be like at the dinner table, he just, he had all of his favorite people around and he just couldn’t control himself. Like he needed, you know, he was getting up, he was getting down, he was disrupting, he was this, he was that. And then, you know, two and a half year olds know like, like negative attention gets me a lot of attention paying for the buck. So a negative behaviors gets me a lot of attention. So then that he would, sometimes we would act out and it was this and that. And I would send them away from the table to his calm down spot until he could come back and follow the rules at the table. And, and so the disengagement is me taking them to the calm down spot. And really it was not, it was like, he, you know, the child chooses It, so he’s stay in this spot with him, or you let him in this spot on his own.
2 (40m 15s):
So when you’re initially setting it up, you stay there with them usually because it takes that, you know, where they start to realize, like their not being banished two a corner, its not anything that, you know, they are welcome to come back and rejoin the family as soon as they’re able to then follow the rules. But while they’re not able to follow the rules, here’s this safe space where you get to go and you get to calm down your body and take some breasts. And he chose my dog’s bed, which at the time my dog was a major stuffed animal stealer. And so it was like this dog VAT in the quarter of our family room. That was Real that was within eyesight of my kitchen and piled high with all these stuffed animals that it probably had dogs fed all over it.
2 (40m 58s):
Anyway, I’m wasn’t in love with them, help you choose. So yeah, he chose that as his spot and that’s where he would go in the first couple of times I sat there with him kind of facing out and I just kind of, you know, held him and I was just kind of breathing. And I was saying, your body is, your body is out of control right now. You weren’t able to follow the rules. We’re just going to sit here until we can go back and have dinner with everyone else and follow the rules and have a nice time. But until that happens, we’re just gonna sit here and take some breaths. And then, you know, within a day or two, I mean he’s really an easy kid. So even as little one, he was easy. So probably I did that one time, but with a stronger work page, you may have to do it more than one time.
2 (41m 39s):
And then I would, you know, when he would come back to the table, I would say, are you ready to follow the rules? And if you had like a loud voice or do you think that I was like, it doesn’t seem like it yet. You need to go back and continue calling me your body down. And then like he, then he would yell mommy. And I would say, you know, you don’t sound and sound like it. It doesn’t sound like your mom gets when your voice matches mine and then I’ll know your calm. Let’s do it.
1 (42m 4s):
The back to that little kid who only went to the calm down spot one time. So we were talking about how to navigate that or are we, pro-active about making sure that we are giving that child the attention that they need as best we can, which in some cases can feel completely impossible or are we addressing this as it becomes an issue as the child gets older? What are your suggestions around that?
2 (42m 26s):
So I think that the way you address it, it is actually by stopping the household hijack with your strong one and, and look, I mean, I teach something called present, engaged time with each kid five to 15 minutes a day, present, engaged time, you know, ideally one-on-one where it’s just like, you were just filling up their little love cup and they have five to 15 minutes with, with you. And so it’s like, you know, you’re a pro and I think it’s, it helps with your own mindset, which is like, we have a really connecting a few moments at this time today and it was delicious and I loved it. And so you don’t have that guilt of, Oh, in my teaching this child that they are not important as important as their Sibling that they don’t ever come first.
2 (43m 13s):
No, I did this president gauge time and it was a really beautiful time for us. And so I can feel self-assured that, that happened.
1 (43m 21s):
I love it. That’s wonderful. I love it. I love it. So tell me a little bit, let’s talk about competition. So there’s something about, okay. I’m, you know, I want you to say that I’m proud of me. Look at me. I just went down to the slide five times, but what about my classroom is bigger than my sister’s or I’m, you know, my shoes are more sparkly than my sisters. I find myself responding to my oldest when she says things like that with things like it really doesn’t matter how big everybody’s classroom is. And I say that, and I think that’s not what I want to be saying, but I don’t really know how to do it.
2 (43m 51s):
And so she look seven, they say 70% they air quotes. They say 77% of communication is non-verbal. So she knows her. She knows you guys have a sparkle in your eye. Her sister is she’s easier. She’s easier to parent. She sees the enjoyment level and she’s, there’s a little bit of an insecurity of, see, I am better at things. I am. Look, look at me, look at me. And so that’s the thing that that would be my hunch on what’s going on there. And so she just needs a little reassurance in those moments.
2 (44m 32s):
And so the best way to give her that reassurance is again, the low and slow F a late night FM DJ voice, and pulling her close to you when she is saying her sparkly shoes or her classroom’s bigger and you pull their clothes and you make direct eye contact and touch your face, softly, touch her arm softly and say, you love your sparkly shoes. Huh? You want to me to know to tell me I love it. You know, what do you love about them? Yeah. What else yet? They are super sparkly and they are more sparkly. And so, Oh, you think they are more sparkly? Huh? I never thought of it that way. Maybe they are. Okay. Yeah. So maybe not.
1 (45m 12s):
Oh, I love that. I can’t wait. I’m going to listen to this again. And I can’t wait to use that because that’s something that we have definitely been dealing with a lot. I was reading some articles in preparation for this Interview and the internet seems divided on Sibling conflict as parents do we step in or not? It was almost as though every other article was making the opposite recommendation. Some of them said, if you’re, if you have children who are arguing with each other, allow them to sort it out as best they can before stepping in. And the other ones suggested being very proactive about stepping in as soon as possible in helping them resolve those conflicts. What’s your take on that?
2 (45m 46s):
So my take is that the Sibling relationship is this beautiful opportunity to teach conflict resolution. And these are skills that they’re going to have with them forever. And I think that, that you don’t step in OK. You don’t step in when it’s going on, if you can help it. Okay. Hmm. Number one, first and foremost, safety is always an issue. So the violence, you know, so when it comes to share it though, and I said, the two biggest issues that people have are sharing and violence. And so if its violence, yes, you stepped in and a M and you know, look, there is some pre-work that has to happen where we’re having conversations of what are the rules of the household.
2 (46m 40s):
The rules are in the playroom, the toys and the playroom, our community choice. And if there, you know, if there is something that is a very, very special that you got for your birthday and you absolutely don’t want to share it, you can keep it in your room. And maybe, you know, you’ll allow them to have a certain number of toys that are special and they are kept in their room in their toys that they’re not ready to share yet because they’re just so new. And they were just so special. And, and, and I think even before a play date, that can be for kids that have a hard time sharing, because you have to remember like kids, especially magical thinking kids, which is what we want them to do, which is why we buy them toys.
2 (47m 26s):
And my kids were all big toy players. Like they would go, it was important to me, for them to like sit and play with their toys and have their imagination. And, and I love having the toys they are for them to play with cars. I love sitting in watching them, like, Do like, like what’s going on in their heads, you know, like I’m not even involved and there’s, they’re sitting there and they’re playing. And I just think it’s just such a beautiful thing to work on that too, to watch that childhood magic. And, and so, so having those rules in place of where are the toys, what are the sharing rules? And, and we’ve really established it and we’ve established what the rules are for sharing we’ve established when you take a toy out.
2 (48m 11s):
And when you’re done playing with that toy, where the toy goes afterwards, you know, so that you get them in the habit of taking care of their things, taking, you know, putting things away, understanding that, that there is a certain way they can feel self-assured that there’s a certain way toys are played with so that they don’t have to worry if something super special and its in the community area. And now they’re Sibling is playing with It that they’re gonna break it. You know, because a lot of times we see kids being, we think that they’re being selfish, but it’s really just that they’re really worried that this super special toy, which to them is like, like my daughter, her little figurines, her Polly pockets, and then her stuffed animals, like they were to her, they were real life.
2 (48m 57s):
Like they were her friends, they were so special to her. So if all of a sudden a sibling is playing with something that’s so special to you, you just want to have a little bit of reassurance that, that they’re gonna play with it in a way that the toy is going to stay safe. And I think that’s, you know, that’s understandable. So we just have to have those rules kind of ahead of time. And we also have to have the rules for what kind of family are we? And if we’re a family that if period end of story, we are in no violence household, you know, that means violent hands, violent words. So we always use soft hands kind words, name calling, grabbing, pushing, hitting, like never going to be tolerated our, how our home has to feel safe for everyone.
2 (49m 42s):
And so if we’re very, if we see one child doing something violent to another child, we have to get involved, especially when they’re a little, because safety is our number one priority and someone’s not safe in that situation. So sometimes especially, and I’ve heard this a lot with strong-willed kids where they get real territorial over there things and, and parents really worry because they don’t want to have this stingy kid, you know, and nobody likes the stingy. Nobody likes the stingy kid. And so they get really worried about it. And I just want to put it up there for people that it’s very common for people with sensitive nervous systems when they feel not regulated inside their body.
2 (50m 30s):
Okay. So they’re our nervous system. It’s like, Oh, and when we’re older, the way we identify that as will feel anxiety, we feel nervous. We feel a pit in our stomach. So for little kids, they don’t know how to define that. And when they’re feeling in some way, dysregulated in their nervous system, that can feel very grounding and out of control inside their bodies. And when you feel out of control inside your body, you tend to want to control things outside your body. And one of the number one ways that it seems like these kids who are kind of feeling disregulated a lot, they are the way they present is being super territorial over there things.
2 (51m 14s):
And so when all of a sudden you’ve got another three-year-old four-year-old five-year-old six-year-old, seven-year-old coming over your eyes. You may notice during play dates that they’re like, Oh no, that’s my, no, you can’t play with us. And then you were having to intervene and your like, Oh my gosh, I have the stingy kids. This can’t be. And then you give him a lecture and your like you can’t, you have a friend over, you’ve got to share yada yada, yada, we go into a lecture and it never results in your child’s learning how to share it. So the way you handle that is before, if you have a child who’s prone to this behavior before they have a play date coming over and they’re excited about their play date coming over it, and you sit down with them and you say, you’re so excited about your friend coming over.
2 (51m 56s):
And I want you to know that while your friend is here, they are gonna be playing with you’re things. And when they leave all of your things, stay here. I will make sure of that. So you don’t have to worry. You don’t have to worry at all. I will make sure that everything stays here and while our friends are here, we share, we play, we enjoy them together. But when they leave, they stay the toys stay here. Now let me ask you something. It can sometimes be hard to share your most favorite thing. So do you have one thing that you’d like me to put away on a top shelf?
2 (52m 36s):
It’s not going to be played with by you or them while they’re here, but it’s just something that you are not really willing to share for during the play day. Is there one thing you want me to put away that just kind of off limits?
1 (52m 50s):
I w I think what you’re describing right now is so beautiful because you were teaching your teaching your child, ultimately to do that for themselves. And how many adult? I mean, I think about my life as an adult. And what you just described is something that I do, not around my toys, but around my emotional bandwidth or many other things. And it’s like, you’re our kid. We forget that our children can’t do that for themselves. It seems obvious because there are so tiny, but we forget it many times we really need to step in and show them how that’s done. And that’s really what you’re describing.
2 (53m 23s):
And it’s also describing look, I mean, and one, the number one things I’ve noticed with, with women, including myself, is learning how to have boundaries. And so it’s really teaching them at a very young age that they’re worthy of boundaries. Like you can have something that you were like, Hey, I’m come, come into my house here, my space to play with me, to enjoy my toys while you were here. And there was actually one thing that I can choose to just keep sacred and special, and it’s not, it’s going to be off the table and I’m allowed to do that. I’m worthy of doing that.
1 (53m 59s):
And that’s so important. And I hear so many moms, myself have so much included. I feel like we’ve all had that first experience where we have our friends are, our kids’ friend comes over and we sort of just by nature of our society and maybe the way we were raised immediately sort of completely de-value whatever our child’s feelings are in favor of our guests. So of course you can play whatever you want. Don’t worry, don’t worry. Don’t worry. And kind of give our kids in this example of your not important when somebody else’s here. And I know I have done that before. I’ve, I’ve heard friends. I have, I know someone else who hosts a podcast who does, who described that scenario with her daughter?
1 (54m 40s):
And she ran into a, a friend on this street and, and the friend asked about her daughter’s outfit. And she was like, Oh, that, that is just nothing. We just got that, you know, on sale a few years ago. And she thought, why did I say that in front of that’s my kid’s favorite outfit, but we sort of do that because that’s how we treat ourselves. And that’s such a beautiful example of how to really proactively step out of that.
2 (55m 1s):
Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, I think it’s also good because it’s like, it’s also say it. So it’s teaching our kids boundaries and it’s also proactively teaching our kids. Hey, they were not even going to discuss this toy while they’re here. Because if you discuss it, then it sort of like your saying it’s mine and you can’t play with it. And that’s actually unkind. So this is just something special that you know about. Mommy will put it away. You’ll know that it’s a way you’ll know that it’s something that you can, you can play with it later. And it’s not something that will even talk about with our friends, because this is something that is special to you. We’re just going to keep it away. So it also kind of teaches them, like, know, I have This and you can play with it too.
2 (55m 45s):
You know, you’re proactively kind of addressing that as well.
1 (55m 49s):
So a wonderful Randi I could talk to you for hours and I will, because we’re going to do part two of this episode. So stay tuned. There’s more of a Randi to come. And Randy, thank you so much for that.
0 (55m 58s):
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0 (56m 39s):
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0 (57m 20s):
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