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260: Hunt, Gather, Parent Your Family: Resolving Sibling Rivalry (Part 2)

Sibling rivalry is such a big topic, you just know my conversation with Michaeleen Doucleff had to be a two-parter. In this second episode, we’re talking about what motivates siblings to fight in the first place: strong societal expectations of tension between siblings, and parental praise that kids can’t help but take as a comparison. We’ll show you a whole different way to imagine the sibling relationship, that’s built on empathy and cooperation instead of competition. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  1. How to shift our thinking and set expectations for sibling cooperation instead of competition.
  2. The way well-intentioned praise can inadvertently encourage toxic comparison between siblings.
  3. How to cultivate empathy for both toddlers and teenagers when they’re struggling to handle their emotions.

And much more! 

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


About Randi Rubenstein

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

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

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

Randi’s Web and Social Links

About Our Guest

Michaleen Doucleff is an award-winning global health correspondent and the author of Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans.

Links & Resources

Thanks so much for listening to the Mastermind Parenting podcast, where we support the strong willed child and the families that love them!

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[00:00:00] Randi Rubenstein: So when we think about praise, you know, even when you think you’re just focusing on one kid and you’re not talking about the other kid at all, kids connect the dots. And so they are going to compare themselves to the child that’s getting praise. Like it’s always going to be, I think that’s the problem is that comparison is the unspoken part of it.

[00:00:24] Michaeleen Doucleff: Absolutely. It’s implicit. Right. And so, we just have this thinking in our society that like the more praise the better and praise can do no harm. In fact, if you don’t do it, you’re doing harm, but it is. I mean, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Praise is not necessary. It’s something that we’ve only really done in the last 30, 40 years, 50 at the most. And it does have these repercussions, some pretty big repercussions that we don’t talk about.

[00:00:51] Randi Rubenstein: My name is Randi Rubenstein, and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast. At Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them. 

[00:01:01] Hi everyone. How was your week? How’s everybody doing? Oh, I have growling dogs welcoming you to the episode I’m recording. It’s raining today. they heard something. It’s raining in Houston. What a shock. so what’s, what’s going, how’s, how’s your October going? You guys gearing up for Halloween and all that good stuff?

[00:01:26] I know I have a podcast episode, we will link to it in the show notes, all about Halloween and candy and having a plan so that Halloween is fun and not stressful. So I made that, last year, um, check that out. And, if you haven’t listened to part one of my conversation with Michaeleen Doucleff, author of Hunt, Gather, Parent, all about sibling rivalry, sibling fighting, stop the recording right now and listen to last week’s episode. This is part two of that conversation. So there you go. Enjoy.

[00:02:07] Let me run a real life story by you, that literally happened when my daughter was home. So you know, I’ve told you that like right now, Corey is in very teenage, like he’s very teenagery. He’s 17, he’s a senior in high school, he goes back and forth with me a lot. So he’s in this stage.

[00:02:30] And so I kind of, you know, was talking to you about like the whole job debacle. And Avery was home and she was here at first with her boyfriend and then the boyfriend left and Corey was, being attitudy towards her, too. So Avery and I were running around one day and running errands and something came up about Corey and she starts venting to me. And she’s like, I’m annoyed with him because X, Y, and Z. 

[00:03:00] And I said, I know he’s 17. He’s a teenager. And she’s like. I was like, it’s annoying. There’s a lot of annoying things right now. It’s like, you know, I was like, there is, is time. I mean, it’s, it’s, I was like, you know, it’s actually, said to Avery, I said, you know, it’s actually what you’re supposed to do as a teenager.

[00:03:23] There’s a pruning away process that happens where you’re figuring out, like, how much do I have to agree with these people that I came from? And, And what am I like, what I think, what, you know, and so there’s a, there’s very much like, like… combativeness is part of like the human experience when you’re going through adolescence, because you’re kind of trying to figure out who are you, which parts are you keeping from these people, which parts are you developing within yourself that’s different from these people. So, um, I was like, 

[00:03:56] Michaeleen Doucleff: Your identity. 

[00:03:57] Randi Rubenstein: You have to have a super thick… yeah. You’re figuring out your identity. Like that, it’s like a huge part of developing as a human being going from childhood to adulthood. And for the people living with the teenager, yeah, it’s super annoying. Like, there’s a lot of like moments where you have to have a thick skin and you, it’s yeah, it’s super annoying.

[00:04:18] And Avery’s like, well, he’s not my kid. So I don’t, like I can just be annoyed with him. And and I was like hmm. And I said, but also, Cory was kind of all of our babies. We’ve all been raising him together. You know, I was like, you know, you’re 22 and we have all been raising him together. So I think he’s acting just like his teenagery self with you because in many ways you have been sort of like a pseudo mom to him, you know, over the years, which has been beautiful.

[00:04:57] And she was like, she was not up for it in that moment. She was like, well, whatever, he’s not my kid and it’s fucking annoying. That’s… she just wanted

[00:05:08] Michaeleen Doucleff: Wait, how old is she?

[00:05:09] Randi Rubenstein: She’s 22. She’s a senior in college. 

[00:05:11] Michaeleen Doucleff: 22. 

[00:05:12] Randi Rubenstein: What I ended up doing that night was, we all coordinated it. We were sitting around the dinner table and I didn’t discuss any of this stuff, but I just said, we need to figure out a time for Corey to go and visit Avery at school cause he hasn’t had a solo trip to visit her.

[00:05:33] And so my mind was knowing like they just haven’t had time together. And so right now, you know, and when she came home, she came with the boyfriend. So like, there’s a concentrated visit when she comes home from school where they get to reconnect and they hadn’t reconnected. She’s with the boyfriend, whatever.

[00:05:53] So I was like, okay, let’s coordinate and figure out a good weekend so that Corey can go visit. Because I’m like, I know like he’s going to go visit her. He’s going to stay at her house. He’s going to get to know her roommates there. He’s going to sleep in her bed. It’s going to be this bonding trip. And so I know that’s really ultimately what they need. 

[00:06:10] Michaeleen Doucleff: I love that. 

[00:06:11] Randi Rubenstein: It was that, that team. 

[00:06:13] Michaeleen Doucleff: I love that. I, the reconnection, you know, having some time. I mean, it’s similar to the Maya parents saying, okay, now you guys have to do each other’s laundry, right? 

[00:06:21] Randi Rubenstein: Now hsleep in the same bed together.

[00:06:23] Michaeleen Doucleff: Well, no, it’s interesting really, because when you, when I was preparing for this, podcast, I, one of my solutions to some of these problems is asking, like, do the kids sleep in the same room? 

[00:06:37] And I think that this is… this is like the under looked solution to a lot of sibling problems, at least pointing in the direction of solution is in many, and basically every other part of the world, kids, siblings sleep in the same room together, often in the same bed. And I do think it, it bonds them in a way that, you just can’t have if you’re separated. 

[00:07:00] And if so, it’s something that to think about. Um, I think for a lot of kids. You know, sleeping is this major issue in parents lives and in our country. And, um, I think it’s a solution to a lot of sleeping problems, but I also think it bonds the siblings in a way, that’s really, really helpful for both parties.

[00:07:18] The other thing I, that I was thinking of was, using it as a time of empathy. In this, maybe the 22 year old is, is different than, you know, a nine or 10 year old, but saying, my brother is so annoying. Oh, my gosh. And you, and you were getting there, right? You’re getting to this, like, he’s a, he’s an adolescent. He’s like, going through this time. 

[00:07:36] But it’s like, you know, I kind of feel sorry for him. Poor thing, right? He’s like struggling. And it’s a time where we kind of, you know, instead of annoyance and anger can kind of, if you can kind of see it as like, as a time to be empathetic towards him. And man, you know, it’s, it’s hard. Do you remember, you remember when you were 17, how hard it was and like,

[00:07:57] Randi Rubenstein: That’s what, I did say that. I did say that you know, think about it, right? Like it was yeah, like, knyo

[00:08:05] Michaeleen Doucleff: It sucks! 

[00:08:06] Randi Rubenstein: Mean, I’m like you look back on those years… because she brings it up to me all the time, god I was such a bitch to you from like 16 to 18. And I’m like, and you were supposed to be like, that is a normal part of human development. Like you were figuring it out. And she’s like, I know, but sometimes I just cringe when I think about like things, you like, yeah, I know. It’s, it’s sweet, you know, it’s sweet. But I’m like, yeah, like think about it. Like it’s such a hard stage… 

[00:08:38] Michaeleen Doucleff: Such a hard time. 

[00:08:39] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, it really is. And, and I think it’s hard to look at it with empathy because when you’re on the receiving end… and I get it, I mean, when I’m on the receiving end of him, you know, sometimes it’s like I have those days where I’m just like. I can’t take it. You know? Like was he was saying the other, we were, we were, I mean, we were watching The Bear. Did you watch that show? The Bear. 

[00:09:04] Michaeleen Doucleff: Some of it. 

[00:09:05] Randi Rubenstein: So both Alec and Corey, for some reason, they have like a hatred for, Sydney, the, um, millennial cook. 

[00:09:14] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. 

[00:09:15] Randi Rubenstein: And so they’re like, oh, like every time she, anything she says, I think she just, it seems too like try hard millennial, like oh, and, um, they both hate her. And so he’s like, she’s in my, um, worst hangout group ever. She’s a, she’s a member of the worst hangout group ever for me. And I was like, well, who else? I go, who else is in that group? I go, am I in that group? Cause he’s so annoyed with me so much at the time. 

[00:09:40] He was like, mom, why would you say that? Of course you’re not in that group. Why would you put yourself in that category? You would never be. I was like, I don’t know. I was thinking, you know, so it’s like 

[00:09:50] some days I get beaten down because I’m like, are you going to be putting me in the worst hangout group ever? Because it kind of seems like you sort of can’t stand me sometimes too. So it’s like sometimes, I mean, it’s hard to have empathy when you, you know, you get beaten down sometimes with those teenage years, but I get it.

[00:10:07] Michaeleen Doucleff: There’s an interesting study that I haven’t read in a long time, so don’t hold me to the specifics exactly, but it looks at the way parents. In European households treat adolescent angst versus the way Japanese parents treat it. And it’s really fascinating. The Japanese parents are much more, um, kind of empathetic and don’t argue there’s not so much conflict. They don’t get in these arguments. 

[00:10:35] It’s, it’s more like they treat them as like a little toddler, right? It’s like learning to, um… who doesn’t have understanding yet right and is irrational and illogical and they kind of brush off a lot of it And it’s more of this like poor thing,

[00:10:48] versus the kind of getting in the conflict and the power struggles And and so I can pull that up and send it to you.

[00:10:54] Randi Rubenstein: That’s so good. Yes. I love that.

[00:10:57] Michaeleen Doucleff: like we could try to figure out what how they do it because you’re right. I mean it gets, if somebody is slapping you emotionally in the face over and over again, it gets harder. It’s hard to have empathy. 

[00:11:08] Randi Rubenstein: Like to me, it’s like when it’s a toddler who’s tantruming, but when it’s like an articulate teenager who is also an expert on you. Like, I remember my older son, Alec, when he had one of those moments, like he like knew a hot button for me that I wasn’t even aware of. But he was like, who even likes you? Do you have any friends because like, who would like you?

[00:11:31] That’s what he said to me and I was like, oh I was like, oh my gosh. Do I have any friends? Maybe I’m not that likable, you know, it’s like my brain started going to that place so like when it’s a teenager who like is articulate and sometimes says things that you’re just like oh, man, that kind of stung. They’re a person that like is a way more developed human than a little toddler. It’s really hard like have that thick skin. 

[00:11:59] Michaeleen Doucleff: It reminds me of like going back to the Maya moms, and you know, one of the ways that they teach young children – so back to the younger children, you know, uh, three, four, five, six, to teens – is they do say to the, older sibling, like poor thing. This is a term I think that’s common. 

[00:12:19] It’s like poor, poor thing, you know, like if they’re trying to get the, the sibling to share or, you know, take care of them. Poor thing. Look, she, she doesn’t have a potato chip. Poor thing. She, nobody’s playing with her. 

[00:12:32] Um, and so it’s, it’s very, it’s really, the mother or the parent is, is acting as the, the child’s advocate for empathy, right? And, and expressing the child’s, needs, in a way that, that the older sibling can then see what she needs. Right. 

[00:12:50] Or they, they, and, and I, I, I do this with Rosie. I’ve done this with Rosie since she, since we traveled when she was three. And I, you see her do, saying that to others. I just say it to Matt even. Poor, poor thing, you know, so even Matt, poor thing.

[00:13:07] Randi Rubenstein: Because I think kids naturally consider, obviously, their perspective and aren’t really thinking about other people’s perspectives. Like that’s, you know, that perspective taking, um, is really something that develops as you get older, and…

[00:13:29] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah.

[00:13:29] Randi Rubenstein: sometimes doesn’t develop in people, unfortunately. Um, and so I think the poor thing tool is really helping a small child develop that skill of perspective taking from a very young age. 

[00:13:45] So it’s, you know, so often I think parents, you wait till like the story that I told at the very beginning when it starts to escalate and you see a power struggle and then there’s mean words that are being used and a smack upside the head. And then it’s like, oh, I got to put out this fire. 

[00:14:02] But what if most of our bandwidth is put on like proactive in terms of the skill building, which is out of the moment, we’re creating exactly what you said. Like it’s a team mentality. Um, they’re everyone’s books, right? And we work together, it’s a collaborative environment and we’re also putting our bandwidth on, you know, teaching the human skills like poor thing, which is really just this very cool way that humans were probably for thousands of years teaching perspective taking. 

[00:14:42] Which is, you know, you have potato chips, but then it’s like, oh, poor thing. He doesn’t have any potato chips, you know? 

[00:14:51] And so now all of a sudden the little kid gets to be a problem solver and it like taps it. Yeah. It’s like, and they start to notice like I have potato chips, but they don’t have potato chips. Oh, I’m going to go and give them a potato chip. 

[00:15:03] And then I know, you know, the hot topic that you’ve been talking about, right? Like, what does that do in terms of dopamine levels and all of those amazing hormones when you’re the one who gets to problem solve and give the potato chip to the poor thing who doesn’t have any potato chips. 

[00:15:20] Michaeleen Doucleff: And you’re giving the child an opportunity to create joy in themselves by sharing. Children, we, everybody that, I mean, there’s all this data, right? That like, if you’re giving, it’s more, it feels better. It triggers all these wonderful things in your brain than when you receive, right? And so you’re teaching the child, like from very early age, that this is a way of making yourself feel good by, by sharing. 

[00:15:42] You know, and, um, and it’s interesting because, yes, little kids don’t have the ability to see other people’s point of views, but when you start teaching it young, it happens very fast. I mean, four year old, five year old easily can be very empathetic towards a younger sibling and, it’s just about being taught, right? It really is. It’s, it’s, it’s not about some developmental kind of window or, or restriction. It’s, it’s really about young children are born with this toddlers are born with this and, and we either support it and, and amplify it, or we squelch it, you know? 

[00:16:23] And I think this, the poor thing in the, you know, like, when we were in the Arctic, I saw like a little 18 month old had a bag of chips and, um, the, the grandma said, go give Rosie a chip. Like, she told the little 18 year old to walk over there and he – 18 month old – and he walked over there and he, yeah. 

[00:16:39] And like, that’s when it, you know, and by the time they’re 3, 4, they’re not arguing over things. It’s sharing. Like I write in the book like when they get like a big thing of toys or whatever, it’s like an opportunity to share them all. The kid brings them in and shares them all, you know? And it, and so it is really about the culture of like, what do you do when you get a bunch of things? What do you do when you have food? What do you do when you have books, you know? 

[00:17:02] And, um, very young kids can learn it. It’s just about, you know, we often teach the opposite, right? We teach this is yours and this is his, and you can’t touch it unless he gives you permission to touch it. Right. And, kind of, this is coming back to the beginning of the podcast, right? So.

[00:17:19] Randi Rubenstein: It’s so good, but I, I think the joy that comes from the feel-good hormones that occur in a human’s body, whatever age they are, from going and connecting with another human being by sharing what you have, right? Something that you have and you’re enjoying and now you get to share it with someone else and then you get to experience what it feels like for them to be enjoying it alongside you. Um, there’s something that happens that is really powerful.

[00:17:53] And that’s the most powerful teacher because, you know, a little 18 month old who has learned what that feels like, they’re not going to resist. And, you know, you think of an 18 month old, a two year old. Mine! You know, going through that stage. Oh, it’s just the mine stage. Well, does it have to be the mine stage? What if we taught them these skills? 

[00:18:14] You know, people think empathy, you know, I hear this all the time, especially with the strong-willed kids. I don’t think my son has empathy, right? And I’m like, no, no, no, he absolutely has the capacity for empathy. Maybe it’s just that it hasn’t been, you know, it hasn’t been fostered yet.

[00:18:38] And so if we have a kid that’s been acting out and is in a state of defensiveness and is getting a lot of attention from all the things they’re doing wrong all the time, well then unfortunately what we focus on grows. That skill of, of, of becoming the wronger one is what’s been fostered rather than the skill of being the helpful one, the sharing one, the collaborative one.

[00:19:05] Michaeleen Doucleff: And it’s exactly what you said of like, the mom getting involved kind of did this, right? Like kind of amplified the behavior that a lot of, I mean, in, in a lot of parts of the world, just bad behavior is just ignored completely in the moment, you know? and then maybe there’s a discussion later that night with the child or a story that’s told or a drama that’s put out, you know, like, but in the moment, if you don’t want an action to happen again, completely ignoring it is going to be probably the most effective way 

[00:19:35] because it is an obvious signal to any child, to a person, right? If you’re just completely ignored, right? It’s like, wait, wait, wait, wait, because everybody wants to be seen. We’ve, we said that, right? So I, like, I totally agree. It’s like the more, emphasis we put on the bad behavior, it’s gonna just, you know, make it happen over and over again. 

[00:19:58] I mean, that’s conflict, right, is, is driven by the same forces, right? If we, the more conflict we infuse into our situations, the more the child learns to have conflict, right? Again, these are all like emotional muscles, right? That we’re just teaching children. 

[00:20:12] So, yeah, I would have just, just ignored it and then tried to reset kind of this expectation about what the, who’s, who’s is the book, who’s are these books, you know? Because clearly the little boy didn’t buy the book. I have a feeling.

[00:20:30] Randi Rubenstein: That’s right.

[00:20:31] Michaeleen Doucleff: Earn the money and bought it. No.

[00:20:34] Randi Rubenstein: No, and he actually wants to share the books and has been generous with his sister at home, but now all of a sudden was digging his heels in about her taking them to school. And so there was something else going on there. Um, but figuring out why are we power struggling so much and why is there, why are we trying to control each other versus working as a team, you know, I think in the heat of the moment when you… when you’re the mom and all of a sudden you got one kid whacking the other or saying hurtful nasty things, I think we go into fight or flight and then we become reactive and I think, you know, that of course, of course that happens.

[00:21:24] And so the only way to, change this pattern is like out of the moment, like, right. Like we said, like, don’t talk about it while it’s hot, talk about it once everyone’s cooled off later. And then we come back, we’ll, we’re going back in to this conversation because we’re preparing for the next time something like this might happen. 

[00:21:44] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right, right. 

[00:21:45] Randi Rubenstein: Right. To do it better.

[00:21:47] Michaeleen Doucleff: Another thing I, I, you know is the question of like, praise. I think that um, praise is a huge source of sibling rivalry and I, I think in our, in our society and I, and I, I don’t know about this situation, but I do want to bring it up before we finish. I, I think that there’s been good documentation that praise causes competition between siblings. I know that it causes competition between NPR reporters. I’ve seen it firsthand, you know, adults as well, you know. 

[00:22:19] And so I think it’s something that parents could think about and, and see, when you’re praising a child, how it affects the, the sibling and, um, around the world, praise is, is very rarely used. And I think that it, it helps the siblings see each other as teammates instead of competitors, um, because it’s really hard to give praise and, and not do it in a way that a child or an adult feels left out. 

[00:22:50] So that’s kind of the last thing I had on my list. I wanted to, I don’t know if that was involved in the book, the book issue, but I could see it. You know, we’re kind of taught in our society to praise children as this big motive way of motivating them and building their self esteem and, but praise does have some consequences that we don’t always talk about. And one of them is like competition between, between siblings. 

[00:23:11] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, it’s true because it’s like, quite often when you hear someone else being praised for something that… it might even be like something that you don’t feel like you’re very good at. Oh, it’s not motivating. It makes you feel worse about yourself because you’re like, you know, and so then when insecurity comes in, before you know it, it’s like, and, and parents, some parents take it up a notch, which not only are they praising one child, they actually are comparing the other child.

[00:23:46] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, sure. 

[00:23:47] Randi Rubenstein: To this child. 

[00:23:48] Michaeleen Doucleff: Explicitly. 

[00:23:49] Randi Rubenstein: I mean, even when I don’t feel like I’m comparing, um, like I’ll be talking to Corey about, I mean, I remember when he was starting like the, the college stuff and he had started like taking the test and I was actually trying to make him feel better because I was like, you know, Alec and Avery started, when they first took the ACT, they also had a similar score and then, you know, and then when they took it a final time, you know, just know that like that score can go up. That’s the thing about that test. Like you can study for the test. 

[00:24:24] Like, so, my anxiety was coming in where I was like, not wanting him to judge himself like he knows where his sister ended up with score. And so I was, my anxiety was trying to pre empt him from comparing himself to her. So I was like just know she also studied started here. And even even me doing any comparison there it annoyed the hell out of him.

[00:24:50] He was like do not compare, I don’t like, great whatever they got on their test. That’s their business. You know, he was like, I’m not comparing myself to her. I was like, no, no, no. What I just wanted you. He’s like, yeah, I’m good. I’m fine. Like,

[00:25:04] Michaeleen Doucleff: Good for him. 

[00:25:05] Randi Rubenstein: he caught me. 

[00:25:08] Michaeleen Doucleff: I mean, because if one thing of, you know, that’s clear that everybody agrees on is like, comparisons do not make us happy, you know, in life? And yet it is like a constant in our society. Right. And I’ve been, I’ve been working on it a lot with Rosie because I know it’s one of the things that girls. You know, tween, teen girls is like a huge issue with today is like comparing, right? I mean, it was, she, with my generation, but hers is like, it’s like on steroids, right? 

[00:25:34] And it’s like, I, I keep just saying to her, like comparing, I’m not going to compare. I just keep saying that because it’s like, it is so in our faces in this materialistic society that we live in, consumer society we live in, it is what drives us, right? You don’t have this. I have this. You don’t do this. I do this, right. And so good for him to push back on you.

[00:25:55] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. Right. And I, and I was convinced that I was trying to be supportive, like just, you know, trying to preempt the possibility of him being, you know, beating himself up that he didn’t score as high as he wanted to on the first time he took the test, whatever it was. My anxiety was having me like step in and he was kind of like, slow down sister. Like that feels like shit. That’s still comparison. 

[00:26:21] You know, and like, and 

[00:26:23] so when we think about praise, you know, even when you think you’re just focusing on one kid and you’re not talking about the other kid at all, kids connect the dots. And so they are going to compare themselves to the child that’s getting praise. Like it’s always going to be, I think that’s the problem is that comparison is the unspoken part of it.

[00:26:48] Michaeleen Doucleff: Absolutely. It’s implicit. Right. And so, we just have this thinking in our society that like the more praise the better and praise can do no harm. In fact, if you don’t do it, you’re doing harm, but it is. I mean, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Praise is not necessary. It’s something that we’ve only really done in the last 30, 40 years, 50 at the most. And it does have these repercussions, some pretty big repercussions that we don’t talk about,

[00:27:14] but I just try not to do any of it. I don’t think it’s necessary at all. I think there’s much better ways of motivating Rosie, of lifting her up in her self esteem and, um, they don’t come with, with a lot of these pitfalls that, that praise does. Um,

[00:27:33] Randi Rubenstein: Praise it’s, it’s, it’s contrived and looking for just, you know, I mean, even the script of like, good job. it’s like, why did you need to say that? 

[00:27:43] But praise and seeing someone else or pausing for, I call it pausing for applause, like celebrating someone else or noticing when someone else does something beautiful. You do that with me, like we’ll be talking, I mean, when I just read you before we started recording and I read you an email that I had sent about something that involved you, and then you took a moment and you’re like, that’s beautiful, Randi. 

[00:28:11] That wasn’t praise or I didn’t take it as praise. I took it as an honest response that was like, like honoring that moment and sort of, noticing and, and just sharing with me that you thought those words were beautiful or the way I put it and that did feel good for me, but it didn’t feel like contrived praise all It just felt like you being in the moment with me.

[00:28:37] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes, and it’s something that like, that made me feel good to say, too, right? It’s like in a lot of cultures, like, being proud and pray like what we’re talking about here is like an emotion that we’re sharing right that I’m, you’ve made me feel good and I’m making you feel good back and there’s, it’s between us this, this feel good right? 

[00:28:56] Whereas this praise of like, good job, is this kind of idea of like we were talking about before like kind of manipulating the other person’s emotions through this kind of contrived thing, right? It’s very different than, you know, a genuine, like, I’m proud of you type of feeling, right? That’s… that’s supposed to make me feel good and you feel good, right?

[00:29:19] It’s a, um, 

[00:29:20] we think emotions are just in our heads and in, in our children’s heads, but emotions are things that we share with something or with somebody. And, and that’s very different thing. Good job. Oh my gosh. Amazing. You know, that’s very, that’s me like trying to motivate you, trying to like, manipulate your emotions. I don’t, I’m not sure exactly. Lift your self esteem? I don’t know, but you’re exactly right. It’s a different than a genuine like, um, connection between two people. Right? Is what…

[00:29:50] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, like a shared experience, like a shared moment of, I see you and I’m feeling something based on something that you just did. And so now we’re going to have like a shared little moment and that does feel beautiful and it’s very different than praise.

[00:30:10] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes. Yes. And it’s interesting because sometimes people will say like, what about saying thank you? And I’m like, well, that’s gratitude, right? Like, you know, I mean, that’s just, thank you. You know, thank you for what you’ve done is, is again a shared experience, right? It’s saying that I see you and I appreciate what you’ve done. That’s, you know, very different than so… it’s nuanced, right? But it’s…

[00:30:35] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, it’s good stuff. Um, okay. I think this is gonna be a two parter I think this is gonna be a nice two part, but I’m glad you brought in the praise part because I think, um, I think this sibling rivalry, sibling fighting, um, topic I think it’s a big one. And I, and I think thinking about it in a little bit of a different way, which is we’ve got to create a foundation that involves a team mentality. And it’s not, it’s the opposite of competition. 

[00:31:10] And so fighting doesn’t need to be inherent as part of this relationship, because, like we’re on the same team. We’re not on opposing teams and that’s how we want it. I mean, I think every parent has a dream that your kids are going to grow up and they’re going to be best friends. Right? So like, this is what parents want. They want to have a team mentality. I think we’ve just been going about it the wrong way. And, you know, and probably in your, your family growing up, it sounds like, and, and I think lots of families grow, yeah, ,

[00:31:44] Michaeleen Doucleff: We can set our expectations differently. We can expect the siblings to help each other and work together, and you can tell them that. We help each other. We help your brother. We help your sister. Your sister helps you. You help your, you tell them that, you know, and, and, they will do it. I’m telling you, they will do it. We just have to shift what we think is possible. 

[00:32:05] Randi Rubenstein: We’re a helping family. We help each other, we love helping other. We work together, you know, look how well we together, right? That playroom just got cleaned up so fast because everyone was working together. So beautiful. Right? 

[00:32:21] Michaeleen Doucleff: Your brother needs you! 

[00:32:22] Randi Rubenstein: That. Yeah. Your brother. Your brother needs you. That’s exactly right. Right? Like, poor thing. Avery, poor thing. He’s a teenager. He needs you. That’s why I want to send him to come and visit you and sleep in the same bed. Um,

[00:32:37] Michaeleen Doucleff: Okay, Randi, thank you so much. 

[00:32:39] Randi Rubenstein: So fun. Thank you so much. All right, everyone. Have a great week.

[00:32:45] Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips, tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life. And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household, I want you to go to my website and check out We have three beginning programs, and if you need some accountability and more support then please look for the one that would be a good fit for you.

[00:33:19] And, as always, we’re on all the social channels under mastermind parenting, on Instagram it’s mastermind_parenting. And, you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives where I give you teaching and coaching and I love engaging with you live to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better, because when they feel better they do better, and I love, love, love getting to know you guys. 

[00:33:52] So thanks for listening. If you like this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review. Super super appreciative.

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Creating A Happier Household

by Randi Rubenstein