Ok, let’s state the obvious – life with one child vs. multiples is, well – completely different. I have to say though that as a parent, I’d always felt pretty confident in the area of discipline. I have a general approach or style of parenting about which I have great conviction – a happy medium that falls somewhere between ‘because I said so’ & merely treating my kids as peers & allowing them to run the show. It’s a delicate balance and takes work & commitment, but ultimately, we’re quite pleased with how our eldest is turning out! And then, there are the triplets…
Part of me feels silly for using the word ‘discipline’ when referring to 14 month olds, but I must confess that I’ve been feeling a little anxiety about the whole thing. It’s not to say that my first didn’t give me any trouble at all but man, I really don’t remember it all being so draining! Again, keeping in mind that we are just entering the toddler stage here, I completely accept that most of what we’re dealing with here is ‘typical’ for their age. It’s just that with our eldest, I never felt that I was dealing with so much redirection & repetition so soon.
‘No, don’t touch that!’ ‘No! No pulling hair.’ ‘No – no throwing.’ ‘Do nice.’ Are the triplets just simply not as well behaved as their big brother? No, I know that’s probably not true. So (for my sake) let’s put it in perspective…
The fact is, I AM repeating & redirecting a lot more – after all, three is more than one! For that matter, there wasn’t a pint sized playmate for our eldest – someone whose hair was begging to be pulled, someone who would fight you for a toy, someone with whom you had to share mommy & daddy’s attention. And so with multiples, there is more, shall we say, antagonism for them to deal with. Ok, got it.
It was very validating to discover that there’s even a name, a very formal name for one aspect of this – it’s called TES or Twin Escalation Syndrome. Can you guess what it is?? That’s right – it’s “the tendency of multiples to intensify & expand their behaviors in reaction to each other”. We’ve all been there. Little Susie starts banging her cup on the highchair & so Little Bobby bangs his…only louder! Little Joey throws a toy into the coffee table & Little Annie throws hers too – until all of the toys have been emptied out of the play area. The list goes on & on…
Then there’s the whole concept of having a captive audience. Why pay attention to mommy’s reprimands through gritted teeth when my little buddies over here are laughing at me??? I’m funny! And hey, mommy’s giving me her undivided attention!
So it really is a unique dynamic…one that is challenging & potentially quite stressful. I’ve been disappointed so far at the lack of information available ‘out there’ that addresses this issue for parents of multiples. Although these articles were somewhat helpful:
In the meantime, simply reminding ourselves that it is a challenge & that it will get easier can begin to take the edge off. (It has already for me!) Perhaps this falls into the category of so many other things related to life with multiples – things that we have to keep in perspective & take in stride. They are learning & so are we.
I’ll be attending my first twins/triplets club toddler meeting later next month, where the topic will be discipline. I’d be happy to share any other pearls of wisdom we discover there.
So what works for you? Are there any resources specific to multiples that you’d recommend?