Growing Pains

Posted on
Categories Behavior, School-AgeTags , , , Leave a comment

We were excited when the new size 6 pants I’d ordered for J arrived. She’s been growing like a weed and had grown out of her clothes. I asked her to try on the new pants, but sadly, she reported that they were far too loose in the waist. I washed them all and put them aside.

After several days with temperatures in the 70s, today was a relatively chilly Texas day. J came out of her room dressed in 5T sweatpants. They left a good portion of her shins bare. My foot came down.

“No ma’am,” I told her. “Those pants are too small for you. Please put on your new purple ones.”

She came out of her room again with an important update. “These are too big.”

I took a look, and they seemed to fit just fine. I noticed her pulling them up at the hips, bunching the fabric on both sides below the waistband.

“I think,” I informed her, “that you have become accustomed to your pants being too tight. It’s just like how you resist switching to new shoes when your feet grow. You’ll feel comfortable in a while.”

That did it. To cut a very long, very loud story short, she lost it. There was screaming and stomping, tears and threats, and a general insistence that her panties were going to fall off without super-tight pants holding them up. I don’t try to reason with the unreasonable, so I didn’t point out all the things wrong with her argument until M wanted to discuss them with me over sister’s screams. Yes, I agreed, her panties did stay on when she jumped on the trampoline in a dress. J even tried M’s panties on, only to break down into a fresh slurry of tears because they were too tight.

Proving myself to be the meanest mommy in history, I insisted that J go to school in her own panties and pants. Once she’d settled into the car and quieted a bit, I told her that I was 95% certain that she would get used to her new clothes by the time school was done. I also suggested that perhaps part of her resistance was that I wasn’t making her sister go up a size. She agreed that that was a big part of it. It wasn’t fair that M got to wear the old pants.

“The fact is,” I told her, “that your sister is just smaller than you right now. You’ve always been used to sharing clothes so it feels strange not to, but it’s no different than you having different shoes because of your different sized feet.”

J struggled with this idea, but had accepted it by the time we got to school.

When I picked her up after daycare, she said those sweetest words: “Mom, you were right.” She loved her new pants and had received 2 compliments on them. They were softer than the old ones, which she admitted had been too tight. She even agreed to model her too-small and just-right clothes for a before-and-after photo set.

A 7-year-old with a tendency to resist change isn't a fan of switching to a larger size of clothing

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Toddler Thursday: A Snapshot of Life with Twin Toddlers

Posted on
Categories Toddler Thursday, ToddlersTags , , , , , , 2 Comments

I love this video. Poor though may be the quality, embarrassing though may be the condition of my house, cringe-inducing though may be my sarcasm directed over the heads of my girls, this is what life with twin toddlers (in this case 18 months) looks like.

Grownup Things

Why play with toys or your own shoes when Mommy’s are there? Toddlers are fascinated by everything their parents do. Sure, you can spend a bundle on the latest techy toys, but chances are that your kids will be happy for longer with some empty food containers or a little purse. They’re learning to be human by imitation, so it’s no surprise that they want to do exactly what they see from their parents, preferably with their parents’ things.

Opinions

Toddlers have strong opinions, about shoes and everything else too. They know where they want to be, what they want to be doing and what they want everyone else to be doing. When you have multiple toddlers with varying opinions, there is bound to be conflict. You can try to help them work it, but sometimes you just need to let the fussing be.

Communication

Kids this age often, but not always, are doing their darnedest to communicate with whatever limited tools they have at their disposal. What words they have, they will overgeneralize, like “shoe” to mean anything that is worn on the foot, including socks. They can use physical communication, like M lifting her leg and pointing to help me understand her words.

Toddlers can understand pretty much everything you say to them. They’re so used to being misunderstood, however, that they jump to the conclusion that you don’t understand them. M clearly understands it when I say, “Let’s go in the nursery.” She doesn’t understand that “Okay” implies that I’m willing to take her socks off. Just assume your kids don’t understand your assumptions, and communication will go much more smoothly. “Sit down so you can get your socks off” was clear enough. No implication-reading was needed, so the crying could come to an end.

Teaching Manners

As I said earlier, your kids want to copy everything you do. If you want them to use good manners, then use good manners with them. Say (and sign) “Please” and “Thank you” to your babies at appropriate times starting at birth, and they’ll pick it up. Reminders are helpful, of course, but they’ll never really learn how to good manners unless they see them.

Baby Sign

I know, I’ve said it before, but Baby Sign helped us so much with overcoming communication barriers! Obviously, my girlies still used it and I relied on it, well after they were capable of speech.

Crying and Tantrums

Infant tears don’t faze me. I have no trouble seeing babies’ cries as their language. Toddlers crying, however, gets under my skin. Despite their ability to understand language and their limited ability to use it, toddlers resort immediately to tears on any feeling of frustration. Worse, they quit listening once their tears have started to flow.

Then there’s the foot stomping. To me, full body involvement is where a mere crying spell moves over to the realm of a tantrum. I confess that toddler tantrums are probably the most difficult child behaviour for me to cope with. I can completely see the temptation to just give in to the child instead of fighting the battle to maintain discipline. However, I truly believe that my and the girls’ pre-school teachers’ willingness to hold our ground against tantrums contributed towards my 7-year-old’s current academic, social and psychological success.

Sharing

Toddlers are at the very beginning of understanding that they are individuals. With this sense of self comes a sense of possession. Those of us with multiples have both the challenge and opportunity to start teaching about sharing, day in and day out. Unlike singleton parents, we don’t have to wait until our child is in a social situation to teach how to share. Out toddlers’ entire lives are one big social situation!

In the video, you can see M take ownership, saying, “Mine shoe.” She’s already learned the power of redirection, trying to keep the shoe she wants by offering up an alternative to her sister.

The kids also have to share their parents’ attention. You can see me splitting my attention between my two daughters and Daddy throughout the video. This is just the reality of raising multiples.

Co-Parenting

You can see a few moments of co-parenting in the video. It’s so important to function as a team. We divide and conquer, me taking point on communication and entertainment, my now-ex being response for a dose of Tylenol for teething pain.

We talk to each other throughout. This accomplishes two things: making sure that we agree on the right approach to our kids and ensuring that we’re both informed of what’s going on. I certainly wouldn’t want one of our kids to get a dose of Tylenol without both parents being aware, because we’d run the risk of overdose.

A big challenge for me, was not immediately correcting Daddy. He asked M whether she was in pain. I know that an 18-month-old will answer in the affirmative, just for the attention it gets her. However, I didn’t question his approach in front of the kids. I went with it at the time. Once the kids were in bed, I gently suggested an alternative way to phrase the question to get a more accurate answer: “What’s making you sad?” or just handing our toddler a chew toy to see if she made a move to soothe her gums.

Choosing Battles

Toddlerhood is a little more about exploring the world and less about survival than infancy. Still, it’s still wise to choose your battles. You already know I’m a huge fan of consistency. The only way I know to be both consistent and sane is to choose where to hold your ground and where to let go.

In the video, I decide that J can have the heels. She either didn’t understand or chose to ignore my objection. M’s licking her tissue will gross me out but not kill her. No pants? Whatever. There are bigger battles to be fought.

Basic Care

Toddlers still require a great deal of basic care. Diapers are still part of the picture. I found diaper duty to be 100 times easier than potty training.

In the video, M is dealing with a (probably allergy-related) runny nose. You can see a humidifier running on the floor to help give her some relief. We used saline drops to help her blow her nose and gave her a choice between blowing her nose herself or my using a bulb syringe to suction her clear.

Teething pain can be dealt with with Tylenol, although my preference was the clean wet washcloths I stored in the fridge for chewing.

Sarcasm

Sarcasm was my own survival strategy. To each their own, right? Of all the ways I could express my frustrations with these small people, I figured sarcasm was the least damaging.

Need another twin toddler video fix? You’re welcome.

Any of this look familiar? Do you use sarcasm to survive life with twin (or more) toddlers?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Yours, Mine, and Ours

Posted on
Categories ToddlersTags 12 Comments

Every kid has to learn to share, but when you’re a multiple, the sharing begins long before you’re even born. My own experience was quite different. I grew up an only child, and while I was required to share toys and materials at daycare and school, when I went home and walked into my room, everything was mine. But that isn’t the case for my kids. At 20 months old, my kids have very few things that are their own personal belongings. We have tons of books and more than enough toys, and the expectation is that they will share them.

However, in the last month or so, both my son (Buba) and my daughter (Tiny) have started to develop preferences for certain items. They have favorite books, favorite toys, and favorite stuffed animals. And each child considers these favorites as belonging to him or her. Heaven help us if Buba wants to play with the stuffed monkey that Tiny thinks belongs to her. And we’re sure to hear about it if Tiny dares to push around the choo-choo that Buba likes best.

I try explaining in the simplest ways that we share toys and take turns, and sometimes that’s enough to hold one of them off for a few minutes. But more often then not, the word share precedes a lot of screaming and crying. And what blows me away is the way it all goes down. For example, Tiny is in the kitchen quietly reading books to the stuffed monkey while Bubba is in the living room playing with the wire and bead toy. Then Buba decides to grab the teapot and come to the kitchen to play. Tiny will shriek and shout, “share! share!” (Translation= That’s mine give it to me!) When I tell tiny that it’s Buba’s turn, she goes into a major meltdown as though I’ve just given away the thing that matters most to her. And we go through situations like these several times a day.

So what I’m wondering is this: Given that they have to share so much and will have to share so much for at least the next 17 years would it help matters if they each had a few items that we enforced as being their own personal belongings? Or at this young age, would that only make things worse?

How does it work at your house? Do your kids possess specific toys of their own? And how do you help your kids learn what sharing and turn taking are all about?

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Share and (not) Share Alike

Posted on
Categories Behavior, Development, Mommy Issues, Relationships, Singletons, ToddlersTags , , , , 4 Comments

Our house is turning into a “sharing-free” zone. It has been to a certain extent for a while, but it’s now almost complete. So if you are sick of saying, “honey, you have to share your puzzle with your brother,” only to have both kiddos freak out, take refuge with us for a while!

It wasn’t always this way. For the first six months, EVERYTHING was shared. It just didn’t matter, to them or to us. Ahhhh…the simplicity of it all! Then “I want that!” entered their developing psychologies, and while it wasn’t a substantial strain, it ushered in the era of disgruntled babies who had their siblings rip toys out of their hands. One of mine handled it far better than the other, but it made me realize I needed a consistent strategy for mediating the situation. So I decided, at this very early stage, that if someone was playing with a particular object, it was theirs for the time being. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Only when they were finished could the other one have it. And if it were taken prematurely, I stepped in and returned it to its temporary owner. Of course I did this as gently and comforting as possible. As far as non-toy items (clothes, etc.) the boys still shared everything.

This was all fine and dandy until the boys hit one, and the concept of territory became acute. The battles over toys, food, clothes and attention escalated at a rapid clip. Reffing became a full-time occupation. The rules of the game: no hiting, biting, hair pulling or pushing. Yah right. It was truly trying to ref and call no-holds barred fights. No matter what, though, if you took something, you had to return it. I was generous in giving them plenty of time to process the concept of returning. And it took time. And many times of me returning the object for them. But they started to catch on and I saw real progress. Stealing became less and less. And if they did steal, they even started to catch themselves and give it back without prompting. The praise flowed like the Nile on these occasions.

We would go to the playground and I’d watch (and still watch) other kids bulldoze themselves into toys – grabbing, throwing, taking. The parents of the accosted would say to their dumbstruck child, “you have to share! Johnny can play with that for a while.” I say, screw that philosophy. How would you feel if you were sitting on a park bench, totally content surfing the web or texting on your iPhone, and some random stranger ripped it out of your hands and started emailing their friend? And then pitched a fit at you when you were forced to nicely ask for it back! Oh, the injustice of being a child sometimes.

We’ve maintained this no sharing philosophy pretty well. Of course, they need to play with a few things together, namely the train set. And this becomes a challenge. But we even set up the tracks to have many options so they are not constantly bumping into each other. However, I’ve just begun to realize that the boys still technically “share” everything. They have no toys, no books, no clothes, not even their comfort blankets, that are expressly theirs. The only thing they don’t share is their shoes – and this is by necessity because Oskar has mallets for feet and wears a Stride Rite XW. But I’ve noticed the boys becoming acutely aware of whose is whose and starting to naturally assign ownership. It started a few months ago. Oskar pointing and saying, “Abie’s milk.” Abel doing a roundhouse ID of where everyone sits at the table, “Mommy’s chair, Ozzy’s chair, Daddy’s chair!” And their overall general interest in identifying themselves as individuals. Abel points proudly to himself and say’s with a big smile “ABIE!” This is a big deal, because three months ago, if I showed them a picture of Oskar and asked them who it was, they’d both exclaim, “ABIE!”

So things are changing even more in the direction of no sharing in our house. Shirts are being identified as expressly Oskar’s or Abel’s (and it’s their doing – Abel got the monkey shirt from Lee-Lee for Christmas and he as required it to remained so. And vice-versa). Salty is Ozzy’s train. Thomas is Abel’s. And they have developed an awesome system for “sharing” their belongings all on their own. It’s called the trade. They actually ask each other if they want to trade, and if they are both in agreement, whaalaa! If they are not both in agreement, no go. Pretty cool! Of course, now I find myself reffing “trading” matches when they’re not on the same page, but I’ll take it.

I think given their strong self-awareness and human nature, the tide will continue to turn in this direction. Which makes things more complicated to manage. However, I can’t help but believe this no-sharing philosophy has some merit. Multiples are confronted with identity challenges that don’t enter the world of singletons. They are also forced to, on many levels, share so many things from conception on. This is a remarkable blessing and a curse. The more I can foster their own sense of individuality and ownership in things, the better off they will be. Because even though I maintain this “no sharing” mantra, the reality is they have to develop a sense of sharing and one another way earlier than a singleton child. They are birthed in a world that doesn’t solely revolve around just them.

I’ve often wondered if multiples behave differently than singletons in larger play situations? If they steal less, respect personal space more? Or if kids will be kids, regardless. Sounds like a cool HDYDI study. Leave your experiences with how you handle your kids sharing (or not sharing!) in the comments and let’s see!

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

To Answer My Husband

Posted on
Categories ToddlersTags , 8 Comments

Recently, my husband earnestly asked me, “Are you sure that our kids are normal? Are they really supposed to act like little juvenile delinquents? Are we doing something wrong?!”

After a bit of thought, and a quick trip to my trusty child development book, I have come to the conclusion that our children are indeed normal. Jay, this one is for you!

Taken from the Complete Book of Baby and Child Care:

“Would you like some water?” you ask innocently, holding his cup.

“No!”

You put the cup on the counter.

“Waaber!” he cries, reaching for it.

You fill it and give it to him.

“No!” he pushes it away.

You put the cup on the counter.

“WAABER!!” he howls.

“You offer him the cup.

“NO!!” He swipes at the cup, nearly knocking it out of your hand.

What fuels this temporary insanity is, in fact, a very simple premise: If it wasn’t his idea, he won’t have anything to do with it.

 
So, sweetheart, does that answer your question?

Jay and I both have pretty high standards for our kids behavior, and low tolerance for whining, fighting, and disobedience. So toddlerhood has proven to be quite challenging to us! I don’t feel badly being a “stricter” mom. I feel it is imperitive to my childrens’ safety, and my sanity. But boy has it been challenging to find ways to correct, re-direct and discipline in an age appropriate manner!

One of the issues we have been experiencing in our home is the lack of sharing. I came across this poem in my childcare book, and laughed in relief:

THE TODDLER’S CREED

If I want it, it’s mine.

If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine.

If I can take it away from you, it’s mine.

If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.

If it’s mine, it will never belong to anyone else, no matter what.

If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.

If it looks like mine, it’s mine.

(Dr. Burton L. White)

Phew! Another issue explained! Apparently this is a stage, an aspect of normal childhood development. As is the fighting, biting, tackling, hitting, hair pulling and general household destruction. That said, I am not going to stop breaking up the fights, or signing “share,” and “gentle!” I am not going to stop saying “No!” when it needs to be said. I am not afraid to discipline in public. But I am relieved to know that we aren’t raising criminally minded toddlers just because they refuse to share. I am thankful for this normal developmental stage. And I am confident, that I can now add “Professional Referee” to my resume.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone