Archive for the ‘Behavior’ Category

Other-envy.  The bane of the toddler-mom’s existance.  Doesn’t matter what it is that child A has picked up; child B simply MUST have it. Right. NOW.  There’s no lead-time on child A playing with it and making it look fun to entice child B.  Literally, from the moment A picks up the cap from an empty water bottle, B desperately neeeeeeeeds to have it.

In my house, it’s Daniel who must have whatever Rebecca is holding.  She picks something up, and he scrunches up his face and whines “my turn, my turn!”, which, in toddler-ese means, “give it to me right this very second.”  I have tried to explain to him that, no, it’s Becca’s turn and he has to wait his turn.  He then shrieks “Becca turn! Becca turn! Wait-a turn! Wait-a turn!” and continues to snatch it from her.  Sigh.  Every now and then I think we’re starting to make progress on the concept of waiting and sharing, but it’s slow going.

The simultaneously heart-warming and concerning part of this story is that, more often than not, Rebecca will decide fairly quickly to give whatever she has to Daniel.  Not always, of course, but often.  Is she just being kind and empathetic?  It really is quite sweet to see.  On the other hand, is she just doing it to shut him up? Is she too much of a pushover when it comes to her brother?  Hard to say.

Sharing markers

And I can’t decide what my reaction to her generosity should be.  Obviously, I continue to try to get Daniel to wait his turn.  But when Rebecca decides to hand over whatever she has, do I praise her kindness?  Gently refuse her gesture and give the toy/book/bottlecap back to her and insist that she take her own turn (thereby inciting a spectacular meltdown from Daniel)?  Let them work it out on their own?

We certainly work on our “please” and “thank you” (Daniel’s “sank-u Becca!” is awfully cute) and other general manners. But I find myself again feeling a little sensitive to the gender thing. I don’t want to inadvertently encourage my (larger) son to be physically dominant and my (smaller) daughter to be the one who always has to make others happy.

Reading too much into this? Yeah, probably. Rebecca may be wee, but she’s feisty as hell and has no trouble getting her way when she sees fit.  And the more-verbal Daniel is getting better and better at spontaenous “please,” “thank you,” and “wait-a turn.”  This, as with all toddler-isms, shall pass.


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Disclaimer: I love my twins. They are fantastic and I have a great family. Most days, I love having twins. Yesterday was not one of them.

Dear moms of singletons (who tell me—incessantly—how great it is that I have twins because they play together),

My son, who is a quiet little guy, spoke his first sentence yesterday a week after his second birthday. In fact, he’d never even said a two word sentence, and we got three—subject, verb and object. Go Danny.  And what did he say?

“Bite! Abby bite. Abby bite. Abby bite Danny!”

Yep, it was a day of firsts in my house. Abigail bit for the first time at 4pm—and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th before bed at 7pm—and Danny spoke his first sentence. Somehow I should be happier about this developmental gain. Right? Right?

Yep, moms of one. Enjoy your lonely singleton. He may not have anyone to play with, but at least he is not covered in teeth marks.

Mom to Danny & Abigail, age 2

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When the boys were newborns, one of the things I hated to hear from twin moms with older twins was how much things get easier when they start playing together. I would ask when that was and they would say, “Oh, close to 3.” Peoples, if you come upon a mom of newborn twins, NEVER tell them things get so much easier THREE YEARS in the future.

But seriously, they were right. It’s as if some switch has been flipped in our house. Nate and Alex, who turn 3 next month, spend countless hours playing together with minimal interference. They talk and laugh and play. They also fight, but they’re getting better about working it out themselves. And they’re old enough now to know if they choose to solve their problems with physical violence, they go to timeout.

It really hit home this weekend when Nate helped Alex. My husband and I had gone out for a date, and the boys were completely fine with us leaving. When they went to bed, Alex started crying for us. The sitter said she walked upstairs to comfort Alex but by the time she got there, Nate had already comforted Alex and calmed him down just by talking to him.

Lightbulb moment: instead of two kids making each other crazy, I’m starting to see glimpses of two kids being brothers to each other. And they’re not even three.

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My twins are a week away from their second birthday, and the “terrible twos” have hit. Hard. My daughter has always been, how shall we say?…..opinionated. dsc_0233Strong-willed. Assertive. She’s a sweet, engaging little girl, but she’s intense. We’ve been seeing tantrums from her for months and months now. My little boy has been much more mellow and go with the flow. In the last month or so, that has changed. Now, I have two two year olds who tantrum. And have strong desires about what they want. And don’t want. And it changes by the minute. Danny’s new thing is to say no when offered a food—-then about 10 seconds later, change his response to, “Yeah, yeah, yeah”. It happens about 80% of the time. babies-23-months-097They’re fighting over Danny’s pink sippy cup (I know, not the most masculine color). They’re fighting over getting dressed in the morning…..and getting undressed at night.

We’re not quite sure how to handle this new phase. Here’s one thing we’ve done—-a sticker chart for getting dressed in the morning. If you get dressed without screaming or crying, you get to pick out a sticker for your chart. It’s been shockingly effective. The rest of you with one, two, three or more toddlers out there…..what do you do to get through the day? Besides my favorite, which is to throw them in bed at 7pm and pour a big glass of wine. Nice, but not really a great long-term coping strategy.

Sticker charts

Sticker charts

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This is cross-posted from my personal blog, Laura’s Mommy Journal.

When illnesses went around the boys’ infant day care room, they both seemed to get it at the same time. This is how I became a confirmed “rip the band-aid off” parent. Inevitably they were both going to get sick, so I may as well clean up puke/stay up all night with feverish babies/administer medicine all at once. It also meant the house could be de-germified faster and there was no waiting around for the other kid to get sick.

As they grew into toddlers, they actually… gasp… got immune systems (either that or they caught every possible bug EVER in the first two years of their lives). One kid may get something and the other kid never gets it. 99% of the time, Alex is the one who catches the bug and stays at home sick. This is not surprising to me as he is very tactile, touching everything and then putting it into his mouth.

Nate’s pink eye is the first illness in awhile where he has stayed home alone. While Jon and I make a concentrated effort to get alone time with each boy, it is rarely a full day. After yesterday, Jon and I have an all new appreciation for Alex. Poor Alex, getting bossed around by Nate ALL THE TIME. I love love love Nate but that kid CAN TALK and he will not stop talking until he gets what he wants.

After just one day alone with Nate, I completely understand why Alex has become such a fast runner – he needs to get away from Nate’s talking. I also understand why he’s developed the habit of giving in to Nate’s demands – it might be the only way to shut Nate up. And I also understand why Alex gets so cranky when we give him a lot of commands – yet two more people bossing him around?!

As the boys have gotten older, I’ve started to take for granted how much interaction occurs between the two of them that does not involve us. Having Alex out of the house amplified how much verbal interaction Nate needs and how much of that interaction Alex provides for Nate. It was a good reminder what a special relationship siblings have. And it was a good reminder how twins rule in every way.

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I am lucky enough to be going through the experience of a raising a singleton and the experience of raising multiples. (And the experience of raising another singleton…)

Although I know I shouldn’t, I often find myself making comparisons between the development of the older singleton and her younger multiple brothers. More often than not she comes out “ahead” in these comparisons – she walked first, she talked first, her gross and fine motor skills were slightly ahead. That could be because she was a first-born, a singleton, a girl. Who knows? It could just be her.

Regardless, the boys have come out light-years ahead in one area: playing nicely with others. Sure, they like to bicker amongst themselves. But when it comes to their siblings, their cousins, random strangers at Story Hour, these boys are outgoing and always willing to interact with other children.


If they are playing with a toy and another child takes it, as long as that other child isn’t their twin brother, they simply move on. If another child has a toy that they want, they will stand, smiling, and watch that kid play until it is their turn to have it. They experience true joy when they watch someone else having a good time. And if they see another child crying, they will pat that child’s back.

I’d like to think we taught them this, but, really, we didn’t. They are just comfortable being around other little people. More so than their big sister ever was. They have an innate sensitivity that I’d like to bottle and sell to the other parents at the local Children’s Museum…and a few relatives as well!

So if we didn’t “teach” them, how did they get that way? Is it a function of being a multiple? I don’t know. It could be. Whatever it is, it’s simply amazing. I hope it stays with them as they grow into teenagers and adulthood.

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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!

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