Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Toddler Tips… Wisdom from other toddler mamas

D: Since the idea of parenting is not something I’ve ever thought to myself, “I’ve got this all under control and I know exactly what I’m doing,” I’ve sought the wisdom of other parents to gain new perspective since before the kids were born.

Recently, I posted a question on a few parenting forums about trying to make sense of my toddler’s behavior. Specifically, the throwing, the screaming, and the self-destructive tantrums. I received some excellent advice and thought I’d post some of it here, for other parents to glean from.

These tips were derived from a list serve of women who all are moms to toddlers around the same age as the Deuce. Have any tips of your own that you'd like to share?

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~ I have told tons of friends that having 2 yr. old twins is *almost* as hard as having newborns...it's crazy. I also believe that it's a phase...their brains are coming online still...they need to be challenge to find out if we will give them boundaries.

~ I reserve the time-out for major bad stuff right now...hitting our sister with the toy broom....whacking me, throwing stuff so it's not safe, etc. Basically when safety is involved.

~ I try to be consistent with my language...playdough stays on the table. If I see it on the floor, it's mine. Food is for eating. If I see it being thrown we are all done. The key with this is to then take away the toy, food, whatever as soon as they throw it, etc. This is the hardest part for me because it is exhausting and mentally numbing to do this 6 million times a day… but it's working.

~ The testing is normal...they are looking for boundaries and it's interesting b/c they truly WANT them...they are seeing if we mean business. I also stay totally neutral...calm body, calm voice, etc. so they know they aren't pushing my buttons.

~ Kids prefer consistency because they know what to expect. It builds trust in your word. My opinion is this isn't one of those things that magically corrects itself and suddenly you have 5 year olds who don't throw tantrums. You gotta do the work up front.

~ I usually ignore tantrums, as in I walk away. It’s hard to keep it up if your intended audience is not there. I don't tell my kids to "not cry", I just let it be known I'm not a participant for tantrums.

~ I have found that when kids are in the middle of all out tantrum mode then it's impossible to talk/reason with them until they are through the worst of it.

~ One of our guiding principles is to draw a firm line between his feelings and his behavior. It's fine for him to feel frustrated, but it's not fine for him to express that frustration in certain ways. Hitting or any kind of physical violence is an immediate time out.

~ One thing I'll add, which helped my daughter--giving her reasonable choices throughout the day. I found she was looking for boundaries at that age, but also some measure of control. So I could ask, if she wanted crackers, "do you want some in the blue bowl or the red bowl?"

~ Also love the choices ... and give 2 choices that you can live with. So instead of, “what would you like to drink,” ask “would you like milk or water?” Instead of “Lets leave the park in 5 minutes,” it’s “would you like to leave the park now or in 5 minutes?”

~A popular one right now is "We need to do ___ right now. Do you want to do it or do you want mommy/daddy to do it?" He generally jumps at the chance to do something himself.

~ From what I've gathered, toddlers emotions can be incredibly unstable – one minute they're happy as clams and the next the world is crashing down around them. This is just a fact of life in the way toddler brains, and emotions, work. To some degree, we can try as parents to mitigate the ups and downs especially if we know what might trigger them and try to avoid that situation, but it's not always practical (or possible) to stave off every emotional switch.

~ The other thing that's going on with toddler brains is the need for some control in their lives. They are told at nearly every turn what to do, not to do, and how to do it. Can you imagine how incredibly frustrating that must be to a little person?? Obviously, when it comes to safety, or violence, we need to protect them and ourselves. But I think it's important to realize that in other situations it might be ok to give them a little bit of control over their lives in order to mitigate the frustration they feel about, literally, being ordered around all the time.

~ I think it's really easy to overestimate what our toddlers are capable of, just as it's easy at times to underestimate their capabilities. Finding a balance that works for everyone is really hard, but constantly expecting them to act like 3 ft tall adults just makes everyone involved want to pull their hair out and scream.

Posted by Blogtime In Twin Town @ 9:40 PM :: (4) comments

Friday, March 20, 2009

Baker Trip

The boys LOVE to play in the snow, and talk constantly about skiing. Not sure if it's the fact that we are always talking about skiing, that they can see Mt Rainier (or as Ollie calls it, "munten") from our front window, or that we are always playing Warren Miller videos for the boys... but we are pretty sure they are going to love the sport!

About a month ago we stayed in a cabin in a small mountain town called Glacier with several of our friends and their children. It was the first time we had really taken a multi-family trip, and it was a huge success! Our Au Pair, Anna, came with as well so we were all able to trade off time with the boys and time for some turns on the mountain. I even taught Anna (from Brazil) how to ski. She did great. The following day Anna and I took the boys sledding with a few other friends. Here are some pictures...


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Posted by Blogtime In Twin Town @ 2:24 PM :: (1) comments

These aren't the greatest shots, but I always think it's funny to see my little boys next to their big friend Luther.
They love Luther!


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Posted by Blogtime In Twin Town @ 2:17 PM :: (0) comments

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rough day

D: We've told people we practice 'Positive Discipline' to explain why we haven't used (over-used) the word "no" very often with the kids up to this point. When people hear this, I'm assuming they either think we then a) just give in and let the kids do what they want, b) never really set firm boundaries for the kids, or c) raise them in a bubble, with little opportunities to learn life's lessons.

On the contrary, Positive Discipline (or our version of it) is really quite difficult. It takes much more work to make sure that we are explaining the consequences of their actions, following through with those consequences, allowing them to have alternative options, and redirecting them with positive distractions. It's really much more work then just saying "no". And we do say "no" when they are in danger (going towards a dog, the street, or grabbing a knife, etc.).

And while this has been difficult for sure, it seems to be a good fit for our family, and we have really minimized the power struggles.

Up to this point.

In the last few days, something has changed. Maybe because W is out of town for a few days, and I'm feeling like I'm at my wits end, or maybe it's because it was Friday the 13th yesterday. But all of a sudden, our plan is NOT WORKING and I'm back to the drawing board.

My little strong willed boys are testing their mama's patience over and over and over again. Take yesterday for example:
For the first time in their lives, neither one of them had a nap. Instead, they were both in and out of their cribs (that's right... they've officially escaped) biting and fighting each other, tearing the entire room apart, and literally climbing the walls (the built-in book shelf). I tried to sit with them, singing softly in the darkness, but they weren't having it. I was in and out of their room probably 15 times until I finally gave up 3 hours into it.

The rest of the afternoon I was left with over-tired, wound-up toddlers that were doing and re-doing everything they KNEW not to do: dumping potted plants over in the living room, throwing my lap top off the table, banging on the flat screen TV, poking sticks at the cat in the yard, and finally, running (sprinting) in two different directions on the sidewalk in front of our house towards the street.

All in less than three hours. I'm not kidding.
Did I yell "NO"? Hell yes. Several times. And then we all cried.

I'm sure this will pass and it's probably good to stay the course and have confidence and consistency in what we are doing. And I guess I just needed to vent. There are huge changes happening with the boys right now (talking SO much more, learning new things every day)and I'm sure their little circuits in their brains just need to cool off a bit. And so do I.

Posted by Blogtime In Twin Town @ 1:03 PM :: (6) comments

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Running Around

W. I've been snapping some fun pictures of the boys lately. Here are some of my latest favorites.


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Posted by Blogtime In Twin Town @ 10:35 PM :: (2) comments

Saturday, March 07, 2009

O-Bear's First Tree Climb

Yesterday, at our favorite neighborhood park, I was doing the usual twin-toddler-wrangler rodeo (one goes one direction, one goes the other... which is going to be the most dangerous situation and needs my attention first?) when I turned around to see Ollie climbing a small tree just outside the playground area. It was a very small tree, with the first branch just low enough that he could get a good enough grip on it. I surveyed his landing... soft grass... and decided to let him keep climbing with minimal intervention. I don't even think he noticed I was watching. When he perched himself up into the first 'sitting' area in the tree he looked around to find me, and starting beaming ear to ear with pride in his achievement.

I caught his proud moment with my camera phone:


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Posted by Blogtime In Twin Town @ 4:08 PM :: (1) comments

Friday, March 06, 2009

Family Fun Weekend

This past weekend my dad and stepmother came out from Minnesota to visit the Deuce (and their parents, I suppose!) in the great North West. We had a great time showing them all the fun activities that we love to do with the boys on a regular basis. The boys showed their grandpa their favorite animals at the Woodland Park zoo, and their love of farm tractors. They showed him how they throw rocks into the Puget Sound and showed off their favorite fishing boats down at the Fisherman's Terminal. They played with them in two of their favorite neighborhood parks and flaunted their impressive jungle gym climbing skills. On Sunday, my mom watched the boys while Walker and I took our visitors up to Crystal Mountain for a day of skiing. I couldn't believe that my old man can still beat me down the mountain in a race!

We had an awesome time having them in town and can't wait until our next family adventure weekend! Dad and Sue, we love you guys!


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Dad with boys at Zoo

Dad on beach with boys

Dad, Sue and Walker

Posted by Blogtime In Twin Town @ 1:48 PM :: (1) comments