Potty-Train Twins: What Fun!

Don’t we wish potty training was as CUTE as it looks?

So, my 3-year-old sons are finally full fledged on board with the program, but only a few months ago, and I’ll be the first to admit that, being so busy and distracted with a slew of other pressing issues going on in our family, I’d probably not been as diligent, committed and focused on potty training as I should have been. So, when my four older kids went back in school, I made the commitment to concentrate and devote the next few days (and probably weeks, but hopefully not months) to getting the job done!

As the mom of three sets of multiples, I’m often approached with statements like, “You’ve already successfully potty trained two sets of twins, and are now on your third … you must be a PRO … so, what’s the trick to potty training multiples?”

My first response is to say that each of my sets of twins have consisted of children who are very different from each other. Referring to them and perceiving them always as a “set”, or a collective of two little people who should be expected to behave and fit into the same mold as the other, is an incorrect assumption. We as moms of twins know already, even identical twins are complete individuals. With that said, I recall my first set of twins (my girl/girl set) having one (Lauren) being completely ready and compliant by 22 months. She showed the readiness signs of expressing her dislike of wet/soiled diapers, demonstrating an understanding of using the potty, and having dry diapers for longer periods. She also was very verbal at that point and could express her desires and understand instructions quite well. Her twin Kathryn, however, was simply not into it at all, and regardless of her sister’s accomplishments, rewards, and “big girl pretty panties”, just wasn’t interested until she hit 2 and 1/2, at which point, she was ready and basically went from diapers to training pants to cotton panties in the course of a week! I believe that ultimately, Kathryn witnessing Lauren’s successes and rewards did play a part in her decision to “get with the program”, so I do believe that a level of peer pressure is a plus! The gap of time that existed between each child’s completion of the process allowed me to focus and concentrate on one child at a time, which was a plus for me. It also allowed for some one-on-one bonding between myself and each of my daughters, one at a time.

My second set of twins are a boy and a girl. Erin would often imitate her older sisters … a REAL PLUS there! By the time she was between 22 and 24 months, she was very into pretty big girl panties like her sisters wore. Encouraging her to sit on the training potty, understanding and enjoying Elmo’s “I Can Go Potty” book, and rewarding her after her successful visits was almost too easy. She, like her big sisters, showed the emotional and physical readiness signs of graduating from diapers to panties, and by the time she was 26-28 months, she was done. Training pants were used at night, but those didn’t last too long with her either, as she would wake up dry and ready to visit the potty upon getting up. Of course, there were often some middle-of-the-night visits, too. Now, Erin’s twin Brandon’s potty training process was a completely different story all together! Although we encouraged him to sit on his own potty, and rewarded him with his successes along the way, he simply decided that the thrill was gone after a few weeks, and decided to regress almost completely after he’d demonstrated his readiness and we’d thought he was just about trained. Ultimately, Brandon was 3 and 1/2 before we could consider him finally potty trained. He was NOT HAPPY as he watched his poo-poo flush away, so we told him that it was probably a fun thing, like going down a water slide! At that point, he decided to say with each flush: “Bye-bye poo-poo, have a good ride!”

Forcing, bribing, coercing, threatening, punishing … of course, were completely ineffective, so we learned and concluded that no matter how many children you have, and regardless of the fact that as a parent, you basically handle situations in the same manner each child, the INDIVIDUAL child is going to be ready, willing and able only WHEN he or she is ready, willing and able.

Benjamin and Sean had been demonstrating the readiness signs for quite some time, and although they were well-acquainted with their own Mr. Potty, seemed to understand and enjoy Elmo’s potty book, had actually both been successful at wee-wee-ing in their potties so far, were simply not consistent, probably because Mommy hadn’t been consistent enough. With a little more time, concentration and LOTS of POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT (we’ve gone through 2 giant bags of M&Ms), I can finally say that we’re finally about done!

Benjamin finally mastered both #1 and #2 finally just before his 4th birthday. As for Sean, however, he was 4 and 1/2 before he finally decided that pooping in his pants was only going to “earn him” toys being taken away and time-outs! For months, he simply REFUSED to use the potty for #2, while successfully going #1 consistently.

It’s just amazing how strong-willed and individually-motivated (or just plain stubborn) each child can be! If you’re presently experiencing stubborn children who refuse to comply with your potty training, you’re not alone. Just be patient, be consistent with your positive and your negative reinforcement, whatever tactics you use, and don’t give up! They WILL eventually get with the program … especially when peer pressure is applied, say for instance, when it’s time to visit friends with children who are the same age (and ARE potty-trained), and also when it’s time to start school, and no other classmates “poop in their pants”!

My friend, Pam Fierro writes for About.com, as an expert on twins. Here is her advice on potty training twins, which I intend to utilize! http://multiples.about.com/od/pottytraining/tp/pottytrainingtwins.htm

Two other great site for tips: http://www.pottytrainingconcepts.com/CTGY/A-Potty-Training-Multiple.html

and Mayo Clinic’s source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/potty-training/CC00060

The BEST reward of all!

I wish all of you the best of success you endeavor to potty train your multiples!

 

Moms of Twins: What Can You Do When Your Twins Become Aggressive?

One minute your precious twin toddlers are playing quietly …

… so you take the opportunity to go into the kitchen and prepare them lunch. Just after spreading peanut butter onto one slice of bread, you suddenly hear a scream, and then another! In no time, they’re both screaming, hitting, and punching each other … what happened?! You immediately notice that they are fighting over one particular toy truck. “Luckily,” you think to yourself, “we have TWO of the same toy truck!” After giving each child his own truck, and placing some distance between the two children temporarily, you proceed back to the kitchen, where you’ve left the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches half-made.

Suddenly, the ear-piercing screams erupt again! You toss your banana-slicing knife down on to the counter top and race back into the family room, only to discover that one of the boys prefers to have BOTH trucks to himself! The greedy culprit runs and taunts his brother while your empty-handed child screams and chases his toy-hoarding twin as if he’d stolen one of his limbs!

As you rush over to break them up and spare blood loss, you realize that one had actually broken the skin of the other while biting his arm … good grief! After verbally correcting both children, hoping that your stern voice and serious facial expression has made an impression, and after washing and bandaging the wounded child’s arm, you think to yourself, “What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to handle this? Are my children abnormally, overly aggressive? How do I put an END to this behavior?

Does this sound like you?

And as we all know, this scenario can involve boys, girls and both, so no mom is immune!

Toddler aggression is very common in singleton siblings as well as twins.

If you’re experiencing this type of behavior, you are NOT alone. So, first know that. Secondly, it’s only natural for any child (or person for that matter) to a react as a result of any type of provocation. Even newborns react by screaming and flailing their arms while experiencing unpleasant stimuli. As children age, however, they learn that hitting, punching, biting, scratching, for instance, are effective methods to defend or to assert their needs, wants or express an injustice of some sort, and are all quick releases of frustration that match their feelings. It’s instinctive, reactive behavior to want to fight back as a method for getting the point across!

Professor’s House, a home, family, and children information resources website posts an article on childhood aggression which states: In the early years, the hitting is pretty benign. They do it because they don’t know exactly how to handle a problem. They hit because they have been hit or scratched or pushed by other kids along the way. They hit because they are angry. They hit because they truly don’t realize that their actions can cause any sort of real pain or damage. In these years – the appropriate parental behavior is to try and teach kids how to take the high road. Children should learn to ask for mediation from adults rather than handle situations themselves.

The article goes on to say: (Another way) to keep siblings from hitting each other is to give them other options. Remember they are angry, mad, and frustrated. Help them find their words and help them find solutions to the problem that don’t involve the strike of a hand. What works for each of your children will be different. Part of the reason not to hit for a kid has to be what will happen to them should they decide to do it anyways. However, your goal is to help your child deal with what they feel in the moment and give them ways to control it. When you notice that they do, they should be rewarded. What the real issue is is self-control. When you teach your children how to control themselves, they will be far better in the long run. This self-control may entail listening to your child throw a fit or buying them a punching bag to release their anger. They should be told time and time again that hitting can hurt people physically and emotionally until they understand this fact. Chances are your child doesn’t want to inflict injury, but just wants to get their way.

When an argument arises between your children, please consider this …

Your children must learn to work out their own disagreements. Sometimes the argument has begun over something very insignificant, and if it has occurred in the privacy of your own home, perhaps allow the children to see what solutions they can come up with on their own. I am certainly not saying that you should let them tear each other to pieces, in fact, once the fists start flying, it’s time to intervene. But, if we as parents get involved in every single altercation that our kids get themselves into, we run the risk of making the situation a lot bigger than it actually is, and we don’t allow our children to find their own way of working it out. There’s nothing wrong with verbal expression … in fact, a good shouting match (without foul language and name-calling) can go a long way in your child’s ability to stand up for himself, to defend herself, to assert himself, and to debate in a healthy, creative way even at the young age of 2 or 3!

So, the key isn’t to stop the fighting, but rather to teach the correct and civil way to disagree.

When your children begin to argue, keep in mind these 3 tips:

1) Allow them to work out the problem themselves verbally. Shouting’s okay unless the volume could wake a sleeping baby or two! Intervene when you think it’s time to suggest a solution that the children could consider and debate.

2) Intervening and making too big of a deal out of a small issue (for instance, calling a family meeting together) could drag out an otherwise “no-big-deal” situation into a much bigger problem, and may only magnify the problem and cause more stress on everyone.

3) If or when physical aggression such as hitting, biting, scratching, etc., begins, immediately intervene and correct your children by taking the item being quarreled over away (“now no one gets it!”). Speak to each child impressing upon him or her that big kids don’t try to hurt each other, … that there are much better ways to argue or to express anger, …and sit them each in time-out for a cooling off period.

 

For the complete article from Professor’s House, go to: http://goo.gl/Hl5dn.

And for a lengthy, in depth mom-forum discussion about toddler twins and aggressive behavior, visit: http://goo.gl/A9ujn.

 

 

Yikes! Twins in Big-Kid Twin Beds!

 

 

It’s been just over a year since my little guys (my 3rd set) left their cribs and graduated to their big kid beds. Transitioning out of cribs has never been a favorite phase of mine, and the reasons are obvious: they are no longer in the safety, security and (I’ll be honest) the controlled-restriction of their cribs! They would now be entering the adventurous world of “being loose” in big kid beds.

At 13 months, I placed crib tents (the white, high-domed netted, zip-up tents) upon their cribs because they began to demonstrate their frightening abilities to lift one leg over the side not knowing what would result could be a terrible fall. At one point, Benjamin nearly fell directly on his head, and would have if not for the cat-like reflexes of his mom catching him. Of course, it took his mom several minutes to recover from the use of her cat-like reflexes and sudden rush of adrenalin.

I used those same crib tents on my previous twins’ cribs because at 11 months one climbed out, and the other while witnessing in amazement, followed right after! I recall sitting on the floor and sobbing. I had two five-year-old twins and two not-even-one-year old boy/girl twins, and I needed NAP time for the babies to be easy and reliable so I could continue to home school my then kindergarteners. My mom, who had seen the crib tents while watching a television documentary on a family with quadruplets, immediately ran out and bought them for me when I wept that “the babies can climb out of their beds” to her over the phone that very day. She called her purchase of them a $130 investment in my sanity! By the time my middle set reached 2 and 1/2, they transitioned into big-kid beds, and by then I was, well, a little more ready.

As for my 3rd set, I knew the time had arrived when I noticed evidence of the attempts of a prison break from their tented cribs. Ben’s tent began to show his efforts of his trying to escape, as if he’d stashed a spoon from the prison cafeteria up his sleeve … I detected little holes in the white netting here and there that became bigger and bigger. Sean decided to pull at a corner seam along the inside of his crib tent and was able to push those wet diapers out and onto the floor that he so often would shed, only to then wet his crib sheets!

So there we were. We’d taken down the twin cribs for the third and LAST time, and set up the twin bunk beds that double as individual single beds against two opposite walls, each having its own bed rail. We’d bought these beds when I was pregnant with my second set of twins so that my eldest twins (4-year-olds at the time) would no longer have to share a full size bed together (which they graduated to from their cribs), and would finally have their own big girl beds.

As most of us who’ve been through this transition have experienced, the BIGGEST CHALLENGE now lay with KEEPING THEM IN BED once nap or bed time arrived. It was so bad with our first set, that we, out of desperation, would take “bed-time drives” around our neighborhood. This drive would begin after jammies were on and teeth were brushed so that the girls would fall asleep in the car after about 10-15 minutes, after which we would lift them out of their car seats and lay them down in their shared bed. We gated their bedroom into the hall so that if they awoke and we didn’t hear them, they couldn’t leave their room and get into any trouble/danger in the rest of the house while we slept.

REFUSING to resorting to this method with my second set, I simply told them to stay in bed! When they got out to play some more, I’d go right in and threaten them with “toy taking”, “no playground the next day”, or something to that effect. The family room was just off the kids’ rooms hallway, so I could hear every sound and could quickly zoom in there. Eventually they would settle down. Sigh. Yes, their room was gated as well.

This time around, well, the kids rooms are upstairs. My biggest challenge is that when I believe they’re settled and quiet, I leave to return downstairs, only to hear the “pitter-patter” above me! This, of course, occurs after we’ve had their settle-down story, said our prayers, had a quiet night-night song, and each had a snuggle and back rub once they’re tucked in. Some nights they stay in bed and crash, while other nights I find myself making many runs up the stairs, finding that they’d heard me coming (no matter how quietly I believe I’m prancing) and quickly jump back into their beds, slyly now resembling the little angels I’d left only minutes before.

Some nights I recruit one of my older kids to be on Patrol. Usually Brandon, whose room is just across from Ben and Sean’s, will be report the status of the toddlers who should be in bed. Bruce and I can resume our evening duties of laundry folding, bill-paying or simply TV-watching while Brandon gives us a regular report from the top of the stairs every few minutes. If one or both toddlers are “being naughty”, he’ll startle them with a quick, “GET BACK IN BED!” order … following which they quickly scamper back into their beds!

Now at having just turned 4, we still have trouble keeping them in bed once they’re told to stay there, but it is definitely getting better! These milestones and transition phases will always teach us new ways of handling the situations, but, as it is with all children, they’re ALL DIFFERENT and need to be handled somewhat differently depending upon personalities, will-power, and their reactions to being disciplined.

 

But rest assured, you can always expect an adventure when it comes to parenting multiples!

Blessings ~