…..and more so, when the FUCK am I supposed to stop cursing???
Don’t be swayed by the photo, in no way am I advocating hitting your child with a spoon! The spoon comes from my son. From the ages of 4-6 he used to grab spoons at stores and ask me to try it out on him, and bend over. It was mortifying until I learned to loosen up. Thanks to a few open mama’s who told me equally if not worse stories about their kids doing similar things! (Never be afraid to jump in and talk to a mommy going through something! You don’t know how much that might help them in that moment or the years to come!)
As my twins got older, (now two days away from 19 months ahh!!) I found the struggle of hitting, biting, taking, and just being general little toddler assholes over whelming. As it started to bud I found myself blind sighted by how early it seemed to spark. So I was googling, redditing, facebooking, searching for the answer. How do I deal with two tiny people trying to beat each other??? And do you know what I found? NO. GOOD. ANSWERS. Every thing I found was essentially, “well, you can’t really tell them no until they are two. They just don’t understand. But OMG they are out of control before then!!”
So these answers, of waiting, of them being “horrible”, didn’t sit well with me. Especially not after the hell I went through with my first. Now, what I went through with my first isn’t normal. By any means. He is older now, and one of the nicest kids you will ever meet. People often tell me how amazing he is, polite, smart, well behaved. Well.. I assure you, its just to strangers. He is still a normal little boy, and that means trying to get away with ANYTHING he possibly can. And boy oh boy did that start early. But he was a baby, he was little, the internet and parenting books kept telling me every thing was normal. Kept telling me to let things go. Pick my battles. Let him work through his emotions. Well… it didn’t work out well. He became out of control. If I put him in his room to “work through his emotions” he would destroy his whole room. He would melt down for hours. This was not normal. And more so, the point that it got to, meant I was going to have to do a lot of extra work to fix it. A lot of work I didn’t want to do. And I sure as shit don’t want to have to do with two babies at the same time. While dealing with my oldest, I vowed, I would start earlier so it would never be this bad.
So when the girls were about 13 months old all the normal toddler behaviors started. Baby hitting mommy and laughing isn’t a big deal. But it suddenly becomes a much larger deal when you have 1)two babies hitting mommy, or 2) two babies hitting each other, or 3) one baby getting upset she got hit and screaming and then hitting you and then the other baby hitting you just because. All. Day. Every. Day.
Now let me take the time to say. I don’t have all the answers. I’m just a twin mom who is jotting down things I found successful along the way. If any one could tell me how to get my almost 19 month old twins to sleep through the night. Or eat all of their meals, please let me know. I’m all ears.
There’s a lot of things out there that say you can’t tell your kids no. You can’t make them feel bad. And frankly, they won’t learn with out boundaries, or emotions. I remember the first time one of the twins hit me intentionally. I told her to stop, and she did it again. I told her to stop and she did it again. And again. And again. I took her hand and told her no and set her down. I remember being dazed almost after it happened, she was so young, did that really just happen? Mean while grandma was standing across the room giggling and giggling at the whole event. She assured me that yes, the baby was hitting me on purpose. Let me tell you. The baby did not appreciate being put down.
So that kind of set the mold. When they throw some thing at me. I tell them, “no, we don’t throw toys/books, we throw balls.” I hand the item back to them and tell them to hand it to me nicely. And they do. It took a few times before this worked. But it works. When my son was older and started slamming doors I did the same thing to him. “we don’t slam doors. Open and close it the right way x amount of times.” Which usually created a nice fan in the room on a hot day!
When they hit I take their hand and tell them no. We don’t hit, it isn’t nice. Which, a while ago, would prompt her to hit me again, or hit sister just to test boundaries. So at that point I pick the baby up and set her behind me. Her back to me. And it worked. They hated it. They knew it was a punishment. But it wasn’t some thing so definite as a time out, which they wouldn’t understand.
I spend most of my time playing with the girls. It seems that no baby has constantly been the dominant one. It seems to go in phases. I don’t know if the “dominant baby” is some thing non-twin moms made up, Or if it’s just that which ever baby is being “dominant” gets sick of me being on her case all the time. Has any one figured out “dominant” means that asshole baby that’s taking every ones stuff?? Basically it gets handled like this. Baby takes other babies things. I say no, and give it back, explaining we don’t take. She does it again, because that’s what they do. I take it back, again explaining, and then offer her some thing else. She does it again and she gets stuck behind my back facing away from us. The behavior generally stops. If the toy has many pieces, I will try and encourage them to take turns and play together. And I direct the turns, “ok, it’s A’s turn. Oh good job A, now it’s B’s turn!” Which usually goes well with the baby wanting to take the toy. But doesn’t go over quite as well with the baby who had the toy.
What shocks me, is at this point, I have people who watch them play telling me that they can’t believe they play so well together. I’d like to think I helped shape that. But maybe they are just good babies? Truth be told. Because I started this so early, before it had a chance to become an actual behavior, I didn’t really have to do this very much. And that’s what I really feel is the secret. Stopping it before it had a chance to become an actual behavior.
I feel like this is a form of baby proofing. All the twin advice says that you might not have had to baby proof with a singleton. But you will have to, no matter what, with twins. I am baby proofing their interactions with each other. And giving them the skills to be happier together. And, maybe I sound like a control freak. I might be. But really, this is just me not wanting to deal with more crap than I have to deal with!
Babies can totally understand “No.” I know the girls understood it before they were a year old. But I have an anecdotal story about it. I believe the girls were 15 months. We had to stop at a rest stop because it takes forever to drive anywhere where I live. Baby A started to run behind the counter. I told her “no, don’t go behind the counter.” She looks up at me with her big doe eyes and stops. She points, and nods, which is her way of asking, “I just want to do this, can I do this?” I repeat, “Thank you for asking, but no, don’t go behind the counter.” So she smiles at me and slides one foot behind the counter. Satisfied with listening to me and getting her way we had a good laugh. (Secretly I was dying inside because this is exactly how both I am, and my son is)
If you choose to do this. There will be emotions. I remember the last time we really had a big hitting issue with both babies. One was from hitting me, and the other was hitting her sister. And it was a lot of hitting both times. I put them behind me. And then after they got done crying they came to me and I said they hurt their sister or me. Both of them started crying over it. I don’t know if it was my voice. Or if they understood what hurting the other one was. I just remember in the moment being panicked that this was what parenting girls, with all their emotions was like. But really… after that ONE time with each of them, I don’t recall them ever crying like that over the redirection. Or even being that aggressive again.
Again. I might just be lucky, and my girls are really mellow. Or maybe I just haven’t hit the thick of it yet (which yeah, I know I’m not there yet). I don’t claim to have all the answers. I just wanted to share what worked for us. And why I chose to do what I did. I hope it helps someone somewhere.
(Sorry about being gone for a few months. I was studying to pass an exam. I had to make cuts to what my attention could handle. unfortunately it was the blog and my husband. Love you hunny!! I appreciate anyone who is still interested in the blog!!)