Taming two toddlers

They may look like butter wouldn't melt, but they are quickly fine-tuning their tantrum skills

Young Daddy and I had that conversation last night. No, not that conversation (we’ll be remaining a family of four for the foreseeable future). The conversation about discipline and boundaries, and how to police those boundaries.

Ez and Fonz are firmly in tantrum territory, and we’ve agreed that we need to present a united front, and show consistency in how we deal with diva behaviour. Young Daddy favours a stricter approach, whereas I’m a little more of the ‘anything for an easier life’ school, so it’s going to be interesting trying to come up with an approach that will suit both of our styles.

My concern is that Fonz and his dad are both very strong-willed and are already butting heads with an increasing regularity. I’d like to find ways to diffuse the situation before the battle lines are drawn, so that we can avoid what I can see might become a tempestuous relationship, and a fierce clash of wills. Rather than fight about every little thing, I’d prefer to pick the issues that are most important to us, and concentrate on those.

Basically we’re all over the place at the moment. We’re unsure what Ez and Fonz’s level of understanding is, and how much we can expect of them at this age. Before we make any decisions about how we’d like to manage challenging behaviour, I’d like to do some research and reading. So if you’ve read a book on toddlers that you’d recommend, please leave me a comment below. I know that TAMBA (Twins And Multiple Births Association) runs parenting workshops focusing on parenting with multiples in mind, so that may also be an option.¬†And I’d love to hear any pearls of wisdom you have to share.

And just look what turned up on my doorstep last week! All courtesy of the very kind Fairy Hobmother from Appliances Online who sell cookers, fridges and other white goods. It cheered me up no end in what was a bit of a low week, so huge thanks to them.

13 comments to Taming two toddlers

  • Carrie Smith

    I’ve been reading Secrets of the Baby Whisperer with Toddlers – but, I’m still struggling and not specific advice for twins!
    x

  • I think Littler understands far more than we realise and she’s a similar age – we’re going through a big attack on boundaries with her, not helped by having a big sister for whom EVERYTHING is a negotiation

    Her biggest thing at the moment is refusing flatly to sit down at mealtimes… if I’ve said sit on your bottom once, I’ve said it a million times, and there are not straps invented that will keep her contained in a chair

  • Personally my instinct is toward your style of parenting rather than your husband’s. Do you want to be fighting with your kids all day? What do you really want to achieve with/for them? (questions for him rather than you really!)

    The best thing I did was a course at SureStart called Family Nurturing. If you google you should be able to find their website. It helped a lot with expectations, appropriate behaviour for their age (at the time I only had one but have two now) and understanding things from their perspective. It was also so useful just to talk to other parents in the same boat. So I reckon the TAMBA course sounds like a great idea.

    I’ve also heard good things about Toddler Taming, although I got it from a car boot sale and haven’t actually started reading it yet!

    Also, my OH and I aren’t consistent when we’re apart, eg if he’s doing bathtime he won’t let the 2yo drink the water, whereas I’m not fussed. Same with climbing over the edge of the sofa. If he’s here and saying no I’ll back him up. But my parents have different ways and rules when they look after my kids which isn’t confusing, so I figure learning that Mummy doesn’t mind x but Daddy doesn’t like it shouldn’t be too disruptive… Maybe that will have to change in later years, but at the moment I refuse to spend all day telling my kids off for little stuff just for the sake of consistency.

  • For me the thing that worked for me and J was me learning to let *minor* things go. He would get a word or so for it but I wouldn’t clash with him over it if it wasn’t something major. The major things he would tantrum over would be when I wouldnt allow him to do soemthing for safetys sake. The other thing I learnt was avoidance is a good tactic! It worked really well for J and mainly involved distracton of some sort, be that “LOOK theres a train over there” or “Wow have you seen what this toy can do”.

    Cant imagine doing it with two! Good luck hun! And they do stop in the end! Honest! Or not stop just gets less frequent!

  • I love Toddler Taming, and you might find that your husband finds it acceptable.

    My little boy is almost 2, and I find I really have to pick what’s worth the battle, and what really isn’t worth it. My husband is stricter than me, and sometimes says stuff that I just don’t like, is a bit too authoritarian over stuff that really doesn’t matter.

    Over the big stuff we’re pretty much united. I am sure you’ll find what works for you, it will just take some time. The TAMBA course sounds ace though. Our surestart don’t do parenting courses, I might suggest it!

  • After 4 kids I feel I am finally getting it right with BB and it’s all about not sweating the small stuff. Pick your arguments carefully, decide what REALLY matters and remember that most things pass very quickly! I remember reading Toddler Taming and enjoying it. I have liked everything by Steve Biddulph and I really liked ‘Do Not Disturb:The Benefits of Relaxed Parenting for You and Your Child’ by Deborah Jackson. Good luck and I am here anytime for a natter. x

  • I agree with Chris, choose your battles, hard to know which one but the tantrums boil down to their frustration and lack of being able to communicate clearly or ‘I want it now’. My twins have very different personalities and before The Foley Artist could walk he always came off the worse when Mr Fashion snatched and ran off with his toys. I did a lot of time out by putting him in the Travel cot/play pen so he could see that his action has a consequence, lots of stern warnings and finger wagging in THE VOICE. Effective to the point 4 year old big sister mimics me when she is telling them off. Now The Foley Artist is up and running he can fight his battle a bit better but the constant mantra of ‘Share, share’ still rings hollow and will do for some time! We’re getting there though, with family trips out I try to schedule around nap times and meal times so they are not over tired or hungry. Lots of distractions en route e.g songs or snacks and give them plenty of time to blow off steam when they are let out of their buggy, running about before counting down to let them know its time to leave. Have to do this face to face with each child rather than shout it out to mid air. Boys need to be tapped on shoulder and your face down to their level to get their full attention – as told to me by SiL who did Child Psychology. They understand more than what they can say. If I am taking them out on my own to pop into Tescos they have to stay firmly in the buggy or jammed into the shopping trolly, I cannot have them run about as its too hard on my own to round them up. Yes there are melt downs but I ignore the stares from strangers – let them try and control a set of toddler twins before they judge. Me a bit thicked skin – had to be after all the unwanted attention I used to face when I was pregnant and enormous with them, when they were tiny prem babies and constant Q’s about my fertility, twin status etc. Really some people are just soooo nosey and a bit stupid with the Q’s….Hello no they are not identical, yes they are twins, no twins do not have to look alike. Duh! You mentioned on Twitter about losing Fonz for a minute – heart stopping moment I am sure. I have those fluro security wristbands with my mobile number on the inside worn by each tot for those just in case moments. I bought a stack off ebay and whenever we go out somewhere new or with big crowds its that extra peace of mind if I do lose one..not that its ever happened to us.

  • mummylimited

    We are in similar territory at the moment, so am not sure how valid my advice will be, but I can see MM trying to gain some control over his world in any way he can. Mckdad and I are more in your school of parenting, but we are finding it hard to get the balance between over controlling him and setting boundaries. We were discussing it yesterday and I am going to try and ask myself why I want to stop him doing something. Is it just because it is slightly annoying or is it really something I don’t want him to do.
    I found Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph really helpful and also am a fan of Dr Sears who has a behaviour book that spans quite an age range so is a bit light on toddler stuff, but worth a look. Anything that gives me more understanding about why they are behaving in the way they are.
    I take heart from the fact that people like Chris and Victoria take a relaxed view and their kids *seem* ;) well behaved and well adjusted. Gives me hope that I don’t have to be in battle with MM all day.
    Let me know if you have any good ideas though!

  • Oh! I feel for you, I really do! That was the first time I really honestly found that two was harder than one. I blogged about it here http://isthereaplanb.blogspot.com/2010/08/terrible-two.html although you’ll see I have no answers. The good news is, six months later, I think they are on their way out of it. I’m not saying they don’t still have tantrums, but they are much easier to calm down and they seem to happen less often. The approach? Mostly just wait and hope, but also try and separate them if you can, and consistency, consistency, consistency. Don’t threaten anything you can’t or won’t follow through (If you’re going on holiday, don’t say “if you blah blah blah, we won’t go on holiday”, because we all know you’re going whatever happens), and try and agree an outline approach with young daddy – at the very least the things that are totally unacceptable (eg biting, hitting etc). The short fix we have found with all three that works is taking them outside. If one is kicking off and we are both there (which makes it tricky in the day time I admit) one of us picks her up and takes her outside for five minutes – in London we stood on the doorstep, ignoring the passers by, here we wander round the garden. Somehow the change of scene seems to help. We then tell her we’re going back inside and going to have a bath (or whatever) and normally, normally, it works….

    As for books. We liked Toddler Taming too although I read it for L, and haven’t revisted for S&A, so can’t remember how he is on twins.

  • I also like the toddler taming book, I think Christopher Green has a very realistic approach/view. But I feel for you. I’ve been through it with MOnty, am coming out the other side but it has been tough for well over a year. Double that for you guys which has got to sting. When you get there it is amazing and I am going through a phase of feeling so choked at Montys great behaviour!

  • Toddler Taming by Dr Green is good and offers practical and very rationale ‘real’ advice. But I have to say the biggest lesson I learnt was from Geekymummy who said listen to your kids and use empathy (as per How to talk so kids will Listen – a reasonable read too). Tilly’s about your twins’ age and she gets the naughty step and she has tantrums. But mostly I just ignore bad behaviour and reward good. It’s working slowly with Eliza but I think when they are Tilly’s and Ez and Fonz’s age it’s hard work. They understand some but you do pretty much have to go through this rather arduous cycle of tantrum, distract (if you’re lucky), ignore (if you can bear it), tantrum gets worse, naughty step, cuddle, all over. It’s hard because they don’t seem to learn. You would have thought it would be like Pavlov’s dog but it isn’t.

    God another waffly comment from me. If you search for tantrum on my blog you’ll see that I’ve been there with bells on. My two are spirited, much like Fonz both of my are strong willed. It’s bloody hard work.

    Anyway on another note, we must meet up. I’m soon to be a free (of the day job) woman. Will blog it soon (when it’s all done and dusted) but would be lovely to meet at last and get the twins and Tilly together. xx

  • I’m not as far along in my journey as you know (and only have one on my plate) but can already see LLC has a strong personality, and Chris and I have talked a bit about how we parent that so as not to quell her spirit but also set some boundaries. For me, a united front seems important for the big things, even if your day to day parenting styles are different. I’m a fan of explaining why LLC can’t do something and then trying to distract her, but in the face of a full-on tantrum where distraction isn’t working, at the moment I’d be inclined to ignore it and let it run it’s course. I also take her outside for a change of scene like Harriet mentioned. Lots of great advice here for me to mull on too.

  • Natasha

    Alex is a bit younger then your two but I’m reading Positive Discipline; the first three years and it seems full of sound, kind advice. I’m not keen on the idea of shouting/time-outs etc, in fact I’m also reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn but I might not be quite so idealistic once the tantrums start for real.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Positive-Discipline-Toddler–Laying-Foundation-Confident/dp/B000OVLKEA/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303820130&sr=1-4

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