Good cop bad cop

Parenting twin toddlers is hard work, mentally and physically. As all parents of toddlers know, toddler behaviour can be frustrating and challenging. Toddlers can be a real joy, and my two make me laugh more than anything else in the world, but they are often right little buggers, too.

A while ago I wrote about how Ben and I were looking to find a parenting approach that suits both of us. I wish I could say that I had read a couple of books which gave me the magic answers, and that now we’re cruising through the trials and tribulations of toddlerdom without any stress. But that would be a big, fat lie. And I’m pretty sure lying is one of those behaviours that isn’t to be encouraged.

The truth is, we’re struggling once more to find a common approach to discipline and behaviour. Once again, Ben is falling into the ‘bad cop’ role, adopting a stricter approach than I feel comfortable with. And so I wince, as he deals with yet another tantrum in his own way and I hide away in another room, wondering how we can find a path that both of us feel comfortable with.

Being parents of twins has brought us closer together so far, as we relied so greatly on each other’s support in that tough first year and beyond. I’ve written about how active a role Ben plays as a parent, and it’s been wonderful, but now we’re into the toddler years, I’m wondering whether this harmony is set to continue. Can we find a way to agree, because without presenting a united front, we’re doomed to fail.

Ben’s natural instinct is to punish bad behaviour with time on the naughty step. My natural instinct goes against the use of the naughty step. Ben likes to look at behaviour in black and white – right and wrong. I’m more into the shades of grey.

I fully believe in the mantra, ‘reward good behaviour, ignore the bad’. But this presents its own challenges when you have twins, because often the bad behaviour involves violence against one of the siblings, so you can’t ignore it, you have to step in and intervene. But what form should this intervention take? And how do you impose it?

Right now, these are the questions keeping me awake at night.

6 comments to Good cop bad cop

  • I think you are right about the struggle with your partner’s parenting – I am constantly reminding myself that there is no ‘right’ approach and that Mummy has to be different from Daddy because we are different. I have to respect his right to be a bit stricter than I sometimes feel comfortable with, just like he has to respect my right to occasional softness and leniancy. You don’t have to be the same, you just have to respect each other’s difference. And in the end the children will benefit from this broader spectrum.

  • Really interesting post. My husband is the opposite and the lenient one – the girls have him around their little finger. Most of the time it is fine as he doesn’t undermine me. It’s annoying when he’s on lates for several days and I get the bedroom routine back in place and then he comes back and it all goes to pot. They do end up asleep though just takes a bit longer!

    Love. Love. Love you header picture by the way. Penguin paperbacks are so pretty.

  • It is really hard parenting twin toddlers – all I can suggest from my own experience is as they get older it does get better. I am strict but fair and use time out sessions – when one twin is naughty (3 verbal warnings beforehand) and then its into the travel cot/baby jail). Naughty step doesn’t work as we have the stair gate in the way and they won’t sit still anyway! The loss of their freedom or the threat of it seems to work for us. We try to be as consistent with this method working as a team. Lots of praise for very good behavior and you have to sometimes harden your heart to the wails of protest and anger. It will pass and they won’t hold it against you for being a firm. Especially the twin which is getting all the squashing or rough end of things…Right now my two will happily play alongside each other but then when one wants what the other has or interrupts or spoils the game all hell breaks loose. Sometimes they work it out without my intervening but I draw the line at hair pulling, poking, slaps and pushing over. We recently got the boys hair all cut off (number 3 and number 6) at the barbers to avoid hair pulling during boisterous wrestling sessions which start out with giggles but end up in fisticuffs. Also at toddler age they are testing you and testing barriers in how far they can take things. It helps we had a solo child first so know the signs and learnt how to deal with one! But it doesn’t make it any easier coping with twins who are 2!

  • Its interesting to read – we are the other way around in that I’m the one that has fallen into stricter parent whilst Mr is more leniant BUT only up to a point at which stage he tends to go nuclear

    We’ve had to agree that we parent differently and have a slightly different line in the sand but that there are a few things that we agree on – no biting, eating nicely, manners and tidying up at the end of the day

    We also try and back each other up when we’re together but also to allow one parent to navigate out of zero-survivability situations, to be the facilitator of getting the apology or whatever

  • Now that LLC is definitely getting quite cheeky, we are also trying to figure out the right balance of discipline. I tend to think like you, in those shades of grey. Maybe it’s about finding solidarity between you and Ben on the big issues and letting your differences regarding smaller offences go? One thing I observed from random parents, which I quite liked, was after a little girl who had been warned continued being naughty at a lunch, her dad took her outside for a time out of sorts and then bringing her back in once she cooled off. She then went right to her mum and apologized. This might not work in public as you are looking after two, but perhaps if you are together, or with friends, it could work? All food for thought.

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