6 Discipline Tips That Work For Twin Toddlers


These two smiling faces are the ones that come to my mind when I think of where I want to take my girls behaviour-wise in a year's time. Their mommy in my opinion is a great example of the balance I am trying to achieve with Sugar and Spice when it comes to discipline. Her style is firm but not stiffling. Her girls are lively AND well-behaved. I was tickled pink when MandyE agreed to share her discipline tips in this guest post. Read, enjoy and be blessed!

When Olusola asked me to write on the topic of discipline, I was at once honored and scared.  While I think our 3 ½-year old twin girls are generally well-behaved, I feel like a pretty far cry from an expert on the art of discipline.

I’m here to share a few of the overarching tenets of what has worked for us over the past couple of years.  I don’t know that there are any “answers” here, but I hope it might spur some dialogue.  The only thing I’m certain of is that there’s no one right answer, and we can all learn at least a little something from each other.

1.  Use positive phrases


I read this somewhere when our girls were much smaller, that children respond better to a phrase such as, “Hands off!” versus “Don’t touch!”  It sometimes requires some thinking in how to phrase something more positively, but I think it makes sense.

I’m telling my girls what they can / should do, instead of what they can’t do.

It certainly makes for a more positive atmosphere at our house, and I think that’s good for all our psyches. 

Further, I try to reserve saying “NO!” for situations in which it really matters, like when someone is in danger.  I like to think that, since the girls don’t often hear that command, it makes much more of an immediate impression.


2.  Give choices

In keeping with the positive lexicon, I try to give my girls choices when I can…choices that all result in my desired outcome, of course.  My favorite example is, instead of saying, “Don’t stand on the sofa,” I tell the girls, “Get your bottom on the seat or your feet on the carpet.”  Either is a win.

3.  Position your children to succeed

Since our girls were infants, we’ve adhered to a daily schedule for meals, naps, and bedtime.  Given that, I can project when our girls will be more attentive, and when they’re more likely to fidget and not follow directions.

It’s not always convenient with what I want to do, but I don’t take my girls out when they’re hungry or tired.  If naptime is approaching, it’s not fair of me to expect them to behave as they would mid-morning, when they’ve just had a reenergizing snack.

Likewise, I’m not going to take my girls browsing for fine china by myself.  There are too many temptations, and a small misstep (which is going to happen occasionally!) could have huge ramifications.

Finally, I go back to the idea of options.  For example, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a child to go into a store and literally not touch one single thing.  I tell the girls that they can touch things with one finger.  “One finger, please!” I’ll remind them as they start to reach for something bright and shiny.  That gives them a little bit of autonomy…but – excepting a china shop – touching most things at Target or the grocery store with one finger is generally pretty harmless.

4.  Pick a method of punishment that has meaning relative to your child’s age

When the girls were small, I spent a lot of time distracting them from undesirable behavior.  I can’t remember the exact moment in time, but at some point – maybe 18 months or so? – consequences-based discipline began to make sense.  If our girls threw a toy, that toy was put into “time out” for a period of time.  If our girls took their shoes off in the back of the car, they had to be carried into the restaurant instead of being allowed to walk.

I first tried using time-outs when our girls were about two, but it seemed like a huge game to them.  They were much closer to three when they started to dislike time out…and I silently threw a little party!

After consulting with a handful of more experiences mamas, I decided to employ the “1-2-3 Magic” approach, by which a child get two reminders for minor infractions before she’s put into time out.

A big tenet of this methodology is that the adult is to maintain her cool, counting infractions without emotion.  I repeat to myself so often, “Never let ‘em see you sweat.”  This is meant to reinforce to the child that it’s her actions that are resulting in the consequences.  And I think it helps avoid children seeking attention – especially negative attention.

5.  Respond to positive behavior, and do not respond to negative behavior

I praise my girls when they are behaving nicely.  I try not to go overboard…I don’t want to have them constantly seeking affirmation…but when they use nice manners, for example, I’ll acknowledge it by saying, “Thank you for asking so nicely.”

On the other end of the spectrum, I saw a quote from a friend a few months ago, oddly very related to parenting.  “I do not respond to terrorism.” 

If our girls try to demand more milk, their words will be met with a certain raised eyebrow, or perhaps a blank stare.  They are quickly (and silently) reminded to reword their request.

If our girls whine, I’ll calmly remind them, “I need you to use your big-girl words.  Mommy can’t understand whining.”

And…especially thinking about those tantrums that can be indicative of the two’s and three’s (and beyond???)…the crying doesn’t phase me.  Of course it does sometimes phase me, at which point you’ll find me repeating, “Never let ‘em see you sweat…I do not respond to terrorism…this, too, shall pass…bedtime will be here in three more hours.”  J  I’m mostly kidding, though.  At least to date, when our girls see that they won’t get their way with tears, they snap out of it pretty quickly.

6.  Be realistic

Kids are kids.  I sometimes have to remind myself that my three-year old may be able to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but she’s still only three...still largely motivated by what she wants, when she wants it.  It’s my job to help her shape her actions, but it’s all relative. 

Wow…I didn’t plan to write a book of my own here!  If you’re still with me, thank you for reading. 

At the end of the day, we are all finding our way through raising our children.  Every child is different, and we often have to work to figure out what works with each of our kiddos.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on these topline points.  What’s worked at your house?
 
Mandy's Thing 1 and Thing 2
Now THOSE are what I consider simple and achievable tips that can actually set a parent of twins (and singleton) toddlers up for success. Do me a favor please, stop  by Mandy's blog and tell her "Thank You" for me

Further Reading


26 comments

  1. this is great! i parent my twin boys the exact same way. seriously. every single thing. i have an older child (ten years older!) and i swear it has been easier raising my twins because i have to be so much more consistant. it's just so much more clear with two that routine is key. my first turned out wonderfully and we have such a special bond but it's amazing how being more routine oriented and consistant is actually easier!

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    1. True talk. I don't think I would have paid much attention to being scheduled and consistent if I had a singleton

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  2. These are great tips! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks April. This is actually a guest post from a mom to older twins that I follow

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  3. Olusola... fabulous tips... not only for twins either ;) grace, peace and blessings, Carla

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    1. Thanks Carla. I think they would work for all toddlers too

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  4. That's what I sometimes forget- that kids are kids. I have started giving my daughter the freedom to make choices. It's so hard- disciplining kids. But it's possible.

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    1. I know right. Another thing that helped me is thinking more "montessori-like". Instead of seeing their mischief as mischief, I see them as learning opportunities. Gives me a more laid back approach

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  5. Hi there, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

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  6. I think these discipline tips goes for all kids. I'm having such trouble doing the first one and not saying negative phrases when I don't want Jacob to do something. I need more practice!

    Love,

    Roxi
    www.MommyRoxi.com

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    1. That's been challenging for me as well. I have another post on how I managed this. It's at http://www.mytwintopia.com/2012/07/positive-words-for-positive-behaviour.html

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  7. I do that same thing with 2 warnings, but I usually have them take a Popsicle stick away 2 times and then the third time they have to take one away and get a time-out. The popsicle sticks are earned to get prizes when they have so many and they get them by being good and completing tasks. The staying calm point that you made is sooo important. I like the phrase that you repeat to yourself. I will definitely be using that because I can loose my cool occasionally. Stopping by from WFMW. I am a new follower. Thanks for sharing. Hope to see you at True Aim!

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    1. The popsicle stick sounds like it could be part of our discipline arsenal when the girls are much older. Thanks for sharing

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  8. I'm going to remember these for my babies! I am sure these would work for singletons too but I think because twins might respond to negativity with double the "force" remembering to stay positive and provide set guidelines are imperative.

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    1. Yep, plus twins love to "mirror" each other so good and bad behaviour is usually duplicated for fun :)

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  9. I just passed this on to my good friend with twins. plus love some of these tips for myself! these are great!

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    1. Thanks. I try to have posts that parents especially parents of twins will find informative. I hope it comes in useful to your friend

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  10. These are great tips for all parents, not just parents of twins. We always saved NO! for dire emergencies. The word shocked my boys so much they'd freeze in place. :)

    "Stop!" worked so well to keep them from moving forward - up a ladder, onto the counter or into the street, that we use it with our dog. The moment she hears "Stop!" she drops to her haunches, sits and waits for me to get her. Even chasing rabbits through the neighbor's yard, if I yell "stop" she freezes. Oooohhhhh, I can't believe I'm commenting about my dog!

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    1. I think I missed the bus on saving NO for critical occasions )LOL!) I tried but it just didn't work. I'm trying to reduce my nos these days though so hopefully it will start carrying more weight again

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  11. Chuckled at this phrase in #2: “Get your bottom on the seat or your feet on the carpet.” It takes a lot of retraining for moms to be so creative. Your post is a great one for all parents to read and put into use.

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  12. Olusola...thank you so much for your kind words. I am very humbled you asked me to write this post for your blog. It was so nice to read through the comments, too. We parents are definitely in this together, learning from each other, which I always find so encouraging. Thank you again! :)

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  13. Yay! I'm sharing these tips with my husband. Thank you for this can be helpful to us already. My son is turning 18 months old on the 13th.

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    1. oh I mean the 30th not the 13th. :)

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  14. I really learned a lot from these pointers. My baby's almost 1 and we're beginning to realize that we have next to no experience in handling toddler discipline. Right now we're still trying to keep trouble at bay by distractions or keeping things she can't play with out of reach, but we're oh-so-close to the time when discipline is essential. Thanks so very much for linking up with me this week, Olusola. You have no idea how much I needed to read this. Heading to Mandy's blog now!

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  15. Thanks for this. I'm going to forward this to my daughter. Her youngest 2 are very close in age and she is a teacher in a day care center. No doubt she knows lots of things that I don't but it can never hurt to have a few more tips.

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  16. These tips are very helpful. I've been working on implementing them into our daily routine. I've started saying, "feet on the floor or...". I try to catch my self when I say "don't" or "no" and turn it into something positive. "Never let 'em see you sweat" is such a good motto! I'll be using that one, too! Thanks Mandy!

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