Twin Toddlers need routine! They need to know (roughly) what comes next!
Some of you will be sending your children to a childminder or to day nursery so they will be used to being in a set routine from Monday to Friday anyway. It can help to loosely stick to their routine at weekends, so that they have their meals at roughly the same time, and any afternoon naps at a similar time.
If your children are not going to day nursery or a child minder it would be a good idea to have them in a routine so that they eat at similar times each day, take a nap at similar times and go out at the same sort of times each day.
Also having a night time routine that is also the same can help them settle better at night.
If you observe them carefully you should be able to work out when your toddlers are at their most alert, and when they like to sleep, and when they get hungry and fit their routine around this.
Do things your twins would find most challenging during the times that they are least tired and not hungry. If you wait until it’s almost meal time or nap time you’re setting yourself up for a tough time! If they’re happy and fed, and had a drink then they are likely to be in a better mood and cooperate more. It is a good idea to tell them what is coming next, even if they have no real concept of time.
Terrible two’s x 2!
Most parents find that their children become more challenging when they are around two, hence the term ‘terrible twos’. Don’t worry this is a normal part of their development and simply a phase that they go through. The best way of dealing with the terrible twos is to set clear boundaries. Make sure they always know what is acceptable and what isn’t. Then be consistent. If you laugh when they do *whatever* today, laugh again when they repeat the behaviour tomorrow. Don’t laugh at something today and then tell them off for it tomorrow or they will get confused.
Ignore any behaviour that is only mildly unacceptable. Have a planned consequence for any behaviour that is very unacceptable, such as biting, fighting, hair pulling, pinching, spitting tantrums etc. Let them know that they will be going to the naughty step for a time out, or having something taken off them (or whatever) if they do the particular behaviour. The rule is they go to the naughty step for one minute per year of their life, up to a maximum of ten minutes. Should they refuse to go to the naughty step or leave before their allotted time is up, the time starts over again. Once time out is completed, they should then acknowledge why they were there and apologise to you.
Often when children are badly behaved they want attention, and any kind of attention will do, they don’t care whether it is positive attention or negative attention. So the best way to avoid them constantly wanting your attention by doing naughty things is to praise them profusely for anything GOOD that they do. If they sit nicely, eat nicely, play nicely, share, etc, praise them. Praise them when they come back to you when you call them. Notice what they do that you’d like them to do again.
Give them positive feed back that they are behaving well, that you were really happy that they looked out for their friend earlier, or that they said ‘Please’ when they asked for a drink. If you would like to you can reinforce this by having an instant rewards jar (filled with cheap fun toys that you give out when someone does something nice). Star charts also work well, particularly if you have one that they share, rather than them having a competition.
If your toddlers are encountering a new situation for the first time, you will have to explain to them what is going to happen and how they should behave. Unfortunately they don’t come pre-programmed knowing how to behave at a place of worship, airport, another persons house, a restaurant, etc.
Make sure that you don’t have all your children’s toys out at once, put a couple of big boxes away for another day, so when they get bored of one set, you can swap over the boxes and have a whole ‘new’ set to play with. It also stops your living room/ play room / their bedrooms from getting very messy. Joining your local toy library can also be a great idea. Here you can borrow a toy each, usually for a small fee. They can have them to play with for a week or two and then take them back and get a new one. They sometimes hire bigger toys for parties and other events which is a real bonus.
It can also help if you keep your sentences very simple, often when faced with lots of words small children ‘switch off’! This particularly applies if you are trying to get them to do things. Ask them only to do one thing at a time.
A little time apart occasionally?
It can be really good for twin toddlers to occasionally spend some time apart from each other. This can be a simple thing like one twin going with mummy to collect a takeaway/ newspaper/ run an errand whilst the other one stays with Daddy/ Grandparent/ Trusted friend and does something else. It helps them to be able to be separate. If they do seem a little anxious at first, reassure them. It is quite common for twins to be a little anxious at first as they are so used to having their twin just there the whole time. Some twins go to nursery one day a week on their own, so they can have some quality one to one time with their parent. This can work well for some twins. However some do become quite stressed at first, so play this one by ear. If you find that they hate being separated you could simply do something in a different room one to one for a little while and build up slowly to going somewhere.