Monkey See “No-No”, Monkey Do “No-No”!
By Cheryl Lage
We are now at a stage that I am confused about (11 months). I say no to one twin, and the other one drops what he or she is doing, runs over, and has to do the same thing wrong. I am thinking I need to say "No", and right away focus on something good and get the positive attention out there and FAST! Any ideas? I need an example. I have worked at day cares, and once in while the kids would act like this, but with these two it is every time!
Thanks in advance
Ahhhh....Welcome to the world of Clever Couples of Kids! Truthfully, while it may be of little comfort to you, to my eyes, this is a STRONG indication you have very bright, and best of all, ready to learn, twins on your hands!
While many might contend that babies so young don’t “understand” correction, I believe 100% that babies DO learn cause and effect…and they are in that “sponge-like brain”/absorb-everything phase. Your “No” is wisely-said----and your wise babies are working double-time (e.g. one after the other) trying to ascertain what action/behavior results in that response. Stay consistent! While the behavior may not come to a full and complete stop immediately, chances are, with twice the “corrected” infractions, they’ll “learn” doubly-fast! Stray from your consistent response even once, and they’ll be VASTLY confused and will likely commit various and sundry “No!”-evoking acts to try to re-establish what those boundaries are. Yes, the constant necessity of reinforcing your expectations can be exhausting (moms of singly-born children even complain about this…imagine our plural plight!), but stay the course. You’ll experience the desired results faster. Be ready. If a sickness is in house, if you’re amidst a big developmental stage, is anything in the babies “normal” existence varies, for some reason, those upheavals tend to result in a window of time in which the twins “need to re-determine what is predictable and consistent”. Those times for us were always punctuated with LOTS of regressive “poor” behavior in which they’d act in ways they undoubtedly KNEW would result in “No!” or a time-out, whatever stage we’re in consequence-wise.
Thankfully, a very few consistently applied “consequences” prove refresher enough after the regression.
As far as your goal of getting the “positive” out there, you are wise to want to find the opportunities for reinforcing the behaviors you desire, rather than merely correcting the behaviors you don’t! Of course as twin Mamas, we spend so much time “talking” (often in correction) that when well-behaved moments of silence occur, we tend to enjoy them and keep quiet ourselves. Of course those are the KEY times to compliment how “nicely everyone is playing together”, “everyone is treating their toys so nicely”, “you’re doing such a nice job staying in our playspace”, etc. Ecnourage those behaviors you seek from your twins.
If you (or readers) are thinking “Well there’s no way the babies can really understand all these concepts,” my response is a kind, “It doesn’t really matter!” We don’t know exactly WHEN each baby will figure out the “meaning” of your words, but you’ve already decided what guidelines you’d like them to adhere to….go ahead vocalize them! Speak them aloud for your personal reinforcement, for them to understand as soon as they possibly can, for consistency in their experience (and babies THRIVE with consistency) and at the very least, they’ll get to hear the sound and tone of your voice…which they may be able to translate FAR earlier than your words. After all, why do we tell them we love them from the get-go? Love’s a pretty lofty term…we have faith they “get it”. Let’s give our little ones some credit and acknowledge they probably “get” far more than we think they do!
Hang in there, the intensified twin-fractions DO get very challenging. Trust that the earlier and more consistently you correct verbally, the sooner you’ll see a modification of their collective behavior. (Don’t be surprised if they vary in how long it takes them to “learn”…one may catch on “quicker”, and the other will sooner the next time….and there will be lots of “next times”…you’ll make it, and so will they!)
Thanks for a great question!
Feel free to contact me with your experiences in twin potty-training, or with any twin parenting dilemnas you may have at http://www.twinsights.com. I hope to hear from you!