Archive for September, 2010
When Multiples Are the Bullies……
When the aggressors are the multiples in the house or at school, things can really get challenging. Because of the bond multiples have, they may “gang up” on younger, and even older siblings, or teachers/school chums. As a gang, they can be a force to be reckoned with.
If some bullying behaviour is going on at home or school, here are some ideas to help defuse the situation:
~first and foremost, congratulate yourself for reading this article. You have recognized that there are issues in your household and you are attempting to rectify them. Good for you! ~avoid referring to the multiples as “the twins,” “the triplets” and so on. This reinforces the package deal and in truth, they are individuals who happened to arrive together. Use the childrenʼs names at all times even when speaking to friends, family and peers to reinforce their individuality.
~think about giving the multiples their own rooms (if possible). This action gives them less time together to scheme.
~splitting up play dates, errands, sleepovers dilutes their “power” and helps them learn to separate from each other as well as dramatically changes the family dynamics. The bonus is that you get to spend time with each of your children in a completely different fashion.
~foster a relationship between your other children if you have more than one other. This relationship is also special and can become lost within a multiplesʼ relationship. Even if they are different sexes, they can enjoy being and playing together.
~set aside a “King/Queen for a day” day where each child gets to pick the family activities, chores, perhaps menu, outings. Making each child feel special is great for self-esteem and learning patience until it is there turn to be in charge.
~connect with other families in your area with children about the same ages as yours so that they can pair off and each have their own special friends. ~reinforce common interests amongst all the children. Depending upon their age ranges, it could be the park, colouring, skiing, skating, sports, music and so on. ~look for at least one special skill in each of your children and help foster that skill, so that they will feel good about themselves and help them stand separate from their siblings.
~give your other children the tools to handle bullying. Screaming and crying only makes things worse. Providing tools to help control their environment empowers each child. There are some good books and Web Sites to help you with those tools.*
~making each child a part of the solution and not a part of the problem is not always easy, but is in the best interests of all. With practice, positivity replaces the negativity and again, empowers each child. No matter how small the good behaviour, focus on it and unless they are putting each other in physical danger, ignore the bad behaviour. When one of the multiples is praised for passing the milk to a sibling for example, eventually that praise takes precedence and replaces the behaviour of refusing, ignoring or “you didnʼt say please” type of behaviour.
~realize that what is “fair” is constantly changing over time as your children grow and develop. It will be affected by the maturity level and capabilities of each child. A later bed time, for example, may be negotiated and influenced by behaviour during the day, if it is a school night, and the age of the children. Flexible and changing rules help children understand that some goals are earned and teaches them about negotiating and consequences.
~try to keep calm. Children, even young ones, pick up very quickly on the mood and tensions around them and will try to exploit it to their advantage. It isnʼt always easy but keeping calm, using a low voice, being consistent and working together as partners (i.e. Mom and Dad agreeing with how to handle the situation so the children canʼt play one against the other) goes a long way to helping the children remember who is in charge. If you are really angry about something that has just occurred, indicate, “I am really angry right now and cannot speak to you. When I have calmed down, we will talk about what just happened.” This statement lets them know your limits and boundaries, and rather than immediately flying off the handle and doing/saying something rash, taking the time to cool down and revisiting the issue at a later time is the wisest step to take.
~donʼt dress them alike so that they are not perceived as a package and each can be easily identified by teachers and peers.
~try to put them in separate classes at school. It will help each (all) develop their own friends and give them less opportunity to get together to collude.
~encourage teachers to learn what is different about the children and to focus on the differences rather than how much they might be alike.
~encourage teachers to call the children by their names and not “the twins,” “the triplets” or some combination name. When peers see that teachers use individual names, so will their peers do so too.
~remind teachers that your children are individuals and will have individual capabilities and interests.
~ask teachers not to compare them to each other. Comparison sets up them up to be competitive and perhaps aggressive.
~if your multiples are bullies at home, check in with their teachers from time to time to ensure that their behaviour in school is acceptable.
Books Parenting School-Age Twins and Multiples, Christina Baglivi Tinglof, McGraw Hill, 2007
The Bully and the Bullier and the Bystander: From Pre-School to High School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence, Barbara Coloroso, 2008
Web Sites Googling Bullying turns up many helpful Sites. I am not listing any because they change so often.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
There is no recommended age per se but there are some factors which can help with the decision.
~one is a sleeper and one doesn’t need as much sleep. It can make it easier all around to have them apart so that they do not disturb each other;
~sometimes multiples don’t get along, even if it is just a stage. Providing each with their own space can be very helpful;
~with separate spaces, there is a better chance of one-on-one time, a challenge for all parents with multiples. With our twin girls, we had story time together, then each went to their separate rooms for cuddles, “how was your day,” and anything else they needed (about 5 mins. each worth);
~you know your children best and you might just feel that having time apart from each would benefit both, even if it is mainly sleep time;
~separate spaces help multiples separate from each other and yet they remain in hearing distance of each other, and
~if you need to separate, let them be a part of setting up their own spaces. You might let them arrange the furniture the way this wish, or choose their own wall colour (from a choice of two) or bed linens. Making them a part of the solution whenever and wherever possible helps alleviate stresses and fears. Involving them with setting up their rooms also works well with transitioning from cribs to real beds. Everyone likes some control, even little ones.
Remember too that the younger they are, the easier it is to control, in other words separating 6 or 8-months olds can be a lot easier than trying to
separate 5-year olds.
Good luck and have fun with it.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )