Wednesday, August 22, 2012

4 year old twins egg each other on

I have 4 year old boy/girl twins. Both are fairly good and independent of each other but they play off of each other when they get rowdy. In other words, I feel like I have no control if I try to discipline them when they are playing together. They have their own built in playmate who eggs them on when I'm telling them no. I have a harder time with my son than my daughter. He will hit, have attitude, look me in the eye and do exactly what I tell him not to do, etc. We have tried time outs but I feel like my anger escalates to yelling and spanking and personally, I don't like myself like that, nor do I feel like it's effective. If he doesn't get his way, he will scream and tell me I'm a bad mommy or that he doesn't love me which of course breaks my heart. Any advice on how to handle this situation? It is affecting our whole household. Thank you!!

     Hi, Twins can have a special relationship and support each other, which sometimes makes it difficult if they are misbehaving.  In general, their close relationship is a good thing, but if they are misbehaving, I would separate them and give them each a time out or other brief consequence, even if one of them is more defiant than the other.  If one child is egging the other on, then both are involved, and both should receive a consequence.  This will encourage them to not support the other's misbeavior or risk a consequence.

     In order for consequences to be effective, they must be something that the children care about.  Some possibilities include time outs, loss of television time, loss of a favorite activity, or earlier to bed.  What do your children care about more?  Whatever you choose, it should be brief.  The next day everyone should start with a clean slate.

     You can also use brief incentives for self-control or cooperative behavior.  If you do this, give concrete examples of what you are looking for.  Incentives can be extra television or computer time, or an extra game with you. 

     Sometimes it is helpful to use your hand like a stop sign if the children are misbehaving and count slowly to three.  If they stop by the time you get to three, they earn a point, and if they get two points over one or two days, they earn the incentive.  (I  would also give them a point if they do not need you to put up your hand on a given day because they have behaved well.)

    When your son screams and tells you are a bad Mommy, remember that he is angry and will say whatever he thinks might hurt you at that point.  I would not use your hand as a stop sign nor impose an immediate consequence at that point.  You child sounds like he is in anger overload then.   Do not take what he says (when angry) as truth.  Try your best not to respond, as he is just trying to get your goat.  If you can ignore these comments, they are likely to lessen in the coming months.  You could later on that day impose a consequence if he was misbehaving prior to his angry comments, but do not talk about consequences while he is in overload, as this will lead to a longer tantrum.

     All the best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb

No comments:

Post a Comment