I have twin boys who will be 4 in February and lately they have been behaving so badly. Being really really disrespectful to me. Doing things they know will make me mad/they know are bad ways to behave and just laughing about it. And it's things that I can't make them stop doing (like spitting, laughing at me, calling me names.......). I try to be calm and rational about it, but it gets to a point where they just push it too far and I snap and am rough with them and yell. And it obviously doesn't do anything, but I can't seem to help myself. And then of course I feel horrible...
The thing is that they are good kids and with pretty much everyone else they would never act this way. And they didn't used to be like this. But all of a sudden they just turn into little monsters and they egg each other on and I feel like I have no control whatsoever. And I can't separate them effectively because we only really have one room that we can keep one in without them just coming right out and making it into a great game for themselves. And even when I do close them in their room now, they have started doing things like tearing their beds all apart and knocking down the light and using it as a battering ram against the door, etc...
I know the worst thing I can do is let them know I have lost control, but I just don't know what to do. I feel like I must have done something terribly wrong in my parenting that they are turning into these people. Please help.
Well, I would say that is is normal in the sense that many, many kids will have that impulse and give into it once or twice or for a period of time. Unfortunately, you have to deal with the additional complication of built in cheer squad and sidekick that is twinergy. (I am a sister twin mom--my boys are now 7, and their sister is only 17 months older, so when they were that age they ALL egged each other on).
First things first--safety. I am sure you have considered this, but just double checking--if they're using things in an unsafe manner then it's time for those things to go. Lamps are gone. (I assume you are not talking about an overhead light fixture) Any heavy or stick like toys--gone. Anything that would break your heart to have it destroyed--gone. Box those things up and put them away for when this phase is behind them.
Second--how much one on one time do they get with you, individually? I have found this to be THE BEST way to manage behavior problems in the long run, from two different angles--first for my own sanity, I get to spend time with each child and get to know them more deeply, in a context other than naughtiness. Yes, we all try to do that every day, blah blah blah, but when you are in the middle of a very horrible stage you are only human and that is damn near impossible. So, even if it's a "working date", you take one child on a errand (yes, even if the other screams the whole time with your partner/mom/dad/understanding friend). IME, the child and YOU will be all the better for it, and it's very good for them to see that it's okay for a parent to spend one on one time with the individuals rather than the unit.
Third--how are YOU recharging yourself? That too is extremely important, and in hindsight I wish I had cared better for myself in that regard when my kids were younger. Everything is made worse when you perceive that it is inescapable and when you are overy invested (because you have no other outet) in what your kids are doing. I am not a huge extrovert and hate going out, once I wised up I gave myself permission to waste 1 or 2 hours every night reading or playing on the computer instead of "catching up" on housework, reading parenting books that told me how crappy I was for not farting sparkles about my parental bliss, ect. Sometimes that meant staying away from internet stuff filled with Perfectly Perfect parents too. But for you, maybe it's going for a drive while your kids nap in the car and getting a drive thru coffee or whatever.
Hugs to you. Yes, you will get through this (don't punch me, I know how annoying it is when people say that, but you WILL.). Your boys are lovely, and they have a beautiful sweet mama. Maybe you just need to tweak your schedule a bit, and take a step back and make sure that everyone is getting their individual time and recharge time. Do you know if there is a twin group in your area? One of the best things for my boys at that age was to go on "twin trade" playdates--split them up and have them have a playdate with another set of twins--one of each pair at each house. :) It really broke up the dynamic, and I was glad that I made the effort to get to know other twin mamas.
so so sorry you are going through this.
first off, you are NOT responsible for they way that other people treat you, even young children. no one person can ever MAKE another person do anything. you have to realize that these are peopel who have been puit into your life to grow. they are not yours. you are responsible for raising them ina healthy productive manner, but you can not change who they are.
going off of that. you need to find out what the issue is that is causing this. (i dont know your children, so i am making a few assumptions here.) i have been a nanny for 10 years, and am now a mother of a 2.5 year old and a 4 year old. and a subnstute teacher ata montessori pre-school. and here were my first thoughts.
you need to separate them.
send one to grandmas house, or a drop in daycare, and take the other out for a muffin. and talk to him. ask him how his day goes, what he likes to play with best, who his best friend is..and then move into bigger things. why does he call mommy names? does his brother make him feel stronger or does he feel like he needs to suport his brother when he is making bad choices? does he know that what he is doing hurts mommy inside and out? and them ask him about punnishment. what does he think should happen to him when he spits in the clean house? what does he think should happen to his brother? (not what DOES happen, what should). if mopmmy spits what should happen to her. (rules go for the whole house)
do this for each sibbling. for several hours be with one child, and talk to them. remember that boys like to be physical, so it may be easier to talk while you are swinging, eating, or building a lego tower.
after you have written down each child thoughts seperately (so they know you are listening) get both children together for a 'meeting' a quiet sit down time. you will read both sheets of paper (unless one has said they didnt want to share their thoughts on something specific) and make a house rules list. and a consequenses list. (montessori woudl say that if a child spits they have to clean up the mess/floor with a rag. if they rip apart their room they have to clean it up, if they break a lap they have to buy/make a new one.etc... )
you need so seperate them for a few hours every week with one on one time. they have lached onto eachoter which is great! but they also need ot bond with you one on one.
i hope this helps! good luck!
semi crunchy, but getting crispier!
Thanks for the encouragement and ideas. They really don't have any one-on-one time with either of us. It's something I've thought about doing in the past but always gets forgotten about before we actually do it. So I'll give that a try.
As for recharging myself, that's a major issue. I'm totally spent, have been for a while. I'm a big introvert and so I need time to myself to recharge and I need time when I can not be interrupted. That's been a problem all along. Sometimes I think I'm just not cut out to be a mom (and a stay-at-home mom) - to have these two little guys constantly looking to me for everything. But lately it's been worse. They've been waking up an hour earlier in the mornings, so unless I get up an hour earlier (I just can't), I barely get through my shower and they're up when before I had a little breathing room. They don't take naps anymore, so I don't have that time in the afternoon, and they've been fighting and going wild so much that it's a constant battle. I do have a night to myself every week, but I still feel totally spent, nothing more to give and no idea how to get more.
I have three degrees in Early Childhood Education, helped run a special needs foster home for almost 15 years, ran a two year old playgroup and taught in three year old nursery for many years, and none of this experience prepared me for a life of being a mother to twin boys.
I find that my little guys (now 3.5) need a little bit of outside time every day, no matter what, even it's is just a short walk or riding their bikes up and down the sidewalk in front of our house for 15 minutes. It might not be pleasant for them either, but maybe they don't really know any other way to let out that energy. You didn't mention if your boys were in pre-school or a playgroup - maybe a few hours a week in the morning would give you the space you need to recharge. I agree with a PP that you need rules and that they need to be involved in making those rules/concequences. I don't know how verbal your children are, but I find that those conversations are best had over coloring books or playdough. It gives their hands something to do, they are not visually focused on you and they seem more free to say things that might not necesarily come out in a more formal setting.
With regards to them destroying things, box up all their toys except those few that you feel won't hurt anybody and tell them that they have to earn them back by being respectful and trying to control themselves. I find it works great because the next time they are throwing their toys everywhere you just have to ask them if they want them taken away again and the behavior stops (at least in my house :-) ). If they are destroying their room, again, everything comes out except matresses on the floor and they have to earn their furniture back with good behavior. I know that this may seem a harsh thing to do, but it really does work to get them to understand that "things" are earned, not entitled. Maybe you want to set up a point system and for every 15 minutes or half an hour that they don't fight, they each get a sticker and for every 5/10 stickers they get to choose 1 toy from the box of the toys you took away.
Nobody deserves to be talked to disrepectfully, by anybody. Can you explain to them when they are not doing it and when you are not upset that it you are the mommy and they are not to talk to you like that and if they do (you have to come up with some sort of concequence and then follow through).
My MIL once accused me of being a General in the army, but there are two of them and one of me and disobedience is not tollerated. We have very few rules, but those rules that are in place are safety based and are strictly enforced. There is flexibility within firm boundaries, and everybody needs to find the balance that works for their own family.
: wife to James, MoM to R and D (Aug 2007) and E (Nov 2009) and Y (April 2012)