Teaching twins about body privacy - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-13-2011, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not sure where to post this (and feel weird posting about it at all), but I think overall this has a lot to do with having twins so here goes! Trying not to be too graphic here, and I should say that the topic could be triggering for some people.

My B/G twins are 2y10m and a lot of issues have been coming up about respecting each others and their own private areas on their bodies. I know experimentation is normal and all of it is extremely innocent, but I'm having a hard time getting the concept across to them. Let me give an example I'm ok with putting on the internet...they like to blow raspberries on each others' bellies. This is something we all do with each other when playing and they just love it. Recently this has turned into them pulling their pants down and blowing raspberries on each others' bottoms. I tell them that bottoms and genitalia are all private parts and we don't touch other people's or put our mouths on their bottoms. That's all fine and does stop some of it (they are learning to stand up for themselves and say "Don't touch my bottom!") but what do you do when they are giggling and telling the other one it's ok?!

The hard part is that as twins they're in the same developmental stage, so they're both really focused on stuff like going potty and wiping and bottoms, who has a penis or a vagina, etc etc and they're also really physical right now. I think if they were different ages it might be easier to divide and conquer, but it's coming from both of them. (Maybe I should mention that I take care of them 99% of the time, no daycare or babysitters, so I truly think this is all innocent and natural, nothing suspicious.) I think another factor is that they still are developing their independence from each other and can get confused about them not being the same person sometimes, which is definitely a twin thing.

It is really a challenge right now, and I'd love some input on how to gently teach them boundaries around this stuff. It would be nice to know what other parents are doing and if these things come up in your families, too. If you don't want to post publicly, please send me a PM.

Thanks!
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#2 of 5 Old 07-13-2011, 08:08 PM
 
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Hi, I have had similar experiences with my g/g twins (they will be 4 in October so are a bit older than yours).

 

One thing they did was peering at each others bottoms - shall we say, VERY closely - and giggling ferociously the whole time. This was probably about 6 months ago. They did it a couple of times but I decided to just leave them to it and not comment. To be honest I was worried I would laugh too much and just encourage them! Their giggles are very infectious... Anyway after a few times they lost interest and moved onto something else. I really think the less of a deal you can make about something the better.

 

I agree with you that it is very important to emphasise that certain areas are private and not to be touched without permission. But, as you say, exploration is completely normal at this age, and I felt I really didn't want to make them feel their private areas were dirty or to be ashamed of in any way. So if they are both fine with it I think that is their decision to make.

 

A couple of rules might help with your situation though, ones you could emphasise as safety issues. Such as - bottoms and genitalia can be germy so no mouth contact! Also no putting fingers or anything else in anyone's orifices - whether private ones or others (we have had peas up noses before...). That way you can be firm about the most problematic situations without having to make them feel ashamed about exploring their own and each other's bodies.

 

But seriously beyond basic hygiene issues I think it is something they just have to get through. I don't think either of them will be scarred for life! And it sounds like you are making clear the most important lessons about privacy and respect of other's bodies.

 

Hope that helps...

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#3 of 5 Old 07-14-2011, 04:33 AM
 
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I too have had this issue, not as much as you because they are both boys, but something similar. The boys were 27 months old when Little Pricess was born. They were just starting to toilet train and were very interested in their own anatomy and comparing themselves to each other. Sometimes for the sake of saving time when going to an event we would have "family showers" meaning I would take the boys in with me and wash them and then DH would get in and rinse while I got clothes ready etc. so we could get out the door faster. When they were just about three, one of them noticed an anitomical difference between me and the other boys in the house in a way which only a three year old can "Mommy, girls have wee wees and boys have pee pees." Needless to say that was the last time we took a family shower :-) When they did want to see their sister's netherregions I just said that wasn't modest and we don't do that. We are very big on privacy and modesty around here and it came up especially when they were toilet training. They were very interested in how things work and I actually started locking the door when I went so I wouldn't have two noses poking around trying to see what I was doing. That was an experince :-) When one was on the toilet, I made a big deal about how people need privacy and closed the door and shooed the other one out. They got the message pretty quickly and now when anyone says that he needs privacy everyone respects that. I have one that is very interested in himself and whenever he is not wearing clothes - lets just say he plays. I have decided to leave that and let him get through it and if it becomes more of a problem to say something. At the ages of 4 and 20 months they all still take a bath together and it seems fine. When a problem comes up, we just do the modest/privacy thing and it seems to nip it in the bud, so to speak.


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#4 of 5 Old 07-19-2011, 09:30 AM
 
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my b/g twins are just over 2 and a half now and i emphasise that we keep our bottoms covered. so pants or nappy. and that is our private area. no touching. i don't leave them alone, and redirect if they are doing anything that is encroaching boundaries. i also say mummy wear knickers, daddy wears pants, twin 1 wears pants, twin 2 wears knickers - that kind of thing. give them a reference as to what other family are doing so they know that if someone isn't covering that area (we say unless cleaning ourselves or going to the toilet) then they will know that is out of the ordinary.


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#5 of 5 Old 07-31-2011, 05:13 AM
 
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My twin boys turned 3 ten days ago, so they're pretty close in age to your pair.  I have tended to use their individual reactions & boundaries as important deciding factors.  So when it comes to what do you do if one is giggling & saying it's okay, to me that would be important feedback and it would help me organize my own reactions, and separate what is an issue for me versus what is part of the actual present moment.  (This is necessary for me in lots of areas while parenting, including this one.)  So being present with myself (mindful presence, an "Observer Self" that can see my reactions & notice my thoughts about them & all the resulting feelings) is an important piece, not just the question of "what I do when...." or "what I do to stop them from...."

 

So in that situation (giggling receptivity) I most likely would wait & watch.  If I had concern specific to the situation (I am considering your example as one out of MANY scenarios, not the main/only situation, so I am not really focusing on the mouth/bottom contact as the main issue, you know?), then I would voice it.  So I wouldn't rely only on their signals for whether or not to speak up about a separate concern (such as hygiene/germ transmission, as mentioned by a pp) but I try not to be pre-emptive about that kind of thing, either.  Or simply just to be really aware of what is fueling my impulse.

 

In my experience, emotion-fueled (usually fear-motivated, for me) attempts to stop or redirect behavior tends to trigger counter-resistance in the child, because of my initial resistance.  Connecting to myself & then to them/their experience is something that comes first when things work well.  This is why connecting to the actual present moment & to what is real for the children involved (connecting to their validity) is so helpful, whether the behavior is problematic or whether you ultimately discover that it's not actually a problem.  Otherwise, defensive responses get triggered as the child reacts to the negation they experience with our resistance or our attempt to stop behaviors.

 

In the end, I think my main practice is to support them in noticing & respecting each other's "messages" about personal space and boundaries.  I did go through some personal discomfort or anxiety, mostly due to "What if?" kinds of questions internally that triggered an impulse to stop or squelch the behavior at a very early stage (and I certainly wasn't aware of any "What if" questions until I really was willing to tolerate my discomfort & explore it; the only thing I experienced consciously was an impulse to stop, distract from, redirect.)

 

We haven't really had an issue with the behavior developing into a problem or really even persisting.  Most of their interactions around genital curiosity tend to be verbal, now.  (Statements about the other twin's penis and various parts, rather than touching or pulling.)  They were quite a bit younger when the potentially more "intrusive" stuff was going on (and triggered my uncertainty, discomfort, concern, & fear), and they aren't doing a lot of exploring or touching at their current age, is what I am saying.

 

I don't know if this is because I didn't initially set up a control dynamic or not.  I do know that when I've felt that is the case about something (that injecting control or struggle or resistance ultimately reinforced certain patterns of behavior) that it is helpful to view the behavior as a signal (perhaps a signal of what is out of whack, a problem with control) rather than as the problem itself, and to address the underlying issue.  What I mean is that problems don't have to STAY problems, and can self-correct in ways similar to there never having been a problem, even if it's an "Oops, I wish I'd responded differently, NOW look what's happening" situation.

 

Obviously, this is all personal stuff related to me.  I share it because it's a definite part of my process, and it has been true for me, but it may not be relevant to you & I don't intend to suggest that I assume that it is!

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