You know it's the nineties when you show up for your co-op orientation to discover that there are three sets of twins enrolled in a class of 18. That is the case this year at Crown Hill Pre-3s. Statistically speaking, 33 percent of our class are twins! At one time this would have been highly unusual.
In the Sept. 15 issue of “The Seattle P-I,” I read that “the number of babies arriving in twins, triplets and more has increased markedly in the last two decades, as fertility drugs soar in popularity and women wait longer to have children. Overall, the increase in multiple births between 1980 and 1997 is unprecedented. The number of twins born jumped 52 percent to more than 104 thousand babies born in 1997.”
As we enter the new millennium, we can all expect to find more and more multiples in our children's classes. As a mother of twins, I can tell you that there is no single issue parents of multiples agonize over more than the decision of whether to keep twins in the same class or to separate them. There is enough literature published on this subject to fill a library. When it comes down to it, however, the decision usually is made- like most parenting decisions-on gut-feeling.
After researching this topic, my husband, Chris, and I have made the decision to keep our identical twins, Rachel and Victoria, in the same class until they are able to make their own decision. Although we feel this is the right choice, we are concerned about the development of each child's individual identity.
Rachel and Victoria look identical, while their personalities couldn't be more different. I can still remember when I asked Chris to change Rachel's diaper, and he responded, “Which one is Rachel?” We instituted a color-coded dressing system which worked until the advent of 2-year-olds who want to dress themselves. (Sorry Chris - figure it out on your own!)
Identical or not, the individuality issue is a big one for twins. Like all children, twins need individual attention and recognition to thrive. There is a tendency to lump them together as a single entity. I recently overheard the 5-year-old friend of my older daughter say to Rachel and Victoria, “Twins! It's your turn to wear the Ariel dress.” I had to bite my tongue.
Since one of the goals of co-op preschool is to strengthen
families by providing a supportive network, I thought a few tips on interacting
with twins might be helpful.
There is nothing more magical for children than a puppet show.
The Northwest Puppet Center's presentation of Mozart's “The Magic Flute,”
earlier this year, was an experience my 2-year-old has not stopped talking
This is not for boisterous children-as talkers are “shushed” by the puppet center staff-but once the show begins, most kids are so absorbed they forget to chatter.
Topping the 1999-2000 line-up is a Chinese work, “The Strings of Wonder,”
opening Oct. 1.
“The Nutcracker,” with ballet-dancing puppets, begins Nov. 2.
Other performances are scheduled through May.
For more information call (206) 523-2579.
I knew they had given me the wrong child. This fat, red-faced, tawny-hair-sticking-straight-up, blue bundle in no way resembled my precious first-born who had been a heart-shaped, olive skinned, curly-haired, pink baby doll. This was just the beginning of my realization that children really are, in fact, “different.” I asked the nurse, “Are you sure he's mine?” She smiled knowingly.
The physical differences, while most obvious, were not the only way my children differed. My daughter was an active baby. She cried at everything and slept at nothing. At 27, many things still distract her, and she is quite intense with a high activity level. My son, on the other hand, at 2 months could sleep anywhere, anytime, any place; his favorite napping spot was the gymnasium during noisy basketball games. He was a very easygoing, adaptable child, and a simple look or word would set him on the correct path. My daughter, however, loved engaging us in the battle of wills and, at the tender age of 2 ½ , once refused to pick up her toys for more than an hour.
A temperament comes with every baby and grows with each
child. According to “Johnson & Johnson Guide to Pregnancy and
Early Parenthood,” “Babies have one of three basic temperaments:
easy, reserved, or high need.”
Reserved-These babies need more time to adapt to new situations. They generally have a lower activity level and may be less animated and less adaptable than the easy baby. Consistent reassurance is vital for these babies. Parents of these children often find themselves urging their children to interact with others and things in the environment.
High-need-These babies frequently have irregular sleeping and
eating patterns. They react negatively to changes in their environment
and are not shy about demonstrating their displeasure or discomfort.
They react strongly and loudly by crying or by laughing intensely.
Only 10 percent of all infants are considered high-need. You can
often recognize their parents by blood-shot eyes or weary looks.
Most experts believe that, between 1 and 4 months, a baby's personality begins to emerge. By age 2, parents are usually well aware of their child's innate preferences. Perhaps that's why we call this age, the “terrible twos.” We start to realize that this child is not a miniaturized version of us, but rather a tiny- yet complicated-little person complete with his own set of needs and demands.
While we can't change the physiology of our children, we can change the manner in which we care for and teach them. Our parenting styles certainly can impact a baby's disposition and development. Our reactions to behavior and temperament have a tremendous influence on developing children's personalities. According to Teglasi, children's temperament is shaped through several means.
On the average, children share 50 percent of their genetic makeup with each of their parents who provide environments which support that makeup. Children's behavioral styles elicit responses from others that in turn either enhance or diminish specific behaviors. Children actively seek environments that are in harmony with their predispositions.
Dr. James Herzog says, “A baby's innate traits are likely to be strengthened when there's a good temperamental match between himself and his parents-that is, when all have more or less the same levels of physical activity, sensitivity, happiness and sociability. This is a perfect example of the way nature and nurture are intricately interwoven in human development.”
Understanding a child's temperament, supporting his individuality, and helping him deal with the world beyond the family are critical aspects of a parent's job. At times this means pushing or encouraging the child to try new things and at other times it means pulling or limiting the number of choices depending on the unique temperament of the child. Teaching toddlers to adapt to the world around them, while respecting the integrity of their innate abilities, is like walking a parenting tightrope.
There are several qualities to be considered when examining
temperament. Most of these differ along a continuum from low to high
based upon various indicators.
Baby expert and nurse Helen F. Neville says “there is no such thing as a good or bad temperament. Babies thrive with 'Goodness of Fit'-a reasonable match between their temperament and their environment.” Most behavior problems occur when the environment and temperament are incongruent.
Try to discover your child's temperament and then develop strategies that work with your child's temperamental strengths rather than against them.
Child expert Jan Krisatal says many behavior patterns are connected with the previously mentioned traits. “High activity, slow adaptability, high intensity, low frustration tolerance or low persistence” create the most difficult behavior problems.
Learn about your own temperament and your child's and then delight in the similarities as well as the differences. Good parents generally tailor their parenting style to their child's temperament. Understanding and appreciating your child's temperament and unique personality can enlighten you as you discover alternative routes to parenting success.
Sources and resources:
Don't miss the first lecture in PAC's parenting lecture series, featuring national speaker, Roslyn Duffy, on the topic, "Weaving Hearts Together: Connecting As A Family." Duffy will speak about what parents can do to help children “connect” and feel a sense of belonging within their family. She will also discuss the importance of family meetings to establish intimacy and belonging, as well as how to set up family meetings.
This lecture will be held Thursday, Oct. 21, from 7-8:30 p.m., in room LB-1141 at North Seattle Community College. Admission and parking on campus (except for the parking garage) is free for this event.
Duffy has an extensive background as a preschool development specialist, teacher, parent educator and counselor. She is also co-founder and director of a Seattle Montessori child care center. Duffy has co-authored several books including “Positive Discipline for Preschoolers” and “Parent Report Card.” Her articles appear in national publications and she writes a monthly Q-and-A column for “The Child Care Information Exchange” magazine.
For further information or directions, contact the North
Seattle Community College Child and Family Education Division at 527-3783.
Have a Safe and Fun Halloween!
In the September issue, we ran part one of Deborah Woolley Lindsay's article, “Dealing With 'Misbehavior' at Co-op.” Part two was to appear in this issue, but has been delayed. Please look for it in the future. Sorry for any inconvenience.
Tom Hobson 723-1097
Mandy Lantry 706-5702
Lauren Gaylord 547-1134
Linda Shaw 789-1175
Parent Education Program College Office 527-3783
Web Site: nsccux.sccd.ctc.edu/~parented
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