have boy/girl twins that just turned 2 and they don't listen at all. No means "yes" to them, and they seem to think that they can always get what they want.
Overall, they are just monsters! I need advice on how to have calmer, more well-behaved children. They ALWAYS do the opposite of what I ask and they have no
patience. They also back talk, throw everything, hit everyone including our pets. I am
a young mom—I'm 22—and I just want to be able to take my kids with me
places and not be embarrassed by their behavior. Please help!!
Dear Ms. Creek,
Lady—you need help. And also, I feel you. We all do.
Meanwhile, I imagine that your friends try to make you feel
better by suggesting this is a stage, and your babies are just in the midst of "The Terrible Twos."
I used to tell myself that when my daughter was a toddler
who made sport out of defying me. I was
terrified to discipline her and risk one of her epic meltdowns (and really,
they were all epic) and losing her favor. That is, until I discovered that
there’s no such thing as "The Terrible Twos" in France. Can you
believe that? C’est vrai. After this
revelation I told my little daughter that, for a while, we were going to
pretend like we lived in France. She was
utterly confused, but I was determined. And this is when I truly embraced my inner Chief.
“I am the Chief.” Repeat that over and over. Seriously, say it out loud so that your kids hear you. I think you all could use a little convincing.
Of course, this isn’t France, so you may not want to completely
exorcize that mischievous glint from the eyes of your twins. That fire may lead
one of them to invent the next Google. Or Quora. Hipmunk? (That’s a real name,
by the way.) Also, there has got to be something to the madness of 2-year-olds, just maybe not to the extent that we let them get away with here on
American soil. Two-year-olds—and, sorry to report, 3-year-olds—are a special breed of maniac.
In any event, I do know that you can transform those
monsters into minxes (I think that’s better) with a little backbone.
As for the back talk, throwing and hitting—these things cannot be tolerated.
First, however, start with your surroundings. You’ve expressed a desperate desire for
“calmer” children, and this may be helped by mellowing their environment. I discovered that when I relaxed things at
home (not talking about my inner Chief, mind
you), like our after-school schedule, my daughter relaxed. I thought that by keeping her busy and
stimulated, she’d have a better chance of being sufficiently satisfied and
sleepy at the end of the day. In
retrospect, I think I was stringing her out. It took awhile, but by weaning her of all the constant entertainment,
she developed a calmer pace. For a kid who’d grown accustomed to me heeding to her every
squeak with an exciting suggestion, this took some work.
As for the back talk, throwing and hitting—these things
cannot be tolerated. I was so surprised
at how much my kids responded when I said, “I am the Chief, and I say you cannot do that.” None of us realized I had it in me. When they persisted with questionable behavior, there had to be
consequences. No waffling. Anything projectile (unauthorized) would be
taken away and my girl would be
placed in her room. I even dispensed
with the warnings. She soon understood,
no doubt because I oft repeated it to her, calmly but firmly, that a child who
throws things cannot be around other people. Same goes for kids who are whiney, rude and violent. It’s fantastic.
Soon enough (not immediately—I’ve not forgotten that your
twins just turned 2), you will have kids whom you can take everywhere. I promise you that it gets easier. In France, age 7 is known as the Age of
Reason. It sounds a long way off, but it
happens really, disturbingly fast. This
past weekend we had a dinner party, and my 6-year-old really wanted to stay
up and eat with the adults. As is now
the law in our house, I granted her permission if she could be cool. Dinner
wasn't served until 8:30 p.m., and it was a slab of fish with a side salad at
that. I had to pinch myself when I
realized that my daughter was sitting, eating, not complaining. She’s not even at that magic age of 7, yet
she decided that, after the fish (the fish!) she was tired and would go to bed ... before dessert.