Many parents assume that “discipline” refers to ways to carry out effective punishment. However, teaching discipline really means teaching self-control. In most cases, you will find that you have 3 choices when confronted with a particular behavior in your child: you can praise the behavior, deliberately ignore it, or punish your child for it. Of course, it is not always easy to decide whether a behavior deserves to be ignored or punished, and it is not always obvious when and how to provide praise.
Many parents using behavior therapy techniques rely on the following simple rules when interacting with their children:
- If you want to see a behavior continue, praise it.
- If you do not like a behavior but it is not dangerous or intolerable, ignore it.
- If you have to stop a behavior that is dangerous or intolerable (for instance, your child hitting a sibling to hurt her, not just to get your attention), punish it.
Consider how much more powerful and, in most cases, preferable positive reinforcement and ignoring are to punishment, even though in the heat of the moment this may go against your instincts or intuition. It may help to think about how much more likely you are to work hard when your supervisor at work recognizes and praises your efforts, and how poorly motivated and resentful you may feel if she frequently criticizes you. In the same way, your child is more likely to respond positively to your actions if you react positively to her, while a negative comment or response on your part is likely to lead to more negative behavior.
Giving Clear Commands
The first step in helping your child learn to follow rules, obey your commands, and otherwise manage her own behavior is to make sure that the commands you give her are clear. Adults are often accustomed to couching their commands in a variety of “softening” or ambiguous gestures and phrases. Many of us also tend to react too strongly or impulsively to behavior we consider unacceptable.
Establish good eye contact. You must fully engage your child’s attention by making good eye contact if she is going to hear and follow what you say. At first, you may find it helpful to touch a younger child’s arm or hold her hand before addressing her.
Clearly state the command. You can make commands clear to your child by first stating what behavior therapists call a terminating command—a simple, non-emotional statement of what you want your child to do (“You need to stop pushing your brother.”). If the behavior does not stop immediately, you can then follow up with a warning that includes the exact limit and the consequences (“If you push your brother one more time, you’ll be in time-out. If you stop immediately, the two of you can go on playing.”). When stating a command, keep your tone of voice firm and neutral. Refrain from yelling, or looking or sounding angry. It is especially important to monitor your body language because these nonverbal messages are so easy for parents to overlook. State the command as an instruction, not as a question (Not, “Would you please stop teasing your brother?” or “Stop teasing him, OK?” but “You need to stop teasing your brother.”).
If you are not sure your child heard the terminating command or warning, ask her to repeat it back to you. Then pay attention to whether she carries out your instructions and respond immediately to her behavior. If she responds as you have asked, respond positively with praise, thanks, a thumbs-up, a high five, or other acknowledgment that she has done well. If her response is not exactly what you had hoped for but is in the right direction, offer her immediate praise for the part of your command that she did carry out. If your child does not start to respond according to the limits you have set (“one more time” or “within the next two minutes”) invoke the consequences that you have already set, calmly narrating what is happening as you do so (“You did not stop pushing your brother, so you’ll have the five-minute time-out that we just talked about.”) Keep in mind that because you have given a warning and a terminating command and spelled out the consequences for complying or disobeying, if she does not follow your instructions you have not “put her in” the time-out—she has “chosen” the time-out for herself as an alternative to following your command. This is a key point. If you give your child a command, she doesn’t comply, and you immediately “put her” in time-out, you have skipped the step of her choosing whether to receive the positive or negative consequence. You have lost an opportunity to teach her self-control.
If you make a point of following through on the positive or negative consequences of each command, every time, you should soon find that you will not have to repeat your instructions over and over as you probably did before. Your ultimate goal will be to give a command only once for it to be obeyed. Parents often complain, “I have to say it eight times before she does it.” Children are thinking, “The first seven times are free! Then she gets angry and I finally have to do it.” Keep in mind that if you are going to try to follow up on each command you give, you will need to consider beforehand how important the command you are about to give is. Limiting the number of commands you give will make it easier for you to follow up on each and every one, thus increasing your chances of success.
Researchers at England’s University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine, launched a study to build on other research into how the physical activity of mothers and their kids are connected.
Parents seem to affect their kids’ physical activities in three ways — by acting as role models, by helping kids be active (by taking them to the park, for instance), and by being active with them. “All three aspects are thought to be important,” Esther van Sluijs, group leader, said, “but it has generally been unclear how directly mother and child’s physical activity are related.”
In the study, the researchers used devices called accelerometers to track 554 children, all 4 years old, and their mothers for as many as seven days. “The more activity a mother did, the more active her child,” van Sluijs noted.
Specifically, for every single minute of moderate-to-vigorous activity that the mother did, her child was more likely to do 10 percent more of a similar level of activity. Those extra minutes add up over time, according to researchers.
“If activity in mothers and children can be encouraged or incorporated into daily activities so that more time is spent moving, activity levels are likely to increase in both,” van Sluijs said. “In return, this is likely to have long-term health benefits for both.”
Another expert focused on the issue of fathers and what role they might play.
“This is a big question not addressed here,” said Leann Birch, a professor at the University of Georgia’s department of foods and nutrition who studies children and obesity. But, she said, research on parenting suggests that fathers tend to engage in more rough-and-tumble and high-action play with kids than mothers.
Also, she said, “some of our own work showed that reported activity by dads was more important than by moms in predicting the activity of daughters, especially in organized sports during later childhood.”
Adapted from an article in Medline Plus.
Going out of the house with multiples? Considering doing this? Read how Amber manages to get out of the house with her quadruplets.
When all four of our babies were finally discharged from the NICU, I wondered when and if we would ever take them all out anywhere. They were so fragile that fears of returning to the NICU were painfully apparent, and hard to shake. As the babies grew and thrived, we began itching to take them places. Part of the fun of having a new baby is taking them out to explore the world, right? Aside from adventures, there’s always the reality of what must be accomplished outside the home, say grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments to name a few. Continue reading Getting Out With Toddler Multiples
Because it’s National Infant Immunization Week, we thought we’d share some tips from one of our members, the mother of 4 boys, including triplets.
In this article she provides a very detailed checklist of coping strategies to help young children handle the pain and fear associated with immunizations and other shots. You can gain a repertoire of techniques from dealing with the anticipation, distraction exercises, and even how to handle the aftermath.
We hope you find this and the other resources below helpful!
10 Steps to Face the Tears & Fears Associated with Immunizations
Study on Pain Reduction During Immunizations
Immunization Schedules from the CDC
Jeanette, mom of triplets, shares her experience of having all three children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. She shares her emotions and coping through those first few years.
My husband Chris and I were lucky enough to have relatively healthy 30 week triplets Rachel, Kirsten, and Dylan. We went through the “normal” preemie problems, and thought that we were home free when they reached 1 year of age hitting most of their developmental milestones. Little did we know what we were in for! Continue reading Coping with a Diagnoses-Our Story
Thanks Rachelle Wilkinson for sharing this cute blog post. Orginally published on Wilkinson Quints + 2. Ah, memories…..
With my mother-in-law here this week, we decided to be adventurous and give the babies their first bath in the big tub. It was quite a workout getting everyone undressed, weighed, bathed and dressed again—all while trying to prevent drowning and other life-threatening activities. The babies had a blast, and in the end, so did we!
Continue reading Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Five Babies in a Tub
What a great day…perfect weather! A record number of families were able to attend and it was fun for everyone.
It was wonderful to see everyone and to chat and visit.
Continue reading So much fun: MOST Wonderful Family Carnival June 2013
A compilation of tips from 20 years of advice from MOST families
Edited by Lauretta Shokler of TX, Mother to 2 singletons and triplets. Here are some tips, signs of readiness, and words of support from other HOM families.
Introduction: How do I potty train multiples? This common question for parents of triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, and more is often asked with trepidation, desperation, or sometimes, just plain fear. While the process varies for each family, the first and most important facts to remember are 1) you are not alone and 2) it can be done without losing your mind. Continue reading Tricks of the Trade: Potty Training Multiples
With Daylight Savings Time beginning again, we thought we’d ask MOST advisor Kelly Ross, MD, for some tips to get your children on the right track.*
Studies show that getting enough sleep reduces childhood injuries and obesity and improves school performance and social success. How much sleep do kids need? Use the chart below as a guide and follow the tips below.
||Hours of Sleep Needed
|1-4 Weeks Old
||15 – 16
|1-12 Months Old
||14 – 15
|1-3 Years Old
||12 – 14
|3-6 Years Old
||10 – 12
|7-12 Years Old
||10 – 11
|12-18 Years Old
||8 – 9
1. Make a Bedtime Routine: Try the 4B’s: bath, book, breast/bottle, bed. Repeat nightly (or as much as possible) so your children’s minds and bodies can slow down and transition to sleep. Older kids can read in bed by themselves, or you can read aloud to them.
2. White Noise: Having a white noise machine or fan to create a sound barrier helps children fall asleep and stay asleep. Avoid a TV or radio because they keep the brain alert and lead to poor sleep.
3. Nighttime Tool Kit: Keeping kids in bed is important for sleeping! Children over age 3 can have a box of tissues, a flashlight that turns off when the handle is no longer squeezed, and a cup of water. This allows them to take care of their needs before falling asleep, or if they wake during the night, without getting out of bed to find you.
4. Limit Late Night Activities: Extracurricular activities that end around bedtime can derail good sleep habits. Advocate for activity times that end early enough to allow children sufficient time to transition to sleep.
*Adapted from Dr. Ross’s November 2012 article on ChildrensMD.org.
Are you a parent of multiples that are 3 or older?
Many multiples families struggle with the school and/or class placement of their children. Every spring, the questions start popping up, “Should we home school, send to private school, or send to public school?” “Should I put the children in the same class or separate classes?” “How do you handle the logistics of school, homework, conferences, etc.?” There is little current research on multiples in educational journals.
Lisa Share, PhD, is a full time faculty member at Walden University and a mother of triplets. She created a survey for MOST, approved by Walden University, to ask families the questions most frequently asked. She plans to share the research with multiple birth organizations. If you have multiples that are three and older who either attend school or are educated at home, please complete this survey on Survey Monkey. It will take no more than ten minutes and will help many other families who ask the same questions.
If you would share this link with any of your multiples friends or local multiples’ groups, that would be great. She would love to learn and share as much information as possible. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.
The survey is open through October 2013.
Thanks for participating!
As 2012 draws to a close, we’re thinking about new chapters and new years. Maybe you’ve just joined the MOST family. Maybe you’re knee-deep in school issues. Maybe you are sending your children onto the next chapter of their lives, whether it be college, the military, or the working world.
For many multiples, it is the first time they will not see each other every day.
We asked some of our multiples “veterans” and their parents to tell us how they feel about being a multiple now that they’re older. Read their comments and celebrate MOST’s new chapter (25 years of service!) with a birthday gift.
There is much to do after experiencing a flood, fire, tornado or hurricane. It may feel overwhelming. Here are some practical tips from families that have experienced a disaster to help you get back on your (many) feet!
After taking care of your immediate needs: medical care, shelter, food and water it is time to look at recovery. How will you rebound? Continue reading Rebounding from a Disaster
Whether your children are babies or grown, many parents ask “Does parenting multiples ever get easier?” Maureen A. Doolan Boyle, MOST Executive Director, gives her thoughts to this often asked question.
Continue reading Does Parenting Multiples Ever Get Easier?
Evie is finally ready to come home!
Evienne, an identical triplet, was born in April 2009 and is finally coming home from the hospital. What a great 3rd birthday gift! However, among her many needs the family will now require a custom van. With an extended van, the family can have it adapted to allow Evienne to finally be with her sisters! Can you help?
Continue reading At 3-yrs-old: Evienne if finally coming home but she needs a van!