By John Rosemond
Q: My twin 4-year-old boys, who get along wonderfully, share a bedroom.
They go to bed quite cooperatively, but they talk to each other and ask to use the bathroom and keep themselves up for hours. The evening becomes a nightmare for all concerned. Should they be separated, punished, what? My second question is ...
A: Whoa! Stop right there! Let's take one question at a time. After all, I'm 57, and it doesn't take much information to overload the bio-computer these days.
If the boys just talk and use the bathroom, I don't see the problem. Talking and using the bathroom aren't disruptive, so I fail to see how every evening turn into a "nightmare." On the other hand, you may be putting them to bed and then listening vigilantly for them to start talking, then barking at them to stop, then listening, then barking, and so on. Now, that's a nightmare!
But if that's the case, you are the problem, not the boys.
You should relax and just let them talk and use the bathroom until they fell asleep. Just make a rule that they can't come out of their rooms for any reason other than to use the bathroom. Meanwhile, you and your husband should stop being so obsessive and enjoy the privacy. Even if the boys talk themselves awake until midnight for a few nights, if you simply get them up at the same time every morning, it should only take about a week for them to begin falling asleep at an earlier, more "reasonable" time.
OK, the second question?
Q: The boys have no one to play with except one another. I recently signed them up for a "mother's morning out" program that meets three mornings a week. The more outgoing one took to it just fine, but the clingy one never stopped crying until I came back three hours later! The teacher reassured me that the situation would improve, but four weeks have passed and it hasn't improved much at all. Should I just forget this sort of play experience for now?
A: Four-year-olds are generally able to separate fairly easily from their parents. The crying may indicate that the boys — especially your "clingy" one — needs more, rather than less, social opportunity.
It might be good if you found a smaller play group for them, such as a half-day family-home day care situation might provide. Or, call friends or people in your church and have them help you put a small playgroup together. Or, call some of the other moms in the "mother's morning out" program and create a smaller group that meets only once or twice a week, at a different house each time. The group doesn't need to be big, just two or three other children around the same age. You should introduce the boys to each of the other children in the group separately and give them time to get to know one another. Then, introduce them to the group as a whole. Once this hurdle is cleared successfully, ease them back into the larger, more organized group.
John Rosemond is a family psychologist. Reach him at Affirmative Parenting, 1020 East 86th Street, Suite 26B, Indianapolis, IN 46240 and at his Web site, www.rosemond.com.