Immediately after your babies come into the world, your only concern is keeping them alive. You make sure they are loved, fed, and clean. Then, once they hit about 2 years old, things get real! Now you are responsible not only for keeping your twins alive but also for teaching them how to be all-around good citizens.
As your twins start to have more interactions with other children, you start to worry about things like whether you are raising a bully or someone who will be bullied. You want to make sure your kids know how to share, take turns, say please and thank you, and show good table manners.
You will need to be patient and consistent as you teach your kids basic manners. And while it might seem like it will be double the work with two children, it can actually be easier than teaching just one child because your twins can practice their manners with each other.
Sharing and Taking Turns
Take every opportunity to teach your twins how to take turns. I worked in lessons during my girls' daily routine—while they were brushing their teeth, getting dressed, and so on. I would say, "It's Jenny's turn to brush and Jessica's turn to wait." It always helps to praise the child who is waiting.
Having your twins take turns during routine activities makes it easier for them to understand the concept of taking turns and sharing when it comes to toys. Notice I said easier, not easy. I have found that, as in most relationships, with twins there is a giver and a taker. For example, one will probably be more willing to give up a toy for the other, while the other will have a harder time giving anything up.
I admit that delivering lessons on sharing or taking turns can be exhausting. Sometimes I had to mentally prepare myself, and I could only do it for 5 to 10 minutes—tops. Be patient and give it time. It will take a while, but eventually you'll be able to relax a little more at play dates.
Saying Please and Thank You
I always encourage the girls to say please, thank you, you're welcome, excuse me, and I'm sorry to each other. It helps develop their manners and at the same time their respect for one another.
I feel like a broken record most of the time, but it's important to be consistent. Nothing is more rewarding than hearing that your children are well-mannered.
Eating together is almost always a losing battle when kids are young. As your twins get older, you can all finally try to sit at the table for a family meal. Be patient. It will take them a while to get used to the "rules" at the table.
Staying at the table was the biggest challenge we faced. It helped to have boosters with seat straps. It also helped to have dinner served and ready when everyone sat down so that there was less time for the kids to get restless. At age 4, the girls are able to sit still much longer. They also love to help set the table; I think it makes them feel grown up.
Eating at the table and learning table manners at home was good practice for those times when we braved taking the family to a restaurant. To keep the kids from getting restless at the table when we ate out, it helped to go someplace where we didn't have to wait long to be served and to be ready to order soon after we sat down. In fact, sometimes my husband would get to the restaurant a little bit earlier and order for us. (Twin Mom Carrie provides even more tips for dining out with twins.)
Whether you eat at home or at a restaurant, be prepared for a mess. Don't stress over it. Eventually, you will all enjoy a good meal together.
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