The talk on Redirecting Children’s Behavior techniques for the Gemini Crickets of Multiples Club of Silicon Valley was very successful – we had over 70 parents participating! When Mari, one of the club officers, a mother of a 4 year old & 20 month old twins and my close friend told me the day before that 64 people had registered to attend, I was thrilled but also thought that not everyone would show up. So I was really surprised when 70 copies of handout we had prepared were all gone and there were a few who didn’t get it (I even gave my original). Everyone was fairly easy-going, open-minded and eager to learn. I could feel their anticipation on what I was about to say when I stood in front of them – everyone was looking at me with serious looks on their faces! I must say I was a bit nervous especially at the beginning; I had never given a speech in English to an audience that size. I have been attending Toastmaster’s meeting last 12 months, so I was keenly aware that I was not as relaxed as I should be. About 5 minutes after I had started talking, I decided to move around to loosen up a little bit and started asking some questions to the audience. Once I engaged the audience with questions and we started an exchange of dialogue, the presentation proceeded more comfortably and 2.5 hours flew by quickly. I was exhausted at the end of the meeting, but felt really happy. There were many things that I would like to improve upon, but based on the feedback I received so far, I felt that the key message of the RCB technique was conveyed.
The audience asked a series of great questions. Mari was in charge of taking notes and I’ll post it once we have completed a more detailed summary, but one of the topics was how to effectively set limits. In order to effectively set limits, we should first establish what the rule is, as well as what the consequences will be if and when the rule is broken. One of the unique challenges with twins which came up several times was that being outnumbered by them (in a situation where one parent is alone with twins) could make “following through” part of the setting limits difficult and even unfair at times. Some creativity is required to come up with good consequences. For example, before going to a park, you’d tell your twins “Throwing sand at people is not acceptable. We’ll leave the park if you do”. But what if only one of the twins does it and other one doesn’t? Should you still follow through and leave the park even if it would mean that the other one who did not behave inappropriately has to unjustly suffer as well? If you have already established that leaving the park is the agreed upon consequence, then you should by all means follow through – it is how you set the limit effectively, otherwise kids will learn that the “rules” are just talk and not to be heeded. But “leaving the park” was probably not a very good consequence to choose in the first place, and I’d suggest to come up with something else the next time. Putting the twins in the same boat might be a good idea if they are fighting with each other, but if you make one of the twins take responsibility for the other one’s behavior, chances are you’ll stir some conflict between them, especially the same one tends to be the one who breaks the rules. A better idea for the consequence in this case would be to say “The one who throws the sand at people has to sit with mommy for 10 minutes instead of continue playing”. I would love to hear more ideas and different situations where you feel challenged in setting the limits.
*I am presenting a session on power struggle at “It Takes A Village Conference” at the University of San Diego on Saturday, 10/3. It’ll be the first session offered in Japanese at this conference. I’d appreciate it if you could help spread the words!