Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Connor Milestone, and Other 3 1/2 Year Old Updates

As most of you know, Connor and Merasia have had a slight speech delay that we only discovered earlier this year. Connor's speech was worse then Merasia's, but it has slowly gotten better recently. He still has a long ways to go, but getting tubes in their ears this Friday will make a huge difference. Yesterday though, we had a big milestone in our house.

Merasia had a visit from a professional in our community, to help with her intense temper tantrums, meltdowns, and night terrors. While that lady was visiting, the twins were having fun seeing themselves in her computer webcam and at one point Connor said, "Merasia, Merasia" to get his sister's attention. Granted, it was as clear as that, but that's definitely what he was trying to say. I stopped talking to the lady and dropped what I was doing and asked Connor what he had said, and he said it again. Tears welled in my eyes....ever since he could talk, he has called Merasia his affectionate pet name for her, "Nahny." I have no idea how he came up with to begin with, but he did it one day and it just stuck and everyone knew who he was talking about whenever he said Nahny. Merasia used to call him "Nuhcah" which almost seemed like Connor pronounced backwards. She recently grew out of that earlier this year but up until then, it was so, so sweet to hear them refer to each other with their own made up little pet names. It was yet another example of their special, sweet, tight bond. 

As much as it's a challenge, I am really enjoying this age Connor and Merasia are at right now. I love when they say something new, sing a new song, or do something that I once thought was so far away from them accomplishing. They have been going to daycare 3 days a week for a while now, and it has helped them a ton. They have progressed in counting and learning the alphabet a ton more in the last month or so, and they come home playing new games or singing new songs all the time. The most recent is "Ring Around the Rosie" and "Red Light, Green Light." We were playing outside the other day and the kids were running around while I say and caught up on some reading. Suddenly I directed my attention back to them because I heard them yelling "green light! Red light!" I realized that's what they were playing! It was so cute and so amazing to see them doing yet another thing they learned from daycare. Everyday they come out with something new!

Of course along with all of the good things at this age, there has to be come challenges and the biggest one is discipline and the temper tantrums. At 3 1/2 year old, children are wanting to be more independent and are not shy about asserting that new found independence by any means. They also aren't shy about voicing their opinions no matter what we are doing or where we are. Some of the biggest issues that require discipline lately include hitting, fighting with each other, not sharing toys or other items, and swearing/naughty language. 

I was not prepared for the sibling rivalry to happen so soon! I thought I had at least another 10 years until that kicked in, but it is in full force. They fight over everything. Toys, clothes, food, drinks, cups, even how to play a game or when to talk. Merasia is a very spirited child and makes that known all the time. Sometimes Connor will be trying to sing a song with her, and she will yell at him to stop so she can sing it instead. She always has to be the boss.

The swearing issue has gotten a little worse in the last several weeks. We have always had a really relaxed parenting style. We chose not to shelter our hide our children from the antics and actions of the public. There is only so much you can hide children from, especially in this day and age. So when it came to swearing, though we didn't constantly swear around our kids, if it slipped out, it slipped out and we were okay with that. If we didn't swear at all around them, they would hear it from somewhere else. They hear it from our friends and family, and we aren't going to ask all of them to change who they are and how they talk around our children. Of course some things are completely off limits to say and there is a line to draw, but for the most part, we haven't been too concerned with it. If they didn't hear it from us or family, they hear it on television, on the radio, in the grocery store, all from complete strangers. Of course dealing with the repercussions from that can be challenging, but it's to be expected and we are fine dealing with it. 

Discipline is a big deal at this age. We have done several different things for discipline over the years. Of course time outs are a common, big one. We have also used the "1-2-3 Magic" approach and have seen great progress with that too. One big thing that approach stresses is after a time out or calm down period, you don't tell them why you put them in time out, and don't re hash the issue that put them in time out, because at this age, they don't have the attention span to listen, understand, or even care what you are saying or why they got put there. All they know is they misbehaved or broke the rules, and when that happens, time out happens. This makes complete sense to me, but may not make any sense to other parents. Of course before we do time outs, we try a warning or two to see if they can change their behavior without a time out, which they can most of the time. 

We recently started taking a different approach to discipline for the twins though. It's more of a positive discipline approach. There are several different approaches involved in this, such as Reinvolvement, Calm down time, Encouragement, Active Listening, Consequences, Substitution, Modify the Environment, and Extinction. I will post more about each of these in a separate blog post for anyone who is interested to read and check out for themselves.

One of the most simple, biggest things about disciplining young children is to treat them like real people. I think all too often we, as parents, get caught up in parenting and forget that our children are real people, only shorter and still learning about the world around them. They are just like us, and deserve to be treated just like we would want to be treated, and when we understand that and actually put it into action, we see results.

As much as it's a challenging time as a parent, when I look into these eyes.....

it's well worth it and I wouldn't trade any second.

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