Stop here every day for a new question and answer, practical help for busy parents.
What do I do if my twins panic when they’re separated? The 4-year-olds just started day care, and the teacher puts them in separate rooms. Then they cry and scream until reunited. The teacher tries this every day. Is such separation necessary, and how do I make them comfortable away from each other?
The answer to this question requires the asking of another one. Is the day-care teacher doing this on her own? Many educational institutions have a policy of separating twins, although parents generally have the final say.
In general, closeness in siblings should be nurtured, not discouraged. Twins often have closer relationships than is common among other siblings, and that is not a bad thing. That said, eventually they will have to function on their own, so separation is both healthy and inevitable.
However, there is no commonly accepted time for such separation. Some twins start acting more like individuals very young, while others enjoy being two of a kind even as late as high school.
If your 4-year-olds are uncomfortable being separated, there is no need to separate them yet. The time for such a move will come – and the children will often give you cues to let you know when to take action. The transition to individuality is not always smooth, but it occurs. And unless you start seeing signs of unhealthiness in their attachment – such as an insistence on always being in the same room even at home, a refusal to do anything on their own, or separation anxiety exhibited in even a familiar place like at home or a relative’s house – don’t push it.
For additional information on this topic, check out Twin Services Consulting. They offer a number of free articles you might find useful, and I’ll end this answer by quoting from one of them:
“There is often confusion made between the physical separation of twins and their development of individual identity and independence. This confusion promotes the placement of twins in separate classrooms as the ‘best’ way to encourage the individuation process for all twins.
“In reality each set of twins and triplets have their own unique dynamics and developmental time tables. Placement in separate classrooms does not fit the needs of all twins any more than does placement together. What is true for all multiples is that their classroom placement has an important effect on their relationship and their lives. In order for these effects to be positive, their placement needs to be evaluated every year so that it can be adjusted as necessary to meet the changing needs of the children.”
Should I take away recreational books as a punishment? When I ground my children for grades, I also take away all their books except for textbooks, a Bible, and a dictionary. I do this to reduce distractions so they’ll have more time to study, and also because both of them enjoy reading, so taking away fun books is a good punishment. If they’re allowed to read books they enjoy, they won’t learn their lesson.
The knee-jerk answer is no, you shouldn’t take away the books. But context is everything.
Discipline is a process, and every child requires a different approach. My oldest son loves to read. Given a choice of playing baseball, watching TV, or reading on a nice summer day, he’ll generally choose the book and read for hours. Sometimes he’ll read rather than do his chores or homework, which can be a problem.
On occasion, we have taken away his pleasure-reading books as a punishment, allowing him to earn them back through changes in behavior.
Is taking away recreational books a suitable punishment for every child? Definitely not. Is it suitable for most children? Probably not. Is it suitable for children who love to read so much that it interferes with their schoolwork? Yes. Just don’t overdo it. Remember, a lot of parents wish they had a child who loves to read. Any punishment that takes away pleasure books should be temporary, and should allow the child to earn the books back.
Thank you for reading today’s Q&A. Check back here tomorrow for another installment of the Ask The Dad advice column. If you’d like to submit an Ask The Dad question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you liked today’s column, click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page to receive e-mail whenever a new column is posted. Don’t worry, it’s free.