Author: Hannah Trenowden, Grow Shine Succeed
Being a parent to multiples can be so all-consuming that we sometimes end up in survival mode. Just making sure everyone is fed, sleeping and let’s be honest- alive- is enough work in itself.
Now that my twins are toddlers, I’ve been exploring ways to encourage their independence and confidence as much as I did with my older singleton daughters.
Self Determination Theory tells us that humans flourish when their psychological needs of autonomy, competence and connection are met. Let’s see how this theory underpins my tips for raising multiples to be independent and confident.
Let them try
This is probably the hardest for me in the moment but the only way for a child to become competent is practice. So as much as it slows everyone down at times- wherever possible allow your children to try doing things themselves. Some of our current examples include putting honey on their cereal, doing up their pram buckle and taking all their clothes off (much to my surprise)!
This one has come to light for me more with my twins than with my daughters. And to be frank my organisational habits are more for me to function as a working mum of four than for the children themselves. That said I’ve noticed that knowing exactly where things go has really helped the twins develop their independence.
For example we have a drawer in the lounge room with nappies, wipes and a set of clothes for quick changes. I can ask the twins to get their clothes from here or put the wipes away. It’s hit and miss whether they cooperate. But the fact is that just knowing where things belong helps all my children to develop their independence.
Having high expectations is a great way of raising multiples to be independent
This leads to my next tip- high expectations. My family often give me sideways glances when I ask my two year olds to “put the wrapper in the bin” or “grab Mummy the pen from the table”. But I strongly believe that only by setting the bar high and asking do we find out what they are capable of.
When one of my boys helps, in this moment we are meeting all three of the psychological needs outlined by the Self Determination Theory. He feels connection to us, competence because he can achieve the task and control because he did it himself.
I guess the best way to explain what I mean by freedom, is to share a story. On Saturdays when one of my daughters is at Karate I take the other three for their baby chinos, hot chocolate and most importantly- I get my caffeine fix. It’s a running joke with the cafe how much mess my twins make. Its a good thing I’m a regular customer and they are understanding.
Anyway, back to the story. Just recently one of the twins started wandering off during our cafe treat- thankfully it’s a safe space to do so. I watched him closely. I was tempted to stop him but also very curious to see what he was up to. Low and behold he was taking his finished baby chino cup and putting it in the bin. Hurrah for my independent little two year old putting his own rubbish in the bin without even being asked.
Teach, teach, teach and teach again helps in raising multiples to be independent
The common thread for growing independent and confident little people is to be willing, patient and supportive when teaching them. They will work out a lot from watching the rest of the family. However, explicit teaching allows the opportunity for connection and positive reinforcement. Whether it is teaching how to press the bin pedal with their little feet (and not push the bin lid down at the same time) which we are working on at the moment, or how to flush and wash hands after using the potty.
Whatever it is- teaching in a supportive and loving way (fully aware that you are likely to need to teach and teach again and again, even when they are much older) is key for raising independent and confident children.
Twin Mum and Founder of Grow Shine Succeed
At Grow Shine Succeed, our goal is to be a resource supporting parents and teachers to help children thrive in their home, school and beyond.