Q: My twins are beginning kindergarten. My son is very bright. My daughter is almost ready. We chose to have them both start together because we didn't want to separate them in grade level. Do you think twins being in separate grade levels would affect their achievement?
A: I'm guessing that you made the right decision. Of course, each child should have his or her own needs met, but because the child who is "almost ready" is a girl, there's a reasonably good chance that the typical earlier maturity of girls compared with boys will allow her to catch up with her class. If the twins can be in two different kindergartens, it might be preferable so your daughter doesn't find herself struggling much more than her brother.
I do think that holding your daughter back a year because of immaturity might give her the signal that you think she's not smart enough and could thus harm her confidence and achievement. On the other hand, if you had told me that she is far from ready, I would have cautioned you to hold her back because I would've been more concerned about her ability to catch up with her class.
In general, for twins, it's fine to encourage them to do some things that they both enjoy together, but it's also good to foster their independent interests enough so they are comfortable about making separate choices. You will find that twins do compete and argue with each other like all siblings, but they usually also feel close and are good playmates for each other.
Ignoring May Work Best for Sulking Child
Q: My son likes to sulk and pout after discipline. How do I get through to him that it is correction and then we move on with life as normal? Just telling him not to sulk isn't working.
A: Your son's sulking response is not fun, but consider that it's better than his being disrespectful, talking back or arguing continually with you. He's learned that when he sulks, you give him more attention by reminding him not to sulk. No doubt there have been multiple times when you have engaged him in full conversations about why he shouldn't sulk. Of course, that is what you should have done to teach him appropriate behavior, so that was a good thing to do the first one or two times. At this point, he's more than heard your message, so it's best to ignore his sulking and let him learn to change his mood on his own.
You might also want to notice whether you and your spouse sulk when you're disappointed in yourselves. Just in case one of you does, changing adult behavior sometimes helps kids change theirs. Sometimes they copy parents.
The less you talk about sulking behavior the likelier it is to go away. On the other hand, if you can catch him saying "OK, Mom (or Dad), I'll do better next time," be sure to let him know that you notice that he learns from mistakes and has a good attitude. Do understand that most people don't enjoy being corrected, but most of us finally learn to accept a reasonable amount of criticism. Sometimes we can even manage to laugh at our own mistakes. Watching adults handle mistakes with humor can lighten anyone's mood.
Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the author of many books on parenting. More information on raising kids is available at www.sylviarimm.com. Please send questions to: Sylvia B. Rimm on Raising Kids, P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI 53094 or [email protected] To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.