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COURSES: SUMMER 2011

Parenting Seminar

“Using Emotional Intelligence to Raise Compassionate and Resilient Children”

Sunday, June 12

12:30–5:30 p.m.

ADMISSION

$50 General

$40 Skirball Members

$30 Full-Time Students


ABOUT THE PROGRAM

In this seminar, participants learn to help their children become emotionally intelligent and find ways to express their feelings authentically and appropriately.

Through a keynote presentation and multiple workshops, participants will learn how to use Mindsight with their children to help them discover their feelings as a source of strength.

Techniques for cultivating resilience and well-being will be explored. The seminar will also enable parents and caregivers to strengthen bonds with children, leading to stronger families and communities.

Designed for parents, expectant parents, mental health care practitioners, and teachers, the program includes the keynote lecture and two ninety-minute workshops, Session A and Session B.

Dr. Joan A. Friedman will be offering a worshop during Session B, from 4:00pm till 5:30pm.


Raising Emotionally Healthy Twins

Facilitator: Joan Friedman, PhD, author of Emotionally Healthy Twins

Drawing on her experience as a twin, the mother of twins, and a psychotherapist specializing in twins, Dr. Friedman outlines seven key concepts for helping twins develop into self-realized, resilient individuals. Her current research about adult twin development will enhance parental awareness about twins’ ongoing emotional growth.



   

I was speaking with a mom of twin toddlers the other day that was lamenting the fact that her girls were no longer content playing by themselves.  They both want mom at the same time now and are bent on outdoing the competition.  Mom used to be able to placate one while she handled the other.  Unfortunately, now the stakes have changed.  If she is sitting with one on her lap, the other comes and rests her head “assertively” on mom’s knee, making it very clear that she is not pleased about her sister’s “top billing”.

I reminded mom that developmental stages just happen.  Often we are so preoccupied with the everyday hustle and bustle that we don’t necessarily recognize the shifts and changes until we find ourselves right smack in the middle of them.  Parents of adolescents bemoan the fact that it felt as if their beatific son or daughter turned into a surly adolescent over night!  Something similar occurs with toddlers.  Their invigorated sense of self and new felt autonomy changes the rules of the game.  Parents need to understand the game beforehand so that they can be aware of the winning strategies.  This does not mean, of course, that you will win by entering into a battle of wills.  To the contrary, the emotional strategies that help you understand and communicate with your child will help to socialize and protect your forward moving toddler to feel masterful in a secure and predictable world. In addition, there is the challenge of learning how to evaluate which battles are worth fighting.  Aside from issues of health and safety, many first time parents understandably struggle with figuring out what is important for their children within the framework of their family, the community, and their culture.

Dr. Jenn Berman has a wonderful new book called Super Baby.  It is available for early order on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.  Her chapters that describe how to handle an out of sorts toddler are excellent because they help parents understand a toddler’s emotional and physical struggles from the toddler’s age appropriate developmental level.  Dr. Berman gives lovely examples about how to talk to toddlers, how to give them choices, how to set effective limits, and “how to say no without saying no”. She explains why parental predictability and consistency is key to a toddler’s healthy emotional maturation.

Parents of twin toddlers face additional challenges. Often they are required to make a decision that benefits one twin and makes it difficult for the other.  Some expectations must be the same for both children in order for the parents to model consistent, clear, and unwavering behavior about specific limits and rules. For example, one mother told me that she had to take away the bottle from one twin because the other refused to use her Sippy cup when she saw her sister with the bottle.  Another mom told me that she had to enforce the same rules for both of her sons about using the pacifier in order to quell the protests of inequality.  It takes tremendous courage for parents of twins to make decisions that do not necessarily reflect the individual needs and wishes of both children.  Usually parents of singletons are not so vigorously or repetitively challenged by their children about “unfair practices”. 

While I believe that parenting the first time around involves a big learning curve for most couples, the additional commotion and complications of two at a time poses an extra challenge that is exhausting and depleting.  The good news is that this stage does not last forever.  In fact, these little dynamos turn into loving preschoolers who remind us about the infinite wonders of life all around us that we often take for granted.



Everything You Want to Know About TWINS!!!
This event is a wonderful opportunity to learn about twins from an emotional, sociological and biological perspective.
If you still have unanswered questions, feel free to visit me at my book signing after the panel discussion.
Where: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Lenart Auditorium
When: Tuesday, May 18 @ 7:00 pm
RSVP: darwin@socgen.ucla.edu or (310) 267-5471
Admission: Free (parking is $10)


“One of the twins has always been the leader and has bossed his brother since early on. I have enrolled them in a preschool and this is their 4th week. The boys seem to block out the teacher and do not want to follow rules. They will not make eye contact. The biggest issue today is M pushed another child and stomped on the teacher’s foot. M doesn’t seem to want to sit at circle time and one day this week he got up and pulled pictures off of the wall. His brother T then followed him doing the same thing. So in a nut shell they are disruptive to an existing class.”

I recently received this email from a mom feeling distraught about this situation with her twin boys. She read what I wrote about “too much togetherness” in my book and concurred that this is truly what has happened. I can’t tell you how many times I have encountered this issue with preschool age twins. The twin dynamic that has characterized the twin pair can become a problem within the contextualized social world of preschool. If this pattern of one twin controlling the other and the other twin imitating and accommodating to this pattern, entry into a preschool class with other children will only exaggerate the difficulties. Hoping or believing that the presence of other children will help to minimize this dynamic is often wishful thinking. In fact, often times the opposite occurs – there is a resurgence of the dynamic in spades as both twins are threatened and uncomfortable by the socialization demands to which they are unaccustomed.

Don’t deceive yourselves – there is no magical solution. What it takes is dedication to the principle of separate experiences with the hope that given ample time the twins can adjust to being in separate classes so that the strength of the twin bond is reduced, thereby giving each child the opportunity to be acting on his own behalf rather than feeling like half of a pair.