School-Age Multiples

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A Glimpse into the Life of Triplets

Special thanks to Corinne Parco for sharing her high school senior project with us! She writes, “I decided to write an article about triplets since I, myself, am a triplet. The article is about the perspective of triplets and triplet mothers.”

Throughout human history the number “three” has been a number of fascination and importance. In the world of art there are only three primary colors that are needed to make most colors; red, yellow, and blue. Three is a number representing time: past, present, and future; birth, life, death; or beginning, middle, end. In fairy tales, characters are usually granted three wishes. So, it is only natural for people to have a fascination with triplets. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a triplet? Or have you ever had the fleeting thought about wanting to have triplets? The triplet life is complicated – three of everything including three mouths to feed, three diapers to change, three cribs, triple the mess and triple the fun!

I am a triplet and I am going to give you a unique look into what life is like for a triplet and also triplet parents. There are many challenges and rewards in both areas, so if becoming a parent of triplets is in your future, I hope that this insight is helpful.

I interviewed five triplet mothers: Stacy, Sue Ann, Julie, Sue, and Jennifer for their unique perspectives to give you an inside look into their lives. From a social aspect, many triplet mothers said they feel like they’re being judged because they have triplets. One of the triplet mothers, Sue Ann, said it was hard going out in public because most people are curious or fascinated. When they see triplets they feel the need to stop her to ask questions. People believe having triplets is a miracle and a burden; a miracle that they were able to give birth to three babies at once, but also a burden to have to take care of three babies at once. Typical comments to triplet mothers from strangers are: “I am glad it is you and not me”, “You have your hands full”. Other frequently asked questions were: “Do you dress them alike?”, “How do you do it?”, “Do they share the same birthday party?”, “Can you tell them apart?”. “Are they identical” (even with girls/boys/sets). People often ask how the moms conceived triplets. (Wow that’s a personal question!) To that Sue Ann replied “That is none of your darn business!” Other questions asked by strangers include: “Were you surprised to have triplets?”, “Do your triplets share?”, “Do you plan on having any more children?” and “Are they natural?”. You can see that when out in public the amount of curiosity is high amongst people. As a triplet parent, you need to be prepared for a lot of questions, and at times you may even feel that your children are bit of a spectacle.

As triplets grow older people tend to make assumptions about their personalities and their appearances, such as they must all be alike. Some people don’t understand the difference between identical and fraternal. For example, when I meet people and tell them I am a fraternal triplet they will say I look identical to one of my sisters. Triplets may look similar because they are siblings, but they can be fraternal. Another inference is that people believe triplets must be all into the same things or activities and they all share the same friends. Julie commented, “People sometimes assume that they have all the same interests and abilities. That they are less unique because they are triplets.”

Speaking from a triplet’s perspective there are times when I don’t want people to know I am a triplet because I’m asked too many questions such as: “Do your sisters look like you, have I seen them before?”, “Do you have the same classes?”, “Do they go to the same school as you?” and “What do they look like?”. When triplets are young, they may have the same hobbies and likes because they spend more time together and it’s easier for the parents to put them in the same classes. But as they grow older, their activities and preferences are going to differ from each other’s. Writing from a triplet’s view point, it’s a bit annoying that some people see triplets as one entity, by that I mean they think we all have the same interests, we must be best friends, and we all look identical. Everyone is their own unique individual! Jennifer stated that people often try to classify triplets into categories. Strangers ask which one is the sporty, active one or which one is the smart one? Some people tend to believe that triplets can read each other’s thoughts. Triplets can’t read each other’s thoughts! We may share a connection or bond because we were born and raised together, but we can’t really read each other’s minds.

When we were younger, my sisters and I were in the same classroom until we reached high school. At first it was fine being in the same class because we already had an automatic partner and didn’t need to ask anyone, but later on when we entered fifth grade that’s when everything started to change. We didn’t want to be in the same group anymore because grades started to matter. I had the better grades and during high school teachers would sometimes compare us. For example: “why don’t you study together?” “Why do you have the better grade in the class?” “Do they (my sisters) study?” I felt good knowing I had the better grades, but I also felt bad because I didn’t know my sisters weren’t doing that well in class. Entering high school has made my sisters and I grow apart because of school work and our extracurricular activities, but when we do get together and talk, it becomes a heart to heart discussion which brings us closer together.

The topic of money came up when interviewing triplet mothers. Parents of triplets have to pay for three of almost everything including three college educations at the same time, so financial planning and saving is essential in a household with triplets. To save money triplet mothers use coupons and search for the best deals in every purchase. Sue Ann mentioned that her children started to notice when their friends went on a nice vacation and they were able to eat out all the time. She also said the only time her family ate out was when her kids were young and everyone agreed to drink water, instead of soda, and order from the kid’s menu. One of the triplet mothers said when she brings her children to the outdoor dollar movies, instead of buying popcorn there, she brings her own home popped popcorn. Another way the triplet mothers save money is by selling and shopping at consignment sales organized by their multiple group. All of the triplet moms belonged to a twin or triplet group when their children were small for emotional support and to connect with other families. Sharing stories and best practices with expectant, or new parents, provides insight into the rare world of raising triplets, as well as how to survive the first few challenging years.

Being a triplet is very special and unique. Mentioning that you are a triplet can be a good ice breaker when meeting someone for the first time. On the other hand, many people tend to want to make a lot of assumptions about you and your siblings. I usually have to answer lots of questions and do quite a bit of explaining. I can now appreciate the challenge facing a triplet mom, with three babies in a stroller, trying to make it through the grocery store while having to deal with all of the questions posed by total strangers at the most inopportune or oddest time! I am blessed to be a triplet and to be a part of this rare bunch that has added perspective to my life.

Like the way the Pythagorean theorem defines the relationship of the three sides and three angles of a triangle, I feel like I am part of an equation that would be incomplete without my two sisters. They have added laughter, joy, frustration, and mostly a love that cannot be replaced by any other two people in this world. Though we are definitely individuals, with our own interests and personalities, we will always share an inexplicable bond, the bond of a triplet.

December 5th, 2017|Articles, School-Age Multiples|

Are You Raising an ‘Emotional Eater’?

HealthDay news image

From our friends at HealthDay.
Soothing your kids with food may stop the tears in the short-term. But researchers warn it can lead to unhealthy eating patterns long-term.Parents who are “emotional feeders” can encourage “emotional eating” — a habit linked to weight gain and eating disorders, the Norwegian-British study found.

“There is now even stronger evidence that parental feeding styles have a major influence on children’s dietary habits and how children relate to foods and beverages when it comes to addressing their own emotions,” said one expert, Rafael Perez-Escamilla. He’s a professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale University’s School of Public Health.

“Emotional feeding” is “what parents do when they provide foods or beverages to their children to calm them down, such as when a child is having a tantrum,” added Perez-Escamilla, who wasn’t involved with the study.

Relying on junk food, desserts and sugary foods for comfort can lead to overeating, and later problems such as bulimia and binge-eating, said study lead author Silje Steinsbekk and colleagues.

“You don’t feel like having a carrot if you’re sad,” said Steinsbekk, an associate professor of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

For the new study, the researchers looked at the feeding and eating habits of more than 800 children in Norway, starting at age 4. They checked in on the kids at ages 6, 8 and 10.

About two-thirds of the children at all those ages showed signs of eating to make themselves feel better, judging by questionnaires answered by their parents.

Kids offered food for comfort at ages 4 and 6 displayed more emotional eating at ages 8 and 10, the study found.

Also, the researchers also found signs that kids who felt more easily comforted by food were fed more by parents for that purpose.

“Emotional feeding increases emotional eating and vice versa,” Steinsbekk said.

The researchers spotted another trend: Children who became angry or upset more easily at age 4 were more likely to eat to feel better and to be fed by parents for that purpose.

“This makes total sense as parents get very stressed out when their children are having a fit or crying non-stop,” said Perez-Escamilla.

But there are better ways of dealing with discomfort, said Melissa Cunningham Kay, a research assistant with the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.

“Feeling sad or angry are normal emotions. Rather than using food as a distraction from them, children should be taught to tolerate them and find other ways to cope,” said Kay, who was not part of the study.

“Sometimes that may involve positive discipline and a few tears or even a full-on tantrum,” said Kay. “Parents should not fear this. It is a normal and a necessary part of development.”

Perez-Escamilla said parents should soothe upset kids by understanding and responding to their problems — say, a wet diaper — instead of offering food as a first response, he said.

He praised the new research, noting that the eating habits of kids and their parents are closely intertwined.

“Young children develop their eating habits by observing how their caregivers eat,” he said. “If they see their caregivers drinking soda and eating junk food and desserts when the caregiver is stressed or upset, then that’s what the children will do when they are experiencing similar emotions.”

“Emotional eating should be avoided at all costs,” he added.

Study lead author Steinsbekk added: “There’s no reason to worry if you have a chocolate to feel better now and then. The problem is if this is your typical way of handling negative emotions.”

The same goes for dealing with kids, he said. “Parents are not supposed to be perfect, but good enough. Randomly using food to soothe your child is no big deal as long as you usually rely on other strategies,” he said.

The study authors cautioned that their review relied on questionnaires answered by parents, not direct observation by the scientists. And they noted that it took place in Norway with a population that’s well-educated and not very diverse, so the findings may not apply elsewhere.

The study appears April 25 in the journal Child Development.

12 Tips for Teaching Children Gratitude

Tired of bickering, jealousy, and selfishness? Kids are naturally materialistic and self-serving– but the good news is that gratitude can be taught. And from gratitude flows joy.

Tricks for Teaching Children Gratitude and Creating a More Joyful Home:

  1. Surprise them! Avoid too many choices: Surprises help children see something as a gift, not an entitlement. Having too many choices breeds unhappiness– you are always wondering if you could have something better. One night, we tried to have a conversation with our children about where we might go for our summer vacation. Within five minutes, Disney World was not good enough. Everyone had a better idea, and no one was going to be happy with whatever we came up with. I put a prompt end to that conversation, and about a week later, I announced that I had a big surprise– we were going to Mt. Rushmore! I showed off my plans for our national park camping vacation, and they couldn’t have been more excited. Our low-budget road trip turned out to be a fabulous success.
  2. Talk about the best parts of your day: Find some time each day to talk about what you are thankful for– perhaps at the dinner table, before bed, or while you are driving in the car. Ask your children, “What was the best part of your day?”
    • For older children, try keeping a gratitude journal. Gratitude journals have been shown to be an effective approach to helping children be happier: One study had 221 sixth- and seventh-graders write down five things they were grateful for every day for two weeks. Three weeks later, these students had a better outlook on school and greater life satisfaction compared with kids assigned to list five hassles.
  3. Teach your children their past: What are your family stories of hardship and perseverance? My husband’s great-grandmother ironed for a living– her iron is now a bookend in our house, reminding our children what hard work really means. As a child, my grandmother washed dishes for ten cents per week during the depression. We keep her picture in our study, and tell our children her story. Not sure of your past? Just take a family trip to the history museum, a battlefield, or other historic site. You will return home grateful.
  4. Help your children serve someone who does not “need” charity: It’s great for kids to participate in scout food collections and other community charity programs, but these events only occur a few times per year and you rarely meet the people you are serving. Find someone in your everyday life for your children to serve regularly, even if this person doesn’t really need charity. We have a neighbor who lives alone and appreciates our left-overs so she doesn’t have to cook for one person. Our kids love to bring her food. One night they were all griping about how they didn’t like the dinner I made, until I asked them to bring a plate to our neighbor. Suddenly all the complaining stopped and they were out the door with her food, eager to have the opportunity to serve her.
  5. Focus on the positive, all day: I tell my children several times each day, “Attitude is a choice.” Choosing to have a positive attitude is actually our #1 house rule. It’s an all-day effort to constantly turn around the whining, jealousy, and complaining and instead focus on positive. “I’m thirsty!” needs to become, “Mommy, may I please have a drink?” “Where are my shoes?!” has to change to “Daddy, can you please help me find my shoes?”
  6. Say “Thank you:” Teach young children to say “thank you” as part of a full sentence, for example, “Thank you, Daddy, for making dinner.” Encourage school-aged kids to say thank you throughout the day, especially when you help them get ready for school or drive them to activities. Have them thank coaches for practice and music teachers for lessons.
    • Struggling to get your children to say “thank you” without reminders? For ten years I reminded my children to say “thank you” when they were served at a restaurant, but I just couldn’t get them to do it without prompting. Now, if they forget to say “thank-you” they have to seek out their server and personally thank them before leaving. No more reminders necessary…
  7. Lead by example: How many times per day do you say “thank you”? Have you told your children what you are thankful for today? Our children are watching our every waking move. We can’t ask them to be grateful if we are not. Come home and talk about the happy parts of your day, making a conscious choice not to complain.
  8. Teach “‘Tis better to give than to receive.” Even toddlers can buy or make gifts for others: Take young children holiday shopping at the dollar store. Challenge them to pick out gifts for others without buying something for themselves. It’s hard!
  9. Make time for chores: Most children have about four hours between the time they get home from school and bedtime. During those four hours, they have to accomplish homework, extracurricular activities, dinner, bath, and bedtime. It’s hard to find time for chores. Without chores, children just can’t understand what it takes to run a household– they will take clean laundry and dishes for granted. Find age-appropriate chores for your children, even just 5-10 minutes per day. Consider leaving time-intensive chores for the weekend, such as yard work, bathroom cleaning, and linen changing.
  10. Let big kids take care of little kids: They say you can’t really understand what it takes to raise a child until you have your own children. Perhaps, but giving big kids responsibilities for little kids will start to help them have an attitude of gratitude towards their parents. Pair up big kids with little kids to get chores done or get through homework.
    • School aged children can read books to toddlers or help them get dressed. Your older children will gain self-confidence and a sense of responsibility, and the relationship they build with their younger siblings will last a lifetime.
  11. Give experiential gifts, not stuff: Too many toys? How about gifting a membership to the children’s museum, a soccer registration fee, or a camping trip? Experiential gifts build relationships, not materialism.
  12. Monitor your children’s media: Our children are bombarded with age-targeted marketing that they are too young to resist or understand. Media fuels materialism. It is our job to carefully monitor their media so that they aren’t dragged into marketing and made to feel incomplete or unfulfilled.


Research Offers Clues to Cause of Dyslexia

More good info. from our friends at HealthDay!

People with the reading disability dyslexia may have brain differences that are surprisingly wide-ranging, a new study suggests.

Using specialized brain imaging, scientists found that adults and children with dyslexia showed less ability to “adapt” to sensory information compared to people without the disorder.

And the differences were seen not only in the brain’s response to written words, which would be expected. People with dyslexia also showed less adaptability in response to pictures of faces and objects.

That suggests they have “deficits” that are more general, across the whole brain, said study lead author Tyler Perrachione. He’s an assistant professor of speech, hearing and language sciences at Boston University.

The findings, published in the Dec. 21 issue of the journal Neuron, offer clues to the root causes of dyslexia.

Other studies have found that people with dyslexia show differences in the brain’s structure and function.

“But it hasn’t been clear whether those differences are a cause or consequence of dyslexia,” Perrachione explained.

The chicken-and-egg question is tricky, because years of reading, or years of reading disability, affect brain development.

Perrachione said his team thinks it has discovered a cause of dyslexia — partly because the reduced adaptation was seen in young kids, and not only adults.

A researcher who was not involved in the study called it “groundbreaking.”

“Frankly, researchers have struggled with understanding the brain bases of dyslexia,” said Guinevere Eden, director of the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Scientists have known that brain structure and function look different in people with dyslexia, Eden said, but they haven’t known why.

“This study makes an important step in that direction,” she said. “It gets to the true characteristics of the properties of the neurons [cells] in these brain regions, not just their outward appearance.”

People with dyslexia have consistent problems with language skills, especially reading.

According to the International Dyslexia Association, as much as 15 percent to 20 percent of the population has symptoms of dyslexia — including “slow” reading, poor spelling and writing skills, and problems deciphering words that are similar to each other.

The new study aimed to see whether “neural adaptation” might play a role.

Adaptation is how the brain improves its efficiency. Perrachione offered an example: When you speak to someone for the first time, the brain needs a little time to get used to that person’s voice, speaking rhythms and pronunciation of words, for instance.

But then the brain adapts and stops working so hard to process the other person’s speech.

In people with dyslexia, however, that adaptation seems to be hindered. “Their brains are working harder to process these sensory inputs,” Perrachione said.

The new findings are based on functional MRI scans of adults and children with and without dyslexia. The scans were used to capture the study participants’ brain activity as they performed a series of tasks.

In one experiment, the participants listened to a series of words, read either by a single speaker or several different ones. Overall, the researchers found, people without dyslexia adapted to the single voice, but not to multiple speakers.

In contrast, people with dyslexia showed much less adaptation in their brain activity, even when listening to a single speaker. The same pattern was seen when study participants viewed written words.

But the differences went beyond words: People with dyslexia showed less brain adaptation in response to images of faces and objects.

That’s “surprising,” Eden said, since the disorder does not involve apparent problems with recognizing faces or objects.

Perrachione speculated on a reason for the findings: The reduced brain adaptation may only “show up” when it comes to reading, because reading is such a complex skill.

The brain has no dedicated “reading” area. “Reading is a tool, or technology, that we’ve invented,” Perrachione pointed out.

Learning to use that technology requires a complex orchestration of different brain “domains,” he explained.

And yet, because everyone is expected to read, most people probably do not realize what an accomplishment it is, Perrachione said.

Eden agreed. “Learning to read is an astonishing feat and one that we often take for granted,” she said.

Will the new understanding of dyslexia lead to new therapies? It’s not clear, both Eden and Perrachione said.

Right now, dyslexia is managed with specialized reading instruction, starting as early as possible. That’s not going to change, Eden said.

But if scientists better understand what’s happening in the brain, Perrachione said, it might be possible to refine the reading therapies used for dyslexia.

5 Ways to Bully-Proof Your Kid

Talk about it. Talk about bullying with your kids and have other family members share their experiences. If one of your kids opens up about being bullied, praise him or her for being brave enough to discuss it and offer unconditional support. Consult with the school to learn its policies and find out how staff and teachers can address the situation.

Remove the bait. If it’s lunch money or gadgets that the school bully is after, you can help neutralize the situation by encouraging your child to pack a lunch or go to school gadget-free.

Buddy up for safety. Two or more friends standing at their lockers are less likely to be picked on than a child who is all alone. Remind your child to use the buddy system when on the school bus, in the bathroom, or wherever bullies may lurk.

Keep calm and carry on. If a bully strikes, a kid’s best defense may be to remain calm, ignore hurtful remarks, tell the bully to stop, and simply walk away. Bullies thrive on hurting others. A child who isn’t easily ruffled has a better chance of staying off a bully’s radar.

Don’t try to fight the battle yourself. Sometimes talking to a bully’s parents can be constructive, but it’s generally best to do so in a setting where a school official, such as a counselor, can mediate.

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January 9th, 2017|School-Age Multiples|