Episode 187 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
In this episode, I chat with Todd Courtney father of identical twin boys.
We dive into Todd’s twin journey, including:
- how his twins caused bathroom plumbing repairs
- when the twins would take off others’ diapers
- what they had to do to keep the twins in their own cribs
- juggling invitations from different friends for each of the twins
- a big regret during those younger years with twins
- how the twins were dependent on each other
- when the twins finally started doing their “own” thing
- when one twin was better than the other at sports or academics
- why the first seven years with your children are so important
- how we are programming our children’s beliefs even if we don’t intend to
- how to avoid the negative conditioning of our children
- breaking the bad patterns we learned from our parents
- how to correct course when the kids get older
Todd’s site: maxrhymes.com
Joe: Hey there and welcome to the 187th episode of the Dad’s Guide To Twins Podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. As always, you can find me on the web at twindadpodcast.com where you’ll find the complete show notes and transcript of this episode and all previous podcast episodes.
Today we’re talking with fellow father of twins, Todd Courtney, who will share some good insights into raising twins as well as some interesting research into the early years with your kids and the important steps we can take in that timeframe to help set them up for a life of success.
Before we jump into the interview, today’s show is brought to you by a book, Dad’s Guide To Twins – How To Survive The Twin Pregnancy And Prepare For Your Twins. You can get a free audiobook version of this book over at freetwinbook.com. Once again, that’s freetwinbook.com.
Joe: Today I’d like to welcome to the show, fellow father of twins and author of a great series of children’s books, Todd Courtney. Welcome to the show, Todd.
Todd: Thank you, Joe, and thanks for having me.
Joe: So, Todd, your twin boys are a little older now. How old are they?
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Todd: Yeah, they are 20! It was a fast 20 years.
Joe: A fast 20 years. Are they identical or fraternal boys?
Todd: They’re identical, yeah, which has been a lot of fun.
Joe: I hear you. My girls are identical. They are only half the age. They’re 10 right now. So I’m glad to know you can actually survive the next 10 years as they go through teenage-hood and such.
Todd: Yeah, no doubt. I think the harder time for us was when they were little.
Joe: What were some of those biggest challenges that you look back upon when they were younger?
Todd: Gosh, you know, it’s kind of like you go back to the … when I go back to the early toddler days, when I’d get phone calls from the … not phone calls, but invoices from the plumber because those little squishy letters and numbers that they would use in the bathtub and they would stick to the wall, just because they’re wet? They would flush those down the toilet and I’d get an invoice for $200 from the plumber. A W and a T trapped in the drain line. That was … three times that happened to us. Oh, my God. See, now you’re opening the floodgates here. I should’ve wrote this stuff down. One time it was quiet. You know it’s always scary when the kids are quiet, right? When they’re making noise, you know everything’s fine.
Joe: That’s right, you know where they are. You know what they’re doing.
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Todd: When they’re quiet, you’re like, “What the heck?” So, somehow again they’re in the bathtub and it’s one of those things, too, you’re gone for like 20 seconds and they proceed to use a bucket and pour water onto the floor in their attempt to go surfing. So, probably watching some cartoon where the kids are going surfing and, of course, the water leaks all the way into the hallway and floods all the carpet. Yeah, that was … now, on the dirtier side, it was when they both decided to change each other’s diapers. Did you ever have that?
Joe: Yeah, they would take each other’s stuff off, yeah. That could lead to trouble.
Todd: God. I mean, to a point where for us, with the boys, they probably got away with t his five times before we … so, they would hop in the other person’s crib. They shared a room, of course, and change each other’s poopy diapers, the early morning diapers, because they wanted that out of them and, of course, it gets all over the crib, all over their hands, all over the walls as they’re trying to wipe it off and we couldn’t figure out how to stop it. So we ended up turning their onesies backwards, okay? But that didn’t help. That didn’t help because the other one would figure out how to do it. That didn’t work, so we used to actually duct tape. So, we’d turn them around backwards, plus we used duct tape. Now that worked because the duct tape’s so dang good, they couldn’t undo it. But then they still got in each other’s cribs.
Todd: So then we used those tents on the top that kind of zip and it was hard for them to undo and that’s when we kept them in their own cribs until we came in, in the morning. But it took us like five times to learn how to prevent that from happening.
Joe: Right, it’s like multiple layers of defense there to keep them out of trouble.
Todd: Well, yeah, because you think the one thing’s going to work and it doesn’t, so then you’ve got to try something else and then you’ve got to try … you’ve got to keep working slowly at it. You don’t go from zero to 100, all at once, right? You just add a little more to the recipe until you find something that works. But, man, yeah those were the days. Those stories go on and on, too, but you had girls. So, tell me the difference between girls at that age versus boys or is there any?
Joe: Well, we have four kids. Our first two were boys, not twins, but. So we got a flavor of what boys would be like and then we had our twin girls. The girls have been a lot more dramatic, emotional. I know there’s sometimes a stereotype about girls, but-
Todd: It’s true.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Joe: -there is truth to that.
Todd: It’s true in our family, yeah.
Joe: Where our boys were kind of mellow and they would stay where we put them. The girls … I don’t know if it was because they were girls or if they were just a different breed altogether, but they would get in more trouble, help each other get into trouble, like you noted with your boys. They seemed to build upon each other’s mischief and find ways to do things that a single child could not do.
Todd: That’s right, yeah. That’s exactly right. If one doesn’t think of something, the other one does and if one doesn’t want to do it, the other one coaxes the other one into doing it so the mischief level is a bit exponential because our daughter … we have a daughter as well and she is about a year and a half, 18 months, when the boys were born. That’s how old she was, so it was kind of close to having triplets because they were so close in age. But, thankfully, because she was a girl, she was the first, she was a little more mature, so that was a huge help for us as they grew up.
Joe: Yeah, our kids are pretty close together, too. When the girls were born, we had … the four were all age three and younger. They kind of go through the same, very intense seasons of life as they go through diapers, and as they go training this and training that. Now they’re all pretty self-sufficient, now that they are in the tweens to teenage range.
Todd: Oh yeah, absolutely, and then you’re like, “Thank God,” to get out of the diaper age because of the … not just because of the pain in the rear factor, but it’s so darned expensive. I mean, you’re constantly just shelling out cash for diapers. It’s like, I remember almost virtually every-other-day, the wife telling me, “Stop at the store and get diapers. Stop at the diapers and get diapers.”
Joe: As your boys got older, when did they start kind of doing their own individual things versus maybe being co-dependent or always wanting to be together?
Todd: You know what’s funny is … yeah, it’s hard to say because they are so similar in their likes, and I don’t know if you experienced this, but many twin parents do, other parents when they want to invite … let’s say … because we always split them up in different classes, right? We always had, from whatever, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, we always had them have different teachers. Then they’d try to do that on purpose, which makes sense to me. And my wife is a teacher, so she gets that as well. But, man, they’re so similar and I think the hardest thing, really, was other parents because when other parents would want to invite … let’s say in our case, Hunter and Will. One of them had Will in the class and so that boy in that class, birthday party, wanted to invite Will like his other classmates to his birthday party. But, inevitably, the parents always felt obligated to also invite Hunter, his twin brother and likewise the same thing would happen in Hunter’s classes. So up until probably age 15, I could probably count on one hand how many times they had been apart.
Todd: And that was probably the difficult part, because if there’s any … you try not to have any regrets, but we all have them … if there was any regret I have, it’s not spending enough one-on-one time. It was easier to deal with my daughter because she was the only girl. But it’s because the boys were so similar, they loved the outdoors. They loved to go fishing. They loved to go hiking. They loved to go mess around, so there’s so many things you could do, but it was extremely difficult to do and take one without the other, because the other always wanted to be there. So much so, I’ll never forget one time and I don’t know, maybe they were eight, nine and they were split up at different family member’s houses, different uncles we’ll call it … aunt and uncle’s houses. So the next day, when we got them back, we were like, “Well, what did you do?” “Oh, not much.” “Oh, really?” “No, I was just wondering what Hunter was doing.” And then we literally asked Hunter, “Well, Hunter, what did you do?” “Oh, I was wondering what Will was doing.” And those are in separate conversations in separate rooms, so it’s not like the other heard what the other was saying. That’s the funny thing with twins, right?
Joe: Have they kind of separated now that they’re adults, out of high school?
Todd: Their first year at college, they separated. One went to the University of Alabama. The other one went to the University of Reno. And then their sophomore year, they joined up. Will, who went to Alabama, transferred to Reno and so now they’re together, although they don’t live together. They live in two separate houses, but yeah, they’re back together.
Joe: I know our girls … one of our girls is more dependent on the other, than vice-versa and so I think one of our girls would probably want to go far away, like your boys. One went to Alabama and the other stayed in Nevada, so I think one of our girls would want to go far away and the other would try to convince her sister to get back close again.
Todd: Yeah, and then you’ll wonder if it will be a case where the one that’s a little more co-dependent, she may follow the other one and it was hard. Because, even as a parent, and there’s no rule book, right? There’s no “Raising Twins For Dummies” book out there, and so we all just kind of fumble and figure things out, but intellectually we knew that being separated was a good thing for them, but emotionally, as parents, we were kind of sad that they broke apart. It was just an odd feeling for us. It wasn’t easy, because we felt like, “Oh, wait a minute. What? They’re being separate? What do you mean?” But yet, we knew that was the right thing. Does that make sense?
Joe: Yeah, those are challenges of parents. This year our girls are actually in the same class. They just came to this new school and had them in the same class. Before that, they had been separate. The one who is more independent, is already wanting to be separate again and it’ll be interesting as they get older, being known for not being “the twins,” like your boys when they actually separated to different colleges, they weren’t always with the twin or they weren’t known as a twin.
Joe: They were known as an individual.
Todd: Exactly right, exactly right. And that was kind of cool for them and the funny thing is, is when Will from Alabama goes to the University of Reno, then all of a sudden they’re like, “Wait a minute.” You know, people were tripping out because they didn’t really know he had a twin because it’s not like, “Oh, yeah, I’ve got a twin brother.” I mean, you might tell your close buddies, but all the other people that you’re hanging out with don’t know that and so it was really funny. Because when you’re walking out of a room at a party and then maybe you’re coming in from another door just a second later, people are tripping out and they’re like, “What?” And I guess they had some fun with that.
Todd: But, in our case, and I don’t know what you found from other parents, but in our case we noticed our boys would kind of flip back and forth, meaning one would be a little more empowered and then the other one would follow that one and then it might be a year. It could even be two years later, where it kind of flip-flopped and the other one kind of felt empowered and then the other one … so there were like role reversals that happened throughout their childhood and we just kind of took a backseat to it. We were cognizant of it and just kind of watched and kind of wondered, really, because not being a twin, neither myself nor my wife, so watching and experiencing what twins experience is pretty trippy, really. It’s fun, though.
Joe: It is fun. Yeah, that is fascinating. Our girls have done that, too, since they were little. Subbing kind of personality traits. Or one’s successful at something and a few months later, that’s reversed. It’s been very interesting to watch that.
Todd: Yeah, exactly right, exactly right. And I think, like in our case, one was a little, just a hair better at sports and so tended to beat his brother out, whether it was on the swim team and getting the blue ribbon versus the red ribbon or lacrosse or baseball, soccer, it was just that hair and I know that drove the other one crazy, yet the other one was a bit stronger academically, so it’s kind of funny how nature, God, whatever you want to say, kind of does these different roles for them to play. And, again, as parents of twins to me, it’s just a wonder. It is an amazing wonder as you just sit back and watch this live because people without twins, they just don’t get it. There’s nothing for them to get, because they’re not seeing it in realtime.
Joe: That’s right. It is fun to watch the uniqueness. As you and I both have had other children to kind of compare and contrast the experience of twins versus a singleton.
Todd: Yeah, exactly right.
Joe: So, Todd, you’ve done professionally some behavioral research into the importance of those early years with your kids, particularly ages when they’re born up to age seven. Why is that timeframe so important for kids, developmentally?
Todd: Yeah, I’ve spent now about a decade and a half researching this and it was kind of like I fell into it by accident. I was actually looking to just better myself and to do different things and I fell into a book called “The Biology Of Belief,” by Dr. Bruce Lipton. He’s the world’s leading authority on epigenetics, which is a big word. I didn’t know what the heck it meant. “Epi” now Latin for “above” and “genetics” of course, “genes,” above the genes, so he was talking about that and he got into brainwaves and I was reading it in bed one night and I was telling my wife, Jackie. I’m like, “Oh, my God, Jackie, look at this!” And the bummer part is and I’ll go back to it in a second, but the bummer part is when we learned it, our boys were eight and our daughter was like 10 and I’m like, “Oh, my God, Jackie, we’re too late!” So, the reason it’s extremely important is because we’re born in what they call a delta brainwave frequency, which is nothing more than just a very low and slow frequency.
Todd: So it’s kind of like going to the Mac store and buying a brand new Mac, right? Let’s pretend it comes with no programs. I know nowadays, they come with programs. But, let’s pretend they come with no programs, but of course there’s no viruses either, right?
Todd: And what do you do with the Mac is you plug it into the internet. You start downloading programs and, of course, with that comes viruses as you play on the internet. Kind of like the same thing bringing a baby home from the hospital. No programming. You bring that baby home and it starts to assimilate and listen to things in the home, feel, and all of that’s just getting downloaded as a belief system, as truth, whether it’s a positive truth or a negative truth, it really doesn’t matter. It’s that baby’s truth. And so around two, we switch up around two, not a huge change, but we move into a theta, which just means the brainwave is getting a little faster. We’re starting to close the gates, if you will. But the biggest change happens around age seven, when this switches to what they call an alpha frequency. And what that means is the brainwaves speed up. It’s a 95% of what we learn, basically our knee-jerk reaction.
Todd: It could be prejudices. It could be our limitations on money. Money is a big one in family, right? Because if I were to ask you probably what’s the number one topic spouses fight over, argue over, it’s money. And what does the baby hear? Now the baby doesn’t get it, but what does the baby hear? Well, money, money, money. It hears that word all the time and it associates money with negative vibration. You know, anger. Well, it doesn’t want mommy or daddy to feel angry, so it associates money with negative vibration and, therefore, what happens is that baby grows into an adult and repeats history. Statistically speaking it’s got a high percentage chance that it’s going to also live in a world of scarcity, so when we learned that … and I used money because most people can relate to it, but it doesn’t really matter what the topic is. If you look in your own family and you look at your mom and your dad or siblings or aunts and uncles, we all learn tons of traits from them and it’s because that’s where we learn. That’s just normal.
Todd: And so I made it my mission to carve away, if you will, from eight to ten, on, I made it my mission to start changing my kids. It’s not like we were bad people, but we all know we can be better, but once I learned that and I was paranoid. I’m like, “Oh, my God. I downloaded all this stuff on my kids,” and so we spent the last 10 years, really, changing. And it works over a very long period of time. It’s extremely difficult. So, for people that have younger kids under age seven, it is imperative to understand this so you can make it that much easier for them as they become adults.
Joe: Most of our listeners are … they’re expecting twins or they’re in their early couple years of twins, so they’re in that timeframe right now where they can actually make a difference in that programming for their children. It sounds like we’re at risk of huge negative conditioning, unless we’re conscious about that, so what can we do to prevent some of that negative conditioning of our children?
Todd: By default, and we have to get away from, “Oh, I’m a great parent, I’m a great parent,” because if you look at … if I were to ask you … I’ll just ask you this question. Have you noticed our core values and what we’ll just call our core values, you know, manners, gratitude, personal responsibility. Have you noticed, Joe, that these have been kind of watered down in our society lately, the last decade or so?
Joe: Yeah, they have.
Todd: Everybody basically says yes, especially at the grandparent level. Meaning, 50 and above, 45 and above even, it’s literally 100% yes. Every now and then with young parents, “No, no, no. It’s great. Everything’s great.” Okay, that’s … but it’s still about 85, 90% agree. Now the scary thing is, behavioral scientists tell us statistically this is only going to get worse. It has to, for the simple reason that it can’t just reverse itself, because as we kind of dilute our traditional values across the board, so basically how our behavioral patterns, ourselves, as adults, however we act in the house, that of course is going to be downloaded to those kids. So it made sense and so how you do that is to make sure your kids are just inundated with positive material. If they’re watching cartoons, nowadays we’ve got to be careful on what kind of cartoons. Especially with adult animations that are on TV today, right? There’s a lot of them. And so the kids will gravitate to animation.
Todd: Pay attention to what we’re listening to on the radio. Pay attention to how we argue and try not to argue. It’s not that you want to raise the baby or the child in bubbles. We’re not trying to create this utopian society because it’s virtually impossible. It’s just being more aware and that’s how Jackie and I created the Max Rhymes Series is to create something that will allow the parent to simply download positive messagings. And we just did it through the power of rhymes. But you can do it in a number of ways. But it is imperative if you want a child to grow up with high self-esteem, which is a huge one today. Because self-esteem is at an all-time low with our teenagers and it’s not just a United States issue, it’s a worldwide issue. When you graduate from being a teen to a young adult and you get into the adult world … we’re living in a world now where one out of six adults are taking pharmaceuticals for antidepressants. One out of six and that starts with depressed teens and low self-esteem.
Todd: So, all of this correlates to what do we have to do or what can we do right out of the gate from birth … actually, in a perfect world, third trimester, you just start reading and talking to the baby. But literally, right out of the gate through age seven, that’s the crucial years. So if you can download as much positive information as possible, you can at least help your child get on that fast track to high self-esteem.
Joe: And what does that messaging look like? I mean, like tangibly, how do we convey that message to the children?
Todd: Yeah, so what we did and it really was by accident, because the first book I wrote was for teenagers and I was trying to help teens because my kids were young teens at the time and I was already on this path. I was on this kind of independent search for a better life and I just had a lot of questions and so I started diving deep and I got into behavioral sciences, epigenetics, brain science and psychology and I’m going, “Wow.” And it allowed me to, quite honestly, I became a better husband, a better father, a better friend, a better boss. I doubled my insurance practice in five years, what took me 20 years to build and that’s when I go, “Wow, I’ve got to share this information that I’ve garnered over the years on this kind of self-journey.” And the first book I wrote was for teenagers. I guess I’d call it kind of a starter self-help book to teach teens why they think the thoughts they think, which are, in many cases, destructive thoughts and how to reverse that. To teach them how to think thoughts they really think, which are constructive thoughts.
Todd: And then I was helping a couple of women turn their lives around in some of these groups that I was teaching classes in and I’m like, “Wow, man, if I can help a couple of really messed up adults.” I mean, both were physically ill, psychologically weak, and financially upside-down and I was able to reverse this and I’m like, “What can I do for kids?” So I ended up creating an animation video for kids with leukemia and it’s a long story I won’t get into, but I didn’t know anything about leukemia. I didn’t know anything about animation, but I was just kind of driven to do that. And during this time, all these projects were overlapping because this is what I started doing in my spare time, if there is such a thing. But Jackie wanted to do children’s books because she’s a third grade elementary schoolteacher and I’m like, “Oh, man. I don’t want to do children’s books. I want to help people. I want to do something that makes a difference.”
Todd: And having run in, again, to “The Biology Of Belief,” on epigenetics with Dr. Bruce Lipton, that’s when it clicked and I said, “Oh, Jackie, you’re right. We have to.” And so to go back to your point, but I was trying to explain how we got there because this certainly was not on my bucket list. Actually, being an author and doing any of these things was not on my bucket list at all, but definitely writing children’s books certainly was not on my bucket list, but I happen to have this gift of rhyming and I knew how to write an affirmation. For your listeners who don’t know what an affirmation is, it’s really just saying something in the present-tense. So, you’re trying to rewire your brain by saying something over, and over, and over again in the present-tense or using the power of “I am.” I am wonderful. I am giving. I am nice. Whatever you want to say. So what we did with Max Rhymes is we created a book on manners and through the whole book, there are these affirmations that we baked into short rhymes so the kids can memorize them.
Todd: We’ve got a book on responsibility, which teaches the child to make their bed, brush their teeth, pick up their toys and what we found and I kind of thought it would take months for the kids to mimic and memorize the rhymes and act like Max, Molly and their friends, but literally we’re getting so many parents that are telling us that their kids are behaving like this within days and sometimes the same day. So, somehow we hit a little magic, I guess, because it’s working and then the kids want to make their bed and they want to brush their teeth because they like praise, right? I’m sure all your kids love to be praised, right Joe?
Todd: And so they all do, so what they learn then because kids have what are called mirror neurons. Well, we all have them, but kids really use them. So, when they go to preschool, school, or even playing with a friend and if there’s multiple friends and they see one child doing something, the child through mirror neuron, will mimic what that other child is doing. The other child will smile back, knowing that they just copied them. And it’s because it’s in our nature. It’s in our DNA to be liked. We all want to be liked by our peer groups.
Todd: And so what we’ve learned is that’s what these kids are doing with Max and the characters in the Max Rhymes book. They’re starting to mirror what Max is doing and then it’s, of course, a parent’s dream come true because now instead of the parent having to kind of scold the kid or kind of force the kid to make the bed or brush their teeth or do all these things that many kids don’t like to do because the kids like praise and they mirror their peer groups and they look at Max as one of their peers, well then it makes it that much easier for parents. I know that’s a very long answer to your question, but hopefully we got there.
Joe: No, that’s great. We’ve seen great success in our home with focusing on the positive actions our kids are taking and praising those. Because your knee-jerk reaction is to jump all over them when they make mistakes or when they do something wrong. You’re just kind of reinforcing that bad behavior because you’re giving it the attention.
Todd: That’s right.
Joe: So, if you starve those things of attention and focus on what they’re doing well, the right thing, they do that more often.
Todd: That’s right. And the reason … and you just hit the nail on the head because of what we talked about earlier, the reason we have those knee-jerk reactions as parents, is because our parents had the knee-jerk reaction to us and then those beliefs and those behavioral patterns were locked and loaded by the age of seven when we were seven, so what do we do? We repeat history and that’s why it’s so important for parents to understand this so they can finally break the chain. And it doesn’t matter what that chain is. It could be low income. It could be middle income. It could be prescription drugs. It could be depression. I mean, there’s just an array of topics or chains that we would like to break, but we have to be cognizant of it because otherwise we just repeat history and then it starts all over again.
Joe: I mean, if we’re honest and we look at our interactions with our kids, we’ll see kind of the consequence of how we interact with them, the praise that we give them. If we kind of do an audit, we’ll see exactly what you’re describing and we have to make a decision that that’s not the pattern that I want to be reinforcing with my kids.
Joe: I want to try. I want to break the chain, whatever the chain may be and do something different. So, you’ve written several of these books, the Max Rhymes series. What book in the series would be a good place to start or would be most helpful for children?
Todd: Each book teaches a different value or direction. We tend not to blend them. So, a book on, “Be Responsible Like Max,” is one that is all about being responsible. So I always answer it with, “Well, what virtue do you not want to teach your child?” Then, of course, the person chuckles and laughs and typically it’s when we’re doing book signings is when we’re having those kind of conversations. But I get it. Not everybody’s going to buy a whole boxed set of books. So it really doesn’t matter which one. One of them is going to call to you as a parent. “Oh, I like this one on manners.” “Oh, I like this one on being responsible.” Or, “Giving Thanks With Max.” Teaching the power of gratitude. “Oh, of course, I want my kid to know that.” And then when our bookstores have told us what they’ve noticed is that if people do buy a single book, then they come back a week later, they’ll buy another one. Then they’ll come back a week later to buy another one. So, it really doesn’t matter what you start with. It’s whatever floats your boat, really, as a parent.
Joe: Yeah, what I’ve seen … when we try something new with our kids and it starts to work, you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to try to do more of that and expand that in our parenting.” This is probably what you’re seeing here with these different lessons in the books, as well.
Todd: Exactly. And the fact … what’s nice, too, you see my generation grew up with Mother Goose Rhymes and Humpty Dumpty. My wife, Jackie and I, we use that as an example all the time. I can recite Humpty Dumpty. I know the whole rhyme. Why do I know it? Because I learned it when I was such a young child and it’s now locked and loaded in the subconscious mind. So, what’s beautiful is the same kids today will have that experience with Max Rhymes. They’ll have these messages locked and loaded for the rest of their lives. The only difference will be, is the rhymes in Max Rhymes will mean something. It’ll inspire them. It’ll go, “Oh, yeah, I remember that as a kid.” Whereas, Humpty Dumpty, it didn’t really make any sense to a kid. It’s just a cute story that helps put words together. But they’re all great. The beauty of rhyming is it’ll teach kids to memorize, so what you’ll notice with a two-year-old or a three-year-old? They’ll have these books memorized by page, even though they can’t read yet.
Joe: It is, yeah. I remember that with our kids, just reading random kids books. We would read them so much that they would know what’s on the page, even though they couldn’t actually read.
Todd: That’s exactly right. And to the unknown babysitter who might come or grandma or grandpa who might come and they’re like, “Oh, my gosh. She can read already?” Or, “He can read already?” It’s like, “No, the book’s just memorized,” but that’s a great thing because the purpose, like in our case with Max Rhymes, we want them to have them memorized because we don’t want them to forget their manners or forget being responsible. And let’s face it, they might fall off the wagon, of course, when they become early teens and late teens, but you can never get rid of the message because it’s going to be locked and loaded because we capitalized on those early brain waves.
Joe: Absolutely. You mentioned discovering some of this research when your kids were a little bit older. What are some things parents can do if their kids are older to kind of course correct back to the path that they want the kids to be on?
Todd: Well, I would tell you that one of the things I did, is I started talking to my kids about the older books, the more mature books I was reading and I would have them read a paragraph. I’d have them read a sentence and I’d go, “Wow, look at this. Look what it says about the subconscious mind.” Or, “Look what it says about behavior.” Or, “Look how it says we can change this.” Because I would t ell my kids how I messed up as a parent and I did it multiple times as they grew up, so they didn’t think everything I said before was what’s truth. It’s gospel, right, because they get us locked and loaded. But when my kids were going off to college, I sat them both down separately. I took my boys to lunch, the twins, and I said, “Look, here’s where I feel like I messed up and that’s because that’s what I thought was the right way of doing it or my truth, but now I’ve learned more, so just so you know as you go off to college, that there’s certain things that I’ve taught you that are wrong. You need to learn how to break those cycles because those cycles are going to be locked into you and so forth.”
Todd: So, I kind of chipped away at it over a long period time, but I’m a little more unique only because I was diving hard into this science and I was diving hard into how could I become a better person. And again, don’t get me wrong, I was not a bad person. I’m not mean to people. I mean, I’m a jovial type person in general, but I knew I could be better and so it was really just … and sometimes I’d find little short books and I’d get my kids to read or I’d find a positive video on YouTube and I’d get them to watch it. So it’s all you can do, but beware, just as it is extremely hard for us to change as adults because you’ve got to be aware of what you want to change, the same thing goes for teenagers. It’s extremely hard for them to change. Especially because it’s hard to be a prophet in your own land. When they’re little, they believe everything you say. As they get older, meh, not so much.
Joe: Well, Todd, it’s been a pleasure talking with you today. If listeners want to connect with you or learn more about your books, where should they go?
Todd: Maxrhymes.com. They can learn all about it. They can learn about the science behind our rhymes. They can see some samples on there. But, yeah, maxrhymes.com is the easiest place to learn about us.
Joe: Well, thank you again for sharing your experience with us as a twin dad and some of this research that you’ve found has been very fascinating as we morph our parenting to adapt to the needs of our children. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Todd: Okay, Joe, I appreciate having you. Thank you.
Joe: I hope you enjoyed that chat with Todd and I hope it gives you like a light at the end of the tunnel if you’re struggling through pregnancy or those early months with twins. Yes, you can survive twins. You know, Todd’s got 20-year-old twins and he made it through that journey and you can, too.
If you want to learn more about the books that he and his wife have written, you can check out links to that in the show notes of this episode over at twindadpodcast.com.
And if the message we talked about of positive parenting and reinforcing the behavior you want to see in your children resonated with you, you may also want to check out another podcast I’ve done with Carol Tuttle. That’s podcast episode 104, about becoming a twin parenting child whisperer and getting the children to focus on the behaviors that you would like to see and a link to that in the show notes, as well.
Joe: Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.
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