Saturday, March 27, 2010
A frequent question about childhood behavior is how to handle separations when the child clearly doesn't want Mom or Dad to go. Separation anxiety is a normal developmental process, but sometimes it can represent a failure of normal development. How do you tell the difference?
Separation anxiety usually appears between 6 and 8 months of age. The smiling infant who would happily be passed from lap to lap at the family reunion just a few months before, now becomes visibly anxious and fretful when Mom or Dad hands him off to someone else. Unfortunately, this is often the age when Mom and Dad want to be able to leave the baby with a sitter for a night out!
The onset and resolution of separation anxiety requires the achievement of three developmental milestones: attachment to a care giver, realization of object permanence, and development of trust. Here's how this works: a 6 month old infant is not “spoiled” just because she cries when Mom leaves the room or is handed to someone else. Instead, her crying represents her developing sense of attachment to her Mom and Dad. (I used the terms “Mom” and “Dad,” but I really mean whoever is the primary care giver.) If she did not have a sense of attachment, she would not be concerned when they left the room.
On the other hand, until the infant develops the realization that Mom and Dad are permanent figures, known as object permanence in developmental terminology, she will continue to cry or fuss when she cannot see them. She does not know that just because she cannot see them doesn't mean they have ceased to exist. She cries when they leave because she's attached to them (that is she loves to be with them - they are her favorite things) but, she thinks they have vanished because she cannot see them. Finally, she must learn that Mom and Dad will return and will love her still even after they have been gone.
Although separation anxiety shows up between ages 6 and 8 months and object permanence appears roughly at 9 to 10 months, separation anxiety may take until age 2 to 3 years to finally peter out. As in much of infant development, the child's temperament plays a role. A child who adapts to new situations easily will probably have less anxiety than the child who has a difficult time with change.
Parents can help their children with separation anxiety by making sure that any temporary care giver is a familiar figure. This may mean having the sitter come over and visit while the parent is still there before attempting a night out. It may mean bringing the child to daycare and planning on staying with the child the first day and leaving together, then trying a brief stay the second day without the parent, gradually increasing the time the child is left with the substitute care giver. It means leaving with clear reassurances that Mom and Dad will return at a certain time. It also means recognizing that some anxiety is normal.
When does separation anxiety become abnormal? This occurs when the child has reached an age when these three development milestones should have been completed, but the child is still having excessive anxiety upon separation. This is known as separation anxiety disorder.
This can happen for a couple of reasons: failure to form a secure attachment to a care giver or repeated disruptions to that attachment from outside influences such as hospitalization or jail or travel. Another risk factor for separation anxiety disorder is a history of anxiety disorder in the parent. Some signs in the child can be
* recurrent excessive distress when separated
* excessive worry about harm occurring to the major attachment figure (e.g., Mom or Dad)
* reluctance to go anywhere without the major attachment figure
* reluctance to be alone
* reluctance to sleep away
* repeated nightmares with the theme of separation
* vague complaints of physical symptoms like stomachaches or headaches that occur in anticipation of a separation from the attachment figure.
Although even children without this disorder can occasionally express what seems like excessive worry or concern about a parent or other care giver, children with this disorder have these symptoms for at least 4 weeks and have impairment of normal functioning such as not being able to attend school or be left with a sitter. The treatment includes behavioral therapy, play therapy, and desensitization. Occasionally, medication can help reduce feelings of anxiety. If you think your child shows excessive anxiety with separation, inappropriate for her age, talk to your pediatrician about getting help.
by Barb Durso, MD
Posted by Fang Jui, T3
INFANTS AS SOCIAL BEINGS
Breakthroughs in methodology for assessing infants' perceptual abilities have shown that even newborns are quite perceptive, active, and responsive during physical and social interaction. The newborn infant will imitate people, stick out its tongue, flutter its eyelashes, and open and close its mouth in response to similar actions from an adult or older child. Through crying and other distress sounds, the infant signals physical needs for food, warmth, safety, touch, and comfort.
Infants' physical requirements are best met when delivered along with social contact and interaction. Babies who lack human interaction may "fail to thrive." Such infants will fail to gain sufficient weight and will become indifferent, listless, withdrawn and/or depressed, and in some cases will not survive (Clarke-Stewart and Koch, 1983).
Increasingly, an infant will engage in social exchanges by a "reciprocal matching" process in which both the infant and adult attempt to match or copy each other by approximation of each other's gaze, use of tongue, sounds, and smiles. Bruner (1978) and others have proposed that these social interaction processes, which continually undergo development, also constitute a "fine tuning" system for the child's language and cognitive development.
FAMILY ATTACHMENT SYSTEMS
It is important for infants to maintain close relationships with one or more adults. Typically, one adult is the mother, but others may be fathers, older siblings, or family friends. The smiling and laughing of an infant become responses to different types of social stimulation and objects provided by specific persons (Goldbert, 1982). A growing bonding attachment, marked by strong mutual affect, with at least one particular adult, is critical to the child's welfare and social-emotional development.
Attachment, evident within six to nine months, becomes obvious when the infant shows distress as the mother (or other attachment figure) departs from a setting. Infants and toddlers who are "securely attached" are affectionate and tend not to cling to their mothers, but to explore the surrounding physical and social environment from this "secure base," showing interest in others and sharing their explorations with the mother by pointing and bringing objects of interest.
The socialization of the child is facilitated not only by the parents, but also within the family context, which may include relatives and friends who support the parents and children, and further reinforce cultural values. Studies by Baumrind (1973) and others have demonstrated that, as children develop, parents use different methods of control or leadership styles in family management that fall into fairly predictable categories:
--authoritarian (high control) --authoritative (authority through having knowledge and providing direction) --permissive (low control or direction) --combinations of the above
Some cultural groups tend to prefer one or the other of these styles, each of which encourages and controls different patterns of behavior in children. Mothers who are more verbal in their influence on children's actions have been found to use "benign" instructive direction that appears to result in the child having greater social competence at home, with peers, and in school settings.
As a toddler, the child moves in peer contexts which provide opportunities for learning to sustain interaction and develop understanding of others. Piaget (l932) pointed to peer interaction as one major source of cognitive as well as social development, particularly for the development of role-taking and empathy. In the contexts of school, neighborhood, and home, children learn to discriminate among different types of peer relationships--best friends, social friends, activity partners, acquaintances, and strangers (Oden, l987). Through building and sustaining different types of peer relationships and social experiences, especially peer conflict, children acquire knowledge of the self versus other and a range of social interaction skills. Mixed-age peer interaction also contributes to the social-cognitive and language development of the younger child while enhancing the instructive abilities of the older child (Hartup, 1983).
Children's social-cognitive development, including moral judgment, appears to parallel cognitive development as children's perceptions of relationships, peers, and social situations become more abstract and less egocentric. Preschoolers are less able to differentiate between best friends and friends than are elementary school-age children. But young children can provide specific reasons why they do not like to interact with certain peers. From six to 14 years of age, children shift their views of friendship relationships from sharing of physical activities to sharing of materials, being kind or helpful, and, eventually, perceiving friendships that allow individuality to be expressed or supported (Berndt, 1981.)
LIMITING FACTORS IN SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
A child's connection with a given family, neighborhood, center, or school may limit opportunities for social development. Mixed age, sex, racial, or cultural peer interactions may be infrequent and highly bound by activity differences and early learned expectations, thereby limiting the extent of diversity in peer interaction. This lack of diversity limits the child's ability to be socially competent in various circumstances (Ramsey, 1986).
Formally structured educational situations, built around teacher-group interaction, tend to result in fewer peer interactions than less formal settings. Fewer socially isolated children are found in informal classrooms where activities are built around projects in which peers can establish skills for collaboration and activity partnership (Hallinan, 1981).
The long term benefits of positive peer interactions and relationships have been shown in a number of studies (Oden, 1986). Greater social adjustment in high school and adulthood has been observed for people who at 9 or 10 years of age were judged to be modestly to well accepted by peers. Poor peer acceptance results in fewer peer experiences, few of which are positive, thus creating a vicious cycle of peer rejection.
Various instructional approaches and experiences related to social skills development have proved effective in increasing children's social competence. Coaching, modeling, reinforcement, and peer pairing are methods based on the same learning processes evident in early adult-child relations. With these methods, social-cognitive and behavioral skills can be developed which can provide poorly accepted peers with the ability to break the cycle of peer rejection. Children appear to learn how to more competently assess peer norms, values, and expectations and to select actions that may bring them within the "threshold of peer acceptance" (Oden, 1987).
Societal factors also affect children's social development. Stressed families and those with little time for interaction with children have become a focus of research as divorce rates have risen. Poverty conditions undermine opportunities for children's positive development. Further investigation is needed on the linkage between child development and social factors.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Baumrind, D. "Development of Instrumental Competence through Socialization." In MINNESOTA SYMPOSIUM OF CHILD PSYCHOLOGY, Vol. 7, edited by A.D. Pick. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, l973.
Berndt, T.J. "Relations between Social Cognition, Nonsocial Cognition, and Social Behaviors: The Case of Friendship." In SOCIAL COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT, edited by J.H. Flavell & L. Ross. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
Bruner, J.S. "From Cognition to Language: A Psychological Perspective." In THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF LANGUAGE, edited by I. Markova. New York: Wiley & Sons, 1978.
Clarke-Stewart, A. and Koch, J.B. CHILDREN: DEVELOPMENT THROUGH ADOLESCENCE. New York: Wiley & Sons, 1983.
Goldberg, S. "Some Biological Aspects of Early Parent-Infant Stimulation." In THE YOUNG CHILD: REVIEWS OF RESEARCH, edited by S.G. Moore & C.R. Cooper. Washington: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1982.
Hallinan, M.T. "Recent Advances in Sociometry." In THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN'S FRIENDSHIPS, edited by S.R. Asher & J.M. Gottman. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
Hartup, W.W. "Peer Relations." In HANDBOOK OF CHILD PSYCHOLOGY. SOCIALIZATION, PERSONALITY, AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, edited by E.M. Hetherington. New York: Wiley & Sons, 1983.
Oden, S. "Alternative Perspectives in Children's Peer Relationships." In INTEGRATIVE PROCESSES AND SOCIALIZATION: EARLY TO MIDDLE CHILDHOOD, edited by T.D. Yawkey and J.E. Johnson. Elmsford, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum, Inc., 1987.
Piaget, J. MORAL JUDGMENT OF THE CHILD. London: Kegan Paul, 1932.
Ramsey, P.G. TEACHING AND LEARNING IN A DIVERSE WORLD. New York: Teacher's College Press, 1986.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education Urbana IL
Posted by Fang Jui, T3
please show a good example to your children.. don't think they wasn't looking on everything that you're doing.
Credits to Teo Hsiao Hui, t3
THE arrival of another baby is great news to you and your spouse. To the both of you, this new addition represents more happiness and joy, but to your first child, this may bring about a lot of uncertainties.
Some children may feel abandoned now that they are no longer the centre of attention and regress to an earlier stage where they are more dependent on their parents. Others may delight in the role of an older sibling and welcome the new arrival joyously.
There is no way to tell how your child might react as he or she may be dealing with a wide range of emotions. However, as parents, you want things to run smoothly between your older child and his new younger sibling. Therefore, it is essential for you to know what you can do to maintain harmony between the siblings.
Preparation is key. Your child will probably need some time to adapt to the idea that he or she is no longer the only child in the family. Also, your child will probably take a while to adjust to the changes that will occur. So, the sooner your older child knows about the arrival of his new sibling, the more time you will have to help him prepare for the new sibling. To help your child adjust, ensure that before the baby arrives, you:
·Inform him about his new sibling. The earlier you let him know, the more time you have to prepare him for the arrival of the new sibling. This will also be an excellent opportunity for you to talk to him and excite him about his new role. Encourage him to ask questions and use the questions as a guide to help you clarify his doubts.
·Involve him in preparations to welcome the new baby. You may decorate the newborn’s room together and pick potential baby names together. Make him feel like part of the process.
Most importantly, involving him also sends the message that he is and will always be part of the family and the addition of a new baby will not “demote” his position in the family.
·Share your experience with him. Talk to your toddler about how he was when he was a baby and how proud you are of how much he has accomplished since then. You may also bring him along to your monthly check-ups. This gives him the opportunity to learn about and witness the progression of his new sibling. You would be surprised how the sound of the foetal heartbeat can excite your child and change his feelings.
·Explain to him what will happen when the new baby arrives. Let them know beforehand that you may be tired most of the time and the baby will most probably be the centre of attention because he requires extra care. Also, let him know that the baby will not do much at first except eat, sleep, and cry. Giving him a realistic idea will reduce the shock when it happens.
While you may have fully prepared your older child before the birth of your new baby, his behavior may change drastically when the baby arrives. This is common, as children do not know how to control their feelings or articulate their thoughts accurately yet.
Thus, when he sees that his family members are paying more attention to the new baby instead of him, he may act out in such a way that demands your notice. Don’t fret, as your child just needs some time to adjust.
·Let him be mommy’s helper. Get him involved in the care of your new arrival. For instance, ask him to hand you the diapers while you are changing the baby or keep an eye on the baby whilst you use the bathroom. His involvement will make him feel that he still matters to you.
·Ask for his opinion. Ease him into the older brother or sister role by having him help you make decisions about the baby. For example, when choosing outfits for the new baby, let him choose what colour he wants his baby brother or sister to wear.
·Listen to his feelings. Your older child will get frustrated at times, especially when you are unable to spend time with him (eg when you’re nursing your baby but he wants to play cars with you). When a situation like that occurs, acknowledge his feelings. Let him know that you are aware of his disappointment, and that you want to make it up to him later.
·Spend one-on-one time. When your baby is sleeping, spend time with your older child. In fact, let your partner or a family member take care of the baby if you need to. Spending one-on-one time will make him feel special and loved and also give you the opportunity to watch your toddler grow.
·Praise him. Shower your older child with praises each time you see him showing interest in his younger sibling or when he helps you take care of the baby. Believe it or not, praises that come with hugs and kisses can go a long way. However, while positive reinforcement is good, don’t overdo it. You do not want him to think that your love is dependent on how much he loves his younger sibling.
Don’t push the baby on him
If your child does not want to get involved with the baby, do not be alarmed. It is common for him to be feeling this way. The “ignoring the baby” phase is usually temporary. Therefore, it is best not to force your child to be involved. He will come around in time.
Undeniably, having a new member in the family will be one of the first and biggest changes in your firstborn’s young life. Not only will there be an additional person in the house, the balance and routine that your firstborn is familiar with will be disrupted. So, be patient as your little one figures out his “new” life and always remember to show him that he is loved and needed in the family.
Dr Goh Chee Leong is a psychologist. This article is courtesy of the Malaysian Paediatric Association’s Positive Parenting Programme. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
@Credits to : Peh Boon Kuan, T2
The basic feeling of shyness is universal, and may have evolved as an adaptive mechanism used to help individuals cope with novel social stimuli. Shyness is felt as a mix of emotions, including fear and interest, tension and pleasantness. Increase in heart rate and blood pressure may occur. An observer recognizes shyness by an averted, downward gaze and physical and verbal reticence. The shy person's speech is often soft, tremulous, or hesitant. Younger children may suck their thumbs: some act coy, alternately smiling and pulling away.
Shyness is distinguishable from two related behavior patterns; wariness and social disengagement. Infant wariness of strangers lacks the ambivalent approach/avoidance quality that characterizes shyness. Some older children may prefer solitary play and appear to have low needs for social interaction, but experience none of the tension of the genuinely shy child.
Children may be vulnerable to shyness at particular developmental points. Fearful shyness in response to new adults emerges in infancy. Cognitive advances in self-awareness bring greater social sensitivity in the second year. Self-conscious shyness-the possibility of embarrassment-appears at 4 or 5. Early adolescence ushers in a peak of self-consciousness.
What Situations Make Children Feel Shy?
Some children are dispositionally shy: they are more likely than other children to react to new social situations with shy behavior. Even these children, however, may show shyness only in certain kinds of social encounters. Researchers have implicated both nurture and nature in these individual differences.
Some aspects of shyness are learned. Children's cultural background and family environment offer models of social behavior. Chinese children in day care have been found to be more socially reticent than Caucasians, and Swedish children report more social discomfort than Americans. Some parents, by labeling their children as shy, appear to encourage a self- fulfilling prophecy, Adults may cajole coyly shy children into social interaction, thus reinforcing shy behavior.
There is growing evidence of a hereditary or temperamental basis for some variations of dispositional shyness. In fact, heredity may play a larger part in shyness than in any other personality trait. Adoption studies can predict shyness in adopted children from the biological mother's sociability. Extremely inhibited children show physiological differences from uninhibited children, including higher and more stable heart rates. From ages 2 to 5, the most inhibited children continue to show reticent behavior with new peers and adults. Patterns of social passivity or inhibition are remarkably consistent in longitudinal studies of personality development.
Despite this evidence, most researchers emphasize that genetic influences probably account for only a small proportion of self-labeled shyness. Even hereditary predispositions can be modified. Adopted children do acquire some of the adoptive parents' social styles, and extremely inhibited toddlers sometimes become more socially comfortable through their parents' efforts.
When Is Shyness a Problem?
Strategies for Helping a Shy Child
Know and Accept the Whole Child. Being sensitive to the child's interests and feelings will allow you to build a relationship with the child and show that you respect the child. This can make the child more confident and less inhibited.
Build Self-Esteem. Shy children may have negative self-images and feel that they will not be accepted. Reinforce shy children for demonstrating skills and encourage their autonomy. Praise them often. "Children who feel good about themselves are not likely to be shy".
Develop Social Skills. Reinforce shy children for social behavior, even if it is only parallel play. One psychologist recommends teaching children "social skill words" ("Can I play, too?") and role playing social entry techniques. Also, opportunities for play with young children in one-on-0one situations may allow shy children to become more assertive. Play with new groups of peers permits shy children to make a fresh start and achieve a higher peer status.
Allow the Shy Child to Warm Up to New Situations. Pushing a child into a situation which he or she sees as threatening is not likely to help the child build social skill. Help the child feel secure and provide interesting materials to lure him or her into social interactions.
Friday, March 26, 2010
The research appears in a special focus issue of the journal Chaos, which is published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP). The special issue is focused on nonlinear dynamics in cognitive and neural systems. It asks how chaos affects certain brain areas and presents interdisciplinary approaches to various problems in neuroscience -- including sleep.
Directly measuring the brain activity of a human fetus in the womb is impossible. What we know about our early sleep habits comes mostly from watching eye movements. Around the seventh month of a fetus' development, the first rapid eye movements are seen. The brain of the developing embryo appears to cycle every 20 to 40 minutes between REM sleep, in which brain activity rivals that of consciousness, and non-REM sleep, in which the brain rests. The functions of these sleep cycles are still a hotly debated topic in the world of sleep research.
Some have tried to measure the brain activity of premature babies by hooking them up to an electroencephogram (EEG) after they are born early. These measurements, according to Schwab, are technically difficult and fraught with errors. So neurologists who study the development of the fetal brain do not know whether sleep cycles simply appear one day, or whether they develop slowly from other forms of brain activity.
To fill this gap in knowledge, Schwab studied sheep, an animal that typically carries one or two fetuses similar in size and weight to a human fetus. The course of brain development is also fairly similar in humans and sheep, lasting about 280 days in humans and 150 days in sheep. They recorded electrical activity in the brain of a 106-day-old developing sheep fetus directly -- something that had never been done before.
Using sophisticated mathematical techniques for detecting patterns, Schwab discovered cycles in the complexity of immature brain activity. Unlike sleep patterns in later stages of development, these cycles fluctuate every 5 to 10 minutes and change slowly as the fetus grows.
While it is difficult to imagine what the fetus experiences during these cycles in terms familiar to adults, the patterns shed new light on the origins of sleep. "Sleep does not suddenly evolve from a resting brain. Sleep and sleep state changes are active regulated processes," says Schwab. The finding fits with other data showing that the brain cells (neurons) that generate sleep states mature long before the rest of the brain is developed enough to fall into REM sleep.
A better understanding of brain development could provide clues about diseases later in life, like neurological disorders or crib death. The research may also shed light on fundamental questions about how the brain develops. Cyclic changes in the activity of neurons, for instance, may stimulate the other nerve cells to find and connect with each other to set up complex networks in the brain. Sophisticated analyses of brain activity could help detect vulnerable phases during this brain development. Other avenues of Schwab's research look at the impact of environmental stimuli such as noise or stress on the developing fetus and whether they can lead to an increased susceptibility to disease in adults.
Source: American Institute of Physics
April 13, 2009
Posted by Siew Hong, T3
My baby is seven weeks old and nurses every two to three hours during the day. He is a big baby and gaining weight well. He has started sleeping about five hours at night, however it is from 9pm to 2am. How can I get him to sleep longer or from 11pm to 4am?
You are one of those envied moms whose breastfeeding baby is actually sleeping through the night -- and at only seven weeks of age. Basically, you would like to adjust the hours that your baby spends asleep.Changing a baby's sleep cycles is not always easy. Try these 6 strategies:
1. Nurse frequently. Babies should be nursed at least 8 to 12 times every day. To encourage your baby to go to sleep later, try increasing your frequency of nursing during the day and early evening. It is common for babies of this age to cluster feed in the evening.This may help to provide the nutrition they need to carry them through the night.
2. Allow your baby to finish the first breast. This will provide more of your rich hind milk, which may also help your baby to space out nighttime feeds.
3. Carry him. Carrying your baby in between feedings (with the aid of a sling) may help to keep your baby relaxed during the early evening hours, and will encourage him to remain awake to participate with the family.
4. Gradually stretch out the time that he is awake. By bathing him and playing with him in the evening you can help to gradually adjust his sleep cycle.
5. Nurse your baby back to sleep. If your baby falls asleep a couple of hours before you go to bed, you could try quietly nursing him at that time. Most babies will nurse for a while and then drift back off to sleep.
6. Nurse in quiet, darkened room. If your baby wakes at night to nurse, encourage him to return to sleep by nursing in a darkened room. Unless your baby has had a bowel movement or has a rash on his bottom, it is unnecessary to change his diaper in the middle of the night.
My best wishes in mothering!
Read More http://parenting.ivillage.com/baby/bsleep/0,,40wb,00.html#ixzz0jIMWNu5m
Posted by Siew Hong, T3
Brooklyn mom expecting her third set of twins says, 'God blessed me!' Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2010/03/11/2010-03-11_t
BY Edgar Sandoval
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Originally Published:Wednesday, March 10th 2010, 11:16 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 11th 2010, 12:46 PM
Gezime Amer with her 12-year-old twin boys Abdulah (top left) and Rahman (top right) and 10-year-old twin girls Zenebe (bottom left) and Kerima (bottom right) at their hom in Brooklyn.
Gezime Amer with her 12-year-old twin boys Abdulah (top left) and Rahman (top right) and 10-year-old twin girls Zenebe (bottom left) and Kerima (bottom right) at their hom in Brooklyn.
* British woman gives birth to twin boys after 25 years of IVF treatments
* Hero cat 'Baby' saves owners from fierce house fire
* Oldest conjoined twins, 58-year-old Donnie and Ronnie Galyon, in declining health
Her luck comes in pairs. Brooklyn mom Gezime Amer felt blessed when she gave birth to twin boys 12 years ago.
Two years later, she gave birth to twin girls.
Now she is six months pregnant with, you guessed it, twins!
"God blessed me with the genes to have twins," said the elated Sheepshead Bay mom. "They came to me all natural, too."
Amer's gynecologist, Ayman Shahine, said he's never come across a mom so genetically prone to twins - identical or fraternal - in his 20 years of practice.
"Her genes are like that," Shahine said of Amer's twins, who are all fraternal.
"When she had her first twins, she was scared. Then she had two girls and she could not believe it. Now, she's an expert."
Only 15 out of 26,000 members of the National Organization of Mothers of Twins have reported giving birth to several sets of twins.
"It is rare, but multiple births do happen," said Pam Krell, executive vice president of the group. "An extra baby means extra joy."
Amer, 37, couldn't agree more - even though she admits the extra babies also mean extra work and extra expense.
McDonald's is reserved for special occasions. Her husband, Adel, works six days a week as a $32,000-a-year hardware store manager.
"We teach them that we may not have a lot, but we have each other," his wife said. "Blood is thicker than water."
On a recent afternoon, the home bustled with activity.
Abdulah and Rahman, 12, played trombones while sisters Kerima and Zenebe, 10, fed their fighting twin pit bulls, Hershey and Blue.
Mom took the hubbub in stride, hoping to keep her stress level down for the sake of the two unborn boys.
"I don't want them to come early, like my first ones," she said. "I'm just worried I won't have everything they need before they are born."
She said that the first time she found out she was carrying twins, she didn't believe it. "I cried. I was hysterical," she said.
Hoping for a girl the next time, the couple got their wish - and then some.
"The doctor said 'You are having more twins, girls this time,'" Gezime Amer said. "I said, 'Are you sure?' No one in my family has twins."
As her late 30s approached, Gezime Amer decided to have one more child before she turned 40. Once again, she was stunned to learn the pregnancy was another twofer.
"I did not even know I had the twin gene," she said.
Her older kids said they can't wait for the new arrivals and can school them in the ways of twindom.
"We are very close. We go everywhere but the bathroom [together]," Rahman said of him and his brother.
"When you are [a] twin, you know someone always has your back," said Kerima. "You know you'll never be alone."
Posted by Siew Hong, T3