For some time I’ve been wondering whether I am the only twin parent who has to handle seemingly never-ending squabbles between my boy and girl twins.
It started pretty early. I cannot say exactly when, but it started with tandem breastfeeding, then feeding bottles, and now at 2, it’s almost everything!
From what I’ve gathered from other multiple parents, this seems to be a common problem. While most twins get along, there are always those moments of tension when they are mad at each other and pretty much ready to tear each other’s hair apart.
Twins fights can get intense and as a parent, it is best to always look out for them and to take appropriate action before it gets worse.
Why the Fights?
You will notice, just like other siblings, twins fight for the most obscure reasons. It could be a toy that they both love, over being pushed and in most cases over a parent’s attention.
The fights start early when they are toddlers and can go on as they grow.
How they fight varies. It could be through pushing, biting, scratching, pulling each other and even throwing things at each other.
According to experts sibling rivalry is a normal part of growing up, especially amongst younger children, but it goes down with age as they learn to communicate better and negotiate for what they want. However, sibling aggression can cross the line and parents should address this by seeking help.
There are various strategies that can be used to manage conflict. But it is important to note that what may work in one family or situation may not work in another.
How to Handle Fighting Twins
When a fight happens, the first instinct as a parent is to ensure that none of the children is hurt. On dealing with the squabbles, it is important that you remain neutral at all times. This is because you do not want one twin thinking that they can easily get away with whatever they want, or the other thinking that you never support them.
While each situation is unique, here are some general rules that you can follow.
Acknowledge Their Feelings
As toddlers twins fight out of frustration as they are not able to communicate their feelings appropriately. This changes as they grow and continue to grasp their use of language.
When the siblings fight, it is best to acknowledge both of their feelings.
Condemn the bad behaviour but not the child.
Help the twins calm down and if they are able to speak for themselves, let them communicate their behaviour and once they are done, discuss alternative reactions they would have taken.
For example, if they were fighting over a toy, let them know the values of sharing, or kindly requesting for something as opposed to simply grabbing things from each other.
Remember to be fair. Showing favoritism may only lead to the aggravation of bad behaviour.
Get Rid of the Triggers
If the cause of the fights is something that you can easily get rid of then do it. You may be aware of toys that could lead to fights. Ensure that you are watching over them when they are around such items so that they are able to share. If there are no changes, you might want to hold on to specific items until they understand that you are withholding them because of their inability to share and solve their differences amicably.
Alternatively, get distinct toys from stores such as Toy Shaven 254 which offer a wide array of unique gifts.
If they keep fighting over each other’s items then colour coding or labeling the items that each twin loves could also be a way around it. Ultimately, they will outgrow such and will soon learn how to share.
Warn Them of the Consequences
Sometimes when kids hit each other or bite each other, they are unaware of what could happen if one gets hurt. As a parent, it is your responsibility to teach them the consequences of such actions, which mostly are spurred by anger.
Teach them from a young age that there is a cause and effect for every action. Deep down, twins have a connection and are not willing to see the other hurt. They will know when they’ve gone overboard.
Another way to warn twins is to let them know that you won’t always be available to solve their problems and that they have to be able to solve their own conflicts.
Children learn from imitating their role models. And who best be a role model than their parents? In the midst of all their turmoil, while you feel like you want to kick them out, try as much as possible to remain calm. Shouting or yelling at them may only worsen the situation. Teach them to resolve their situations by stepping out for a moment and letting them be on their own. Soon enough they will learn.
Take Them Out for a While
One of the best ways that I’ve realized actually works for my toddlers is embracing the outdoors. Once we step into a new environment they are good as new. What I love about the outdoors is that it presents so many positive distractions that help them get rid of all the negative energy. They are able to calm down and focus on other things such as enjoying nature or playing with their friends. By the time we step back to the house, they have gotten rid of all the excess energy and their mood is at another level of good.
There is a need to set expectations between twin siblings as a way to cope with rivalry. Let them know that as parents, you expect them to treat their siblings with respect. While it sounds easy, you are going to have to be a role model. Avoid fighting with others in front of your kids.
Sibling rivalry is mostly a normal part of growing up. As a parent, act as a mediator when necessary but let your twins learn to resolve their differences. Do not forget to be fair at all times.