Do your twins squabble and fight or do they generally play well together? As with all siblings there is a certain amount of sibling rivalry and with twins this is no different and at times it can be worse.
Twins do share a close bond but this doesn’t stop them from squabbling and arguing over their toys, clothes and your attention from time to time.
You may find their competitiveness is greater if they are twins of the same sex opposed to boy/girl twins. It is likely that two boys or two girls will want very similar toys to play with and are likely to compete over similar things.
Twins are at the same developmental stage which can also cause more squabbling as they are learning their life lessons and boundaries at the very same time. It is extremely important that parents of twins, grandparents of twins and anyone else caring for your twins have the same rules so your twins do not become confused. If you are consistent with your rules your twins will learn them that much faster.
Set limits and boundaries and limit their choices. Too many choices can cause confusion and often more trouble and squabbling than is necessary so don’t ask them to make too many decisions that they are just simply not capable of making.
If you want to encourage them to make choices keep them very simple for e.g. do you want to wear the spotty dress or the striped dress? If your twins are prone to wanting exactly the same thing and will fight over the same dress then do not give them the choice and leave those decisions for another stage.
Twins will fight over the same toy particularly as I have said before if they are two of the same sex. There is no point buying one toy and expecting your twins to share it nicely, it’s not going to happen. At the same time you don’t want to buy two of everything the same. Slight variations on toys in the form of colour or activity can save some of the squabbling and you can encourage them to swap over.
Likewise, if there are too many toys around they will become overwhelmed and will ultimately play with nothing. Rather than getting all of the toys out in the toy room strategically place toys that will attract their attention and encourage play.
If your twins are tired or hungry then the squabbling can become worse. Twins will take their frustrations out on one another and even more so if they are tired and irritable. If your twins still need a nap make sure they get one.
My Own Experiences with Twins
I have girl/boy fraternal twins aged 7 and identical twin girls aged 2. We are currently going through the learn to share stage with the girls and just as one twin lashes out at the other for stealing her dolly I find myself thinking back to life with the fraternal twins at the same age. I know we are good at forgetting the bad times and remembering the good times but I honestly do not recall my boy/girl twins displaying the same level of squabbling and hurting one another that the identical girls do.
Our Fraternal twins were typical toddlers and our identical twin girls are not in need of a visit from Super Nanny or anything like that but there is a difference in their behaviour. I think the difference is largely due to the difference in the types of twins. There is more natural competition with the identical girls and this is not because we treat them as the same person. We do everything we can to help their individuality but they do seem to want to compete over the same things.
Another difference I have noticed with raising our two different sets of twins is the different needs for naps and how fractious the girls become if they don’t get their sleep. The routine for our identical twins is much different than the routine we had for the fraternal twins. For a start, we have school runs now so the girls are up far earlier than the others needed to be. We are generally more in a rush as a family than we were before.
There have been days recently whereby the girls have not had a nap because of an outing or having friends to play and they have managed to play all day quite happily but when the day is done and it’s almost time for tea the mood changes and all hell can break loose.
They do take their frustrations out on one another especially when they are tired. When we are in this state it makes it very difficult for me to even prepare the dinner. We rely on the bigger twins to comfort a smaller twin each in a restful setting in front of the TV in order that dinner can be prepared.
This brings me to the next thing that seems to trigger the squabbling – food! It is quite amusing to watch them at the dinner table. Twin A will steal something from Twin B’s plate yet think she has got away with it and then a few minutes later completely out of the blue Twin B will get her own back by retaliating in another way. It could be by taking her sisters cutlery away or by just bopping her on the head with her fork. Of course Twin A has forgotten that she stole her sister’s food and is upset by Twin B’s revenge! Now we have upset and chaos at the table. Our solution starting this evening is to separate their seating places until they are able to manage themselves a little better at the table.
Similar episodes of nonsense as we like to call it happen over sharing toys and books especially if it is something new. We learned with our first set of twins that you can’t give one without the other although we do try and buy two of different colours or type. If Twin A is playing nicely and Twin B decides to steal there is uproar. Often Twin A will retaliate with a hit or with a Bite. Obviously the Twin who has administered the Bite will be told firmly NO and we use the naughty step and she has to apologise but its frustrating because we know and she knows that she has done it purely out of retaliation to the wrong that her Twin as done to her. Often they don’t want to apologise to one another.
If we are all playing together then I will only get one type of toy out at a time such as the farm set and when they have lost interest in that toy we tidy it away and get another out. I hope that this helps in teaching them to play nicely with more than one person and the importance of sharing and the responsibility of looking after their possessions.
We have issues such as “going first”. They nearly always both want to “go first” and you have to find a fair way of choosing. At 2 they don’t always remember who went first the last time! Many of the techniques we adopt are all about keeping the peace. It’s all too easy to give in to the more demanding twin as we found with raising our fraternal twins so we are conscious that we don’t allow this to happen too often.
We have far less squabbles when we are out in open spaces including the garden. I think the girls need space from another at times and often when we go for a visit to the farm they do go in separate directions to play.
The most obvious reason for competing is for our attention. It’s OK to mange at home because you can sit down on the sofa in between them and share a book or watch the TV together but it’s not so easy when you are out and they both want to be carried or both want help to climb up a particular difficult construction!
All in all, toddler twins can be a real drain your sanity but they are also lots and lots of fun and watching them interact and develop alongside one another is truly fascinating.
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