Twins fight, just as singleton siblings do. The difference, however, lies in the tendency to compare the pair. Regardless of zygosity-whether or not the twins are identical or fraternal-people want weigh in on who is the “good” twin and the “bad” twin. Research teams at the University of Wisconsin and at Virginia Commonwealth University support that such comparisons can exacerbate sibling rivalry between twins.
Why Twins Fight
Twins fight for the same reasons other siblings fight. As toddlers, they vie for individual parental attention and fight over toys. At age two, our fraternal twin boys held “lap races” to get to Daddy or Mommy first. This competitiveness follows twins to preschool as each child’s individual learning styles-or difficulties-become more apparent. One comes home waving a sheet of reward stickers and laughing at his brother’s single reward. As twins get older, their interests include grades, sports and friends. And-again-competition and jealousy arise when one twin is “better” than the other at one or more of these areas. One of our boys started out with minor developmental, social and learning delays. His twin is very capable of pointing out his “superiority,” especially in sports.
Keeping It to a Dull Roar
Avoid the label. From birth, use the twins’ names and not “the twins.” My husband and I do this for our boys– twins whose similarities end at gender and eye color (green).
Encourage individuality. Give each twin “alone time” with you. As they grow older, delight in the differences. This means a lot of miles in the minivan. Our boys are involved in shared activities, such as the school chorus and the local swim team, but both have distinct interests. One is a visual artist who enjoys playing the alto sax in the school band. His brother loves handheld games and is learning how to bowl.
Cut the comparisons at home. A “hey, clear the dishes before you ride your bike” works better than a “your brother already took out the trash. Clear the dishes off the table!”
Support the team. Your family, whatever its makeup, is the team. Household harmony is a necessity. Modeling love and kindness will lead to fewer shouting matches and cut lips.
Children fight. Twins are no exception. When each child is secure in your love and attention, comparison is replaced by (more) cooperation.
National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, Inc., http://www.nomtc.org
Wisconsin Twin Research, University of Wisconsin
The Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry, Virginia Commonwealth University