Toddlers

Sibling Rivalry Solutions – Five Ways For Your Twins To Get Along


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Here is a post on sibling rivalry solutions and how we got to be searching for them in the first place. However, have I written this post a couple of weeks ago, you would have been reading quite a different story. Literally. 

Two weeks ago, my 30month old twins got along just fine. Shared toys. Comforted each other if one of them was crying. If I played with one, the other would happily busy himself/herself with another activity. 

Ah, the good old days!

Back to the present. With a bang. The sort that gives you a headache, that is. 

Wow, the amount of crying, whining, demanding, grabbing, fighting, made me think I must be either hallucinating or participating in someone else’s life. Honestly, I did not see this coming and don’t I like it.

 I long for my lovely, calm, cooperating children to be back!

 

What Happened?!?

I’ve been thinking, what to do in order to fix this surprising situation; while praying for a miracle we might fly back in time when all was peaceful. 

Well, judging by the amount of screaming coming out of the children’s bedroom right now, that obviously didn’t happen! (no matter how hard I stare at the two of them)Sibling Rivalry Solutions

As I wrote and remembered the chain of events, in the last two weeks that might have contributed to the change of mood, one thing stood out: the twins had a cold the week before. Sore throats, runny noses – the works. 

My little girl got sick first and a couple of days later her brother too. Since I am a stay at home mom, they get quite a lot of my attention, but when they are poorly, I, of course, try to keep them even more comfortable. 

This, at the times like these, involves a lot of abiding by their orders: “Carry!”; “Carry more!”; “Carry me!”; “No, carry me!”…etc you get the gist… (and if you have twins or multiples yourself, you know exactly what I mean!)

Why is this significant? 

Well, my son is more boisterous and demands more attention. My daughter, on the other hand, is super-independent and doesn’t cling to me throughout the day like he does. She likes the attention, but strictly on her terms and even though she doesn’t speak much, is very good at communicating her wishes. Sibling Rivalry Solutions

That all changed the day she got her cold. All of a sudden she was very needy and would not let me put her down or leave her sight. I think this is very reasonable since she was feeling unwell and wanted comfort.

Her brother, not surprisingly, very much protested over this. Started acting up, even coughing when he so clearly didn’t need to (very cute!), dismissing his sister, which now, as I can see, has escalated into a full-blown sibling rivalry. 

It doesn’t help, my daughter has now decided, she, too, should be doing things with mama, not just by herself, and is not prepared to share like she used to. I am actually happy for her because I’ve always felt she was missing out. Glad to see she now stands up to her taller and more assertive brother. 

 

But, there is still only one of me, and I still only have two arms! 

 

The Causes Of Sibling Rivalry

 

We could say, twins have a double reason for rivalry: there is another sibling (just like in a different age siblings families) and they might be feeling the competition, but the second reason I find, even more convincing – twins search for their own individuality. 

Often in families with twins, there is a lot of comparison between the twins, yet, even though family members might remark and see how the two are different, they are still expected to do everything at the same time, the same place, with the same people. They go to the same kindergarten, same class at school, even play the same instrument. 

Twin children need to be given the chance to express their individuality whenever possible. I feel, twins should not wear the same clothes, even though, I understand the logic and the logistics behind it. Maybe it’s easier for me to feel this way because I have a girl and a boy, so wearing the same clothes isn’t an issue. 

Twins should also, be encouraged to have different groups friends. Now, this one is tricky if they attend the same kindergarten or school, but definitely worth a try. A bit of effort for a quite a bit of harmony in the house. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Sibling Rivalry Solutions

Twins, as any of us, like and need to feel their uniqueness, and not like two parts of one whole. As we go on commenting on the sameness or differences of a twin pair, we are comparing them to each other and invariably, talk like that is going to make one of them (or both) feel uneasy. Nobody longs to be compared to another person, no matter how close.

When (well-meaning, I’m sure) people do this to my twins, I either ignore the comments and change the subject or tell the person, I would prefer they wouldn’t talk about my children in that way.

I often get comments how my daughter is smaller than my son, and sometimes people openly challenge me and say they don’t believe me my children are twins! Usually, when I hear this I am stunned and at a loss of words as what to say!

If you have any witty/cool/sharp remarks I could arm myself and be ready for the next time this happens, please leave me a comment below. Thank you!

 

Sibling Rivalry Solutions

 

I’d say the No.1 thing that will improve the situation of the sibling rivalry is to value and treat our twins as individuals. Spending some alone time with each of the children has worked for us and improved our situation quite a bit. 

Banish (if at all possible) any sort of competition. It’s just not useful in any way. Actually, I’m sure there is always some amount of competition in everything the children might do together, so I feel there is no need to add more.

I’ve tried the following with my twins in the last week and it has worked a treat: high praise for good and cooperative behavior! They love it and are even replicating it because they know, now, that’s what gets my attention. Sibling Rivalry Solutions

At the same time I try, (oh how I try!) to stay calm and ignore their conflicts. 

I don’t wish to become the constant referee between them. This one is a bit more difficult because my twins are only two and a half, so reasoning is not always possible (if ever! 🙂 ). However, with children ages 4 and upwards, this really does work. 

While trying (if you need to) to resolve the conflict, it’s best to talk to the child who is behaving well and validate their feelings, offering some solutions for the ‘problem’ at hand. If possible, try to ignore the bad behavior of the other one, so attention is later sought by the good behavior. 

It is worth remembering: any attention, even bad attention is still – attention! 

 

Sibling Rivalry Solutions

1. Treat Twins as Individuals

2. Banish Competition

3. High Praise for Good Behaviour

4. In the Face of Conflict – Stay Calm

5. During Conflict, Direct Attention Towards the Child That Behaves Well

 

Conclusion

Sibling rivalry is, often, an unavoidable part of being a sibling. We might not always be able to stop the sibling rivalry, but we can definitely try to implement some of the sibling rivalry solutions outlined above. I have and I’m glad because my children seem to be more content and generally in the better mood. 

Giving our children tools in dealing with sometimes complex emotions of being a twin, will help them appreciate themselves and each other more and treat each other with respect, kindness, and love. 

 

 

How to Stop Sibling Rivalry

 

Thank you for reading this post.

 If you have any questions or topics you’d like me to write about, please do leave a comment in the comment section and I’d be more than happy to oblige!

Happy parenting!

 

 

 


14 thoughts on “Sibling Rivalry Solutions – Five Ways For Your Twins To Get Along

  1. Hi Alenka,

    I think you have found the right way to deal with the situation.
    Rewarding good behaviour is always going to achieve a lot more rather than trying to punish in any way. Trying to stay out of it when they are able to resolve it between themselves is even better, as you don’t give any attention (which many times is seen as a reward) to bad behaviour that way and won’t encourage more of it.
    It seems you are doing everything right. 🙂

    1. Dear Petra
      Thank you for your comment, and very glad you approve of my methods! One does try, but I would lie if I didn’t say it is not always easy. On the other hand, nobody ever said this parenting business was easy. Still, very rewarding and worth all the effort!
      Best,
      Alenka

  2. I love your post! Although I don’t have twins, I have 2 young boys that get along one minute, then with a flick of a switch, the claws come out. They have different needs as yours does. One is clingy and the other is the type when he wants to be left alone you know it.
    If I did have twins I would definitely take your advice and treat them as individuals, because they are and that’s how all children should be treated. They are going to be “expected” to be like one another their whole lives and if you start out treating them different, I think that will help them a lot. They will have a lot of pressure on them as it is.
    I wish you all the best in your parenting journey.

    1. Dear Kasey
      Thank you for your comment and very glad you agree with my outlook on twins’ individuality. Also, glad to hear I am not alone in dealing with the sibling rivalry, and your description ‘with a flick of a switch’ is just sooo spot on! Thank you for that, it made me smile :).
      Have a lovely day!
      Alenka

  3. Hi Alenka, I loved reading your article. I’m a mum of identical twin boys so I can really relate! I absolutely agree that remaining calm, and praising good behaviour are great ways handle difficult situations.
    Regarding dressing twins differently, this is a really tough one. When my boys were little I always dressed them differently. But as soon as they were old enough to choose their clothes, they always wanted the same. To this day they largely want to wear the same, or a colour variation of the same. This is 100% them and not me. They also want to stay in the same class, and they also have the same friends. This is all driven by them. They are 9 now. So I figure rhat their relationship is theirs and they will work it out!
    Anyway I loved reading your post, it brought back memories for me! I wish you all the very best 🙂

    1. Dear Melissa
      Thank you for your comment. Really interesting to read how your boys just gravitate towards the same things and how wonderful you let them! I agree there is no need in forcing this issue about doing the things separately or dress differently. It was really just a suggestion as maybe one of the tools for resolving some issues. If those issues are not there, then I believe, no need to complicate things. My twins are only toddlers, but already if one wears Paw Patrol character t-shirt, the other one has to as well; they both insist on it. I let them, have no heart to refuse them their little wishes :).
      All the best to you and your big boys!
      Alenka

  4. Really interesting post! Its fascinating to learn about how they develop their personalities individually and some are more extroverted while others are introverted. Theres no set way of going about it you just have to deal with the problems and come up with solutions in the moment that show you love them unconditionally. Some great tips here.

    1. Dear Kourtney
      Thank you for reading the post. Yes, twins are so fascinating in so many ways, and this part is especially close to my heart since I watch my toddlers and see how different and vulnerable they are. Unconditional love is definitely the best answer to most problems!
      Best,
      Alenka

  5. Lovely site!

    My best friend has twin girls, who were always referred to, by others, as ‘the twins’. They were the middle children in a family of four, with an older brother and a younger sister. My friend didn’t dress them the same and they are, and always have been, very different in looks and build. When they got to about three, they started wanting the same clothes, and same friends. They are both mothers themselves and still very close, and close to their other siblings too. I think they reacted to people not believing they were twins more than their mum did, and that was why they wanted the same clothes etc, but still prefer to be called by their own name! I think that is the worst thing people can do to make twins lose their own identity.

    1. Dear Sharon
      What a great story about your friend’s twins! It is good to know that things do turn out ok even if the outset is not as perfect as we’d like. I constantly frett over the future development of my twins, because people compare them constantly and it is very tiring and not fun for them. Only yesterday, I had a discussion (on the street!) with just a random person who insisted my children weren’t twins… What am i to say to that? In any case, I hope my babies will grow up to love one another and themselves for who and how they are and not wishing to be like the other twin.
      Best,
      Alenka

  6. I found this article very interesting, for one my husband is a twin so I had to read it and two my two youngest have a rivalry going on. Sadly, I have to agree that twins have more of a reason to have a rivalry than other siblings but all siblings quarrel. My two youngest fight about the dumbest things and sometimes I think they just want to fight. But I agree with your solutions, children need their own identity, especially twins. The youngest can often want to copy the older child and I can imagine how frustrating that can be for them. Competition isn’t healthy for children and it isn’t good for us to encourage or allow it. I think all children go through it but if you stay calm and patient you can help guide your children through it. Thanks for the post and I wish you and your family all the best!

    1. Dear Melissa
      Thanks so much for reading the post and I think we agree on what is important for our children. Ah, I so understand you regarding the sibling rivalry and the petty fighting… Mine have started a game ‘hugs’ where they hug each other but at the same time trying to get the each other out of the way – on the sofa!! I’ve spent the whole day asking to please come down from the sofa but no joy…hehhehe They are very sweet but it is tough at times.
      Thank you for the good wishes and all the best to your family too!
      Alenka

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