Twins fight constantly. The interminable squabbling is a drag and a drain. In some ways, this power struggle is another aspect of the twin connection. This dynamic is often encountered in couples whose quarreling becomes the primary way they feel connected. If possible, it’s best to address the issue of fighting between twins sooner rather than later. As much as twins are each other’s biggest rival, they are also one another’s staunchest supporter.
How can parents minimize tension and competition? Several years ago, at a presentation that I gave to a group of mothers of multiples, one mom shared her solution. She had alternate days belong to each twin—much like being queen or king of the day. Each day, one one twin got to go first in everything: being buckled into the car seat, getting bathed, selecting the book for bedtime reading, and so on. One twin could feel special while the other had to practice tolerating frustration and waiting for her or his turn. This behavioral approach helps to instill respect and patience—qualities often lacking in twin relationships.
While each day’s events will not be fair and equal, the twins will look forward to their turn. The drive to “beat” one’s sibling will lose some of its appeal. Also, for parents who do not want to be bothered with time-consuming charts and rewards, all one has to do is stick to the schedule. Each day’s firsts will not be the same for both children—this stipulation is built into the plan. What happens just happens.
Twins who abuse their power of two by thwarting friendships, impairing peer relationships, and defying authority are on a dangerous path. The ability to self-regulate is one of the most important developmental milestones for multiples. When twins excessively depend on each other for self-control and direction, their maturity and self-confidence will be impaired and delayed.