Why Do Twins Fight?

  • By: Monica
  • Date: December 19, 2021
  • Time to read: 6 min.

As parents of multiples, we’ve all been programmed to believe that our twins, triplets and quads should be best buddies and soul mates. And many are. So it can be very disturbing to watch our multiples go at it with each other. But fight they do and often. But why? The short answer? They’re siblings. All siblings fight. Period.

Fighting Between Twins

For twins, the fighting usually begins in toddlerhood with toy wars. Unable to effectively communicate with words (“May I please have a turn with your new Little People toy?”), twins instead freely grab what they want when the mood strikes and it’s usually from the hands of their cotwins. I’m sure you’ve seen the results to this strategy. Face clawing, hair pulling, hitting, biting, crying.

Sigh.

Yet it’s completely normal and actually healthy as it’s the beginning of their understanding of how to negotiate with one another. Although twins incorporate sharing into their lives sooner and more often than single-born children, it’s not instinctual. They have to learn the art just like every other kid on the block. But many toddler twins are simply not emotionally ready to share at such an early age. Thus the screaming, crying and hitting. Furthermore, experts say that intratwin fighting is merely a tool that each child uses to inform his or her own identity.

When it comes to twins, fighting may be a tricky issue. When there is an excessive amount of passion about who is the best or who is correct or who is more essential over a lengthy period of time, the twin attachment will eventually be weakened. However, conflicts, as well as distinct interests and personalities, play a psychological role in the formation of individualism. Seriously, twins may argue about everything, from who is the first to who is to blame for whatever is going on. Hopefully, your desire for what you want or your twin’s desire for what they want is founded on their particular likes and dislikes. Unfortunately, fighting can often be based only on pointless competition, which can be quite harmful.

two boys fighting over a stuffed animal

Rest assured this is just a phase and it will pass. I promise. In the meantime, try these proven techniques.

Separate the offender. 

Remove the hitter, bitter, scratcher from the area of play with a short (about two minutes) time out and stern warning, “You may not hit.” Then offer comfort to the injured party.

Encourage your twins to spend time apart if things have gotten out of hand and no amount of talking about how they feel is helping them resolve the situation. When the conflict becomes too much for them, they will be reminded that they always have the option of stepping away and spending time by themselves.

Try distraction techniques. 

If you see a skirmish about to explode into full-on warfare, step in quickly. “Hey, who wants to go to the park?” Or, “I think we have popsicles in the freezer. Who wants to go check?”

Sometimes a change of location is all that is required to restore their spirits. Additionally, being outside allows them to burn off any excess energy that may have been stored within your home.

Recognize the good behavior. 

On those rare occasions that your multiples do lovingly share with each other, make sure you notice and enthusiastically praise them for it (“I like how you shared your new Little People toy with your brother!”).

By preschool and early school years, however, the toy wars happen less often. Many twins by now have developed a close bond—they may share a classroom, many of the same interests and often friends—but that doesn’t mean that they won’t fight. It just takes on a different form, usually verbal bickering and tattling.

Have Plenty One on One Time

I love both of my twin boys dearly, and we do many many activities together. But I’ve also made sure they I have plenty one on one time with each. They know that they are not just a double unit. There is a huge difference in personality in each twin and even other siblings, and its important not to lump the twins and the twins.

Seperate Friendship Circles

At this stage in their development, twins begin to reach out to friends beyond the twinship. Yet if one twin is reluctant to leave the comfort of their little twosome, it can cause friction between the pair. Even from a young age its good for them to spend time with different friendship groups. Older twins share friends or have their own group of friends, its all normal.

For twins, a healthy disagreement marks the beginning of their development as individuals. Individual experiences and new input into their early exclusive attachment are made possible by the twins’ differing demands and separation from one another. Spending an inordinate amount of time together will almost certainly result in an increase in the number of disagreements and entanglements. Fighting between twins in childhood is fundamentally about the formation of individuality at its most fundamental level.

Another culprit? Constant twin comparisons. You know what I’m talking about: “Who’s taller?” “Who’s the smarter twin?” and, of course, “Who’s the bad twin?” When twins are exposed to comparisons on a regular basis, it can lead to sibling rivalry as each tries to one-up his cotwin in an effort to become the “better” compared twin.

Furthermore, many school-age twins simply spend too much time together. Yes, they love each other. Yes, they are friends. But even best friends need time apart so that they can experience life on their own. Every twin deserves to have a solo adventure, a unique personal journey that doesn’t have to be shared with a cotwin. Twins who have spent their entire lives together may not realize that their bickering comes from too much familiarity with their cotwins. It’s a parent’s job, therefore, to put some space between their twins even if the twins resist at first.

Fighting among teenagers, as well as the need for separate friendships and hobbies, is natural and developmentally acceptable at this age. During this period, twins should be making their own decisions and developing their own sense of self independent from their twinship.

Although this phase shall pass too, there are a few ideas to help calm the waters.

  • Consider classroom separation. Twins tend to spend 24/7 with one another. Separate classrooms allows each twin a bit of breathing room. At the very least, separate classrooms eliminates some of the tattling. And when twins come together at the end of the day, they have lots to share and talk about with one another.
  • Don’t insist on constant twin togetherness. For instance, if one twin gets invited to a birthday party or play date, resist the urge to pick up the phone and ask if his cotwin can tag along. Preschool is the time when twins will start getting separate invitations. Use that time to take the uninvited twin out for a little mommy-and-me alone time.
  • Allow each twin to pursue a separate interest. It’s so much easier to shuffle both kids to the same lessons and after-school sports but if one shows an interest in soccer while the other would prefer to take tennis lessons, make the extra effort to encourage their different endeavors.
  • Resist the urge to compare your twins. A no-brainer.

Sibling rivalry is unavoidable and challenging enough on its own, but having twins can make things even more difficult to manage for twin parents.. They’re the same age, going through the same stages, and sharing the same interests as one other. When you’re surrounded by people, it can feel like you’re drowning in their presence, and constant bickering and refereeing doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in you.

Bring them to a different part of the house, or even take one twin to a separate room, to change the atmosphere. Finally, remain consistent with your boundaries, even if it means bending a little bit further. Their understanding of your expectations will grow in direct proportion to your ability to maintain consistency. A twin relationship is like any other special bond, sometimes its amazing and sometimes they just need time apart and to learn their and your boundaries.

So what about your twins? What do they fight about and how do you handle it? How have you found raising twins?