Why Do Twins Fight?

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.

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 in forming his or her own identity.

two boys fighting over a stuffed animalRest 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.
  • 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?”
  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

So what about your twins? What do they fight about and how do you handle it?

Photo of Double Duty

9 thoughts on “Why Do Twins Fight?

  1. mary colby

    my 8 year olds argue these days. never physically, but geez, the mental effort of their arguments are astounding. boy, do the big words (not naughty words) ever come out! it’s exasperating. I am thankful that name-calling is not on their list either.

    Reply
    1. MrsNoonie

      I have identical 6 year old twins all they do is fight.. physically and verbally…scratch slap punch and they are not violent only to each other…side note u can see them ” getting along” on youtube @poodah show
      super awesome show for twins to watch and learn…

      Reply
        1. MrsNoonie

          thanks u kno it takes me 4 ever to get them juat to do 1 episode …all the fighting but ill admit they are getting better and this site really helps me understand them more..hey id be frustrated as well if i had some 1 who lookee like me around all the time

          Reply
        2. MrsNoonie

          oh and thanks for watching and be sure to tell a friend they are struggling in the comment/views department and hey these boys work hard!:)

          Reply
  2. Nichole

    The suggestions at the end article are strait up wrong and some of the worst things you can do for identical twin children. None of you of the people on this site are even identical twins anyway so how would they have any idea what it is like to be a twin. Let me just say that separation is a bad idea.(especially at an early age) It is not helpful at all, more like hurtful. Just imagine if your soul was born into two separate body’s. That is what having a twin is like. All that you are and everything you have ever been you share in common with your twin. It is a life long bond and built in grantee that you will always have someone, and that there will always be someone who will love and be with you no matter what the situation because they are more than just a part of you, they are you. That is why it is so damaging to try and separate twins at a young age (like in school) because they don’t fully understand there relationship as a twin. Separation is very traumatic. Identical twins should be left to be who they are until they are old enough to understand their relationship with their co-twin. People may think that identical twins spend to much time together or that they don’t have as many friends as other children their age but their time spent together is equivalent to the time you would spend with yourself (if that makes any sense) and it is very important. Although they may fight, twins have a very special bond that not many people will ever experience or understand. If you want to help you twin children just try to be helpful and show them what twins are in comparison to regular siblings. Suggest to them that they should do different things and be individuals. Don’t go changing their school schedules in hopes that you will make them independent because that will never happen. They are two parts of a whole that can never be separated. Just put yourself in their shoes for a second and think of what it would be like,then make your parenting decisions.

    Sincerely,

    An Identical Twin

    Reply

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