If you thought that the first year of life as parents of twins was challenging, then you were really putting your head down and getting by each day as it comes and NOT thinking ahead. Well, I cannot argue the first year is mostly survival mode! We all have our hands full when it comes to taking care of our twins and sadly but truly, we have to rise to challenge when these bundles of energy will start fighting with each other.
All siblings fight. So, what is so unique about twins fighting with each other? Well there is nothing unique. The only difference is making up your mind on how you will handle two kids of same age, fighting! Twins fights often result in biting each other, pushing each other, pulling each other’s hair, etc. And these fights will increase with time and vary in nature. Trust me, you will eventually learn to deal with it. In this post, I will share few things that are very specific to the age 1-3 years of twins and you can try.
Age 1-2 years:
This is an age where your kids are explorers. They are unfolding the world around them constantly and are amazed with every small thing. And you have two people in the room sharing the same amazement! Infants of this age usually end up getting physical, like biting, pulling hair, etc. They really DONOT understand the impact of their actions. They just want to defend themselves and possibly the “thing” in hand (a toy, piece of cloth, or mom’s lap.) So too much reasoning and words will not have any impact on them. Try this 4-step process to avoid conflicts:
- Recognize that the event happened and tell your twin “we do not do this.” In the world of user experience design, we use a term called KISS. It means Keep It Simple, Stupid. This simple word can really be adapted when you are handling twin conflicts and fights. Just keep it simple. Tell the twin who did “something” that “we do not do this.” Then move to the other twin who has been impacted to recognize the event saying “I understand, it must hurt you. We should not fight.” That’s all.
- Walk with them – As a second step, if possible, hold their hands and just take a walk outside or at home and visit each room and just talk about something else.
- Silently remove the object of contention from there – I strategically move the item of contention from the room temporarily. I have seen this out if sight- out of mind works really well with this age group.
- Separate them for few minutes and change the place of play – I usually try to change the place of play for a while for example, a different room, or just stand in the patio/balcony or stare out of the window and observe. This helps them to calm down faster.
Age 2-3 years:
Now! This is the age you officially enter the terrible twos. And you cannot avoid it. So better put your head down and learn to deal with it. Here is a 4-step process you can follow for this age group to avoid conflicts:
- Prepare yourself: Yes, to deal with terrible twos, you need to prepare yourself. Talk with your partner about some strategies of dealing with conflict! Have a plan in place. For example, what if one twins throws a tantrum during eating times. Me and my partner actually sat down one night to talk about this. Next day, when both my twins fought over a toy on the breakfast table, we told them, this is “Dining and breakfast area. We sit together there. If you want do something else, please go to the other area.” And to our amazement, this worked!
- Sharp Memories – distraction does not work, acknowledgement and consistency work at this age! At this age, your kids are developing memories multifold and trust me it is way sharp than we can think. They remember everything. So, when a conflict happens at this age, distraction usually does not work. However, acknowledgement and consistency works. So, when a conflict happens, acknowledge and then be consistent in your response. For example, “NO, we do not hit our sister. Whenever you are ready, please say sorry.” Also, important is to allow the child to calm down independently after you have shown your concern. This will help them to deal with their emotions in the future.
- Get some books – kids at this age love to read, usually. My kids have been early readers. So, I try to get books on conflict topics once in a while. Some good books to consider are:
- Little Dinos Don’t bite
- Teeth are not for biting
- No biting
- Little dinos don’t hit
- Little dinos don’t yell
- Little dinos don’t push
- Little monkey calms down
- Do a role play – Kids at this age love role plays. So, in my experience, if you can role play the conflict situation, they will not only understand but also show the right empathy that is required in the real situation. I usually do role plays with their favorite toys.