Frustrated with your twins fighting all the time, especially when nothing seems to work? Learn the essential habits that will encourage them to get along.
First it was Spiderman, then Batman, and finally, Superman. Each new toy my husband and I gave our twins became the Hot Item they had to fight over. It seemed like they wanted whichever superhero the other person had.
While infant twins are hard, older twins can be challenging as well, especially when they fight all the time. It’s enough to make any mom feel like she’s losing her mind. And it doesn’t help when the fighting seems to be getting worse and out of control.
Sometimes you can’t even let them work it out on their own because they’d resort to pushing, and someone was bound to get hurt and cry. When it gets to this point, it’s easy to feel like you’re not handling it well.
How to handle your twins fighting
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.
Many twin moms have admitted that they’ve tried everything, from telling their twins to be gentle to putting them in timeouts. They’re constantly preventing or resolving fights and meltdowns. Forget about quality time—everything feels like damage control instead.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.
After all these years, I’ve learned a lot about helping my twins better communicate their frustration. I still run into trouble sometimes, but they get along well and hardly argue the way twins can at times. Take a look at what finally worked to help them stop fighting:
1. Acknowledge both sides
How often do we spot a tussle and launch right into discipline mode? This is especially true when it seems like one twin was the perpetrator while the other was the victim.
Except I’ve found that both kids always have valid reasons for feeling the way they do.
For instance, one could be so frustrated with the other that he feels he has no other choice but to hit him. While hitting isn’t the right behavior, acknowledge what prompted him to behave that way. Then, let the other twin know that he’s not “off the hook” because he was hit—that he played a part in it as well.
The situation can serve as a teachable moment for both kids, but only if they both feel heard.
Only when they both feel acknowledged can you explain that you don’t hit. Give examples of other ways they can better communicate their frustration, such as going to you, leaving the room, or telling the other to stop.
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2. Set a timer
As tempting as it is to get two of everything, I actually believe kids benefit from sharing toys. They learn how to take turns, to value the toys they do have, and to learn to play together.
The problem is, part of learning how to play together is ironing out potential fights and disagreements. My twins had a knack for wanting what the other one had (never mind that they had plenty of other options).
So, one of the tricks I use in these situations is to set a timer. I use our kitchen timer, setting it for 10-15 minutes at a time, which allows one twin to play with the favorite toy. Once the timer beeps, they both know to pass the toy to the other.
Rather than forcing them to give up the toy in the name of “sharing,” they both get equal turns back and forth.
3. Separate your twins
Despite their bickering, twins somehow still find ways to spend most of their time together. So much so, that they might not even see being apart as a real alternative.
When things have escalated and no amount of talking about how they feel works, encourage your twins to spend time apart. This lets them know that they always have the option of walking away and spending time alone when the fighting gets too much.
Separating them can also be a good idea when you notice one twin getting irritated with the other. They may not be able to articulate the desire for alone time, so separating them can be one way to avoid the arguments.
4. Get out of the house
The thought of getting out of the house only for your twins to fight in public may not be appealing. Still, I’ve found that stepping outside is one of the best ways to get them to stop arguing.
A change of scenery can be all they need to recharge their moods. Being outside also allows them to burn energy that may have been cooped up in your home.
You don’t need to go on crazy adventures—playing in the backyard or taking a walk around the block can do the trick. And if it’s not possible to step outside, try a different room instead. If my twins are fighting in the living room, I’ll have them play in their bedroom.
5. Be consistent with boundaries
A common cause of sibling rivalry, especially with twins, is inconsistency. We implement rules one day, then let them fly the other. Sometimes we do so for good reason: we can only take so much and need to pick our battles.
But if we make consistency the exception instead of the rule, we run the risk of kids feeling confused about what to do. Your twins aren’t set on deliberately defying rules or upsetting you (even though sometimes it feels that way!). Instead, they don’t know how to behave.
As difficult as it is to follow through with consequences or talk about their behavior, try to stay consistent with doing so.
Internalizing moral character and knowing how to behave takes time and—you guessed it—consistency. The more they hear the message and learn how to behave, the more likely they’ll stop fighting.
Sibling fighting is inevitable and hard enough, but having twins can be even more difficult to manage. They’re the same age, going through the same milestones and interests. You feel like you’re drowning in overwhelm, and the constant bickering and refereeing doesn’t always bring out the best in you.
Changing behavior takes time, too. While it may not seem like you’re making progress, improving habits and learning new ways to handle conflict can be a slow process for your twins. Keep that in mind when it feels like nothing is working.
In the meantime, do what you can to prevent and manage your twins fighting. Acknowledge both sides and avoid labeling one as the victim and the other the perpetrator. Set a timer to teach turn-taking, and if need be, separate them for a brief period so they can cool off.
Reset the mood by bringing them out of the house, or even to a different room. And finally, be consistent with boundaries, even if it’s easier to cave in. The more consistent you can be, the more they’ll understand your expectations.
Raising twins doesn’t have to feel like a never-ending cycle of fighting, especially over who gets to use Superman next.
Get more tips:
- Do You Make These Common Mistakes with Your Toddler Twins?
- Conflict Resolution for Children
- How to Stop Tattling
- How to Keep Children from Biting
- Want a Child Who Can Think Critically? Start with This.
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