Jealousy among twins is one of the problems that I expected to encounter as Nicholas and Antoinette joined Jeff and I in this place we call home. Since the time I discovered that I was pregnant, I started asking friends who have twins for tips to avoid jealousy among twins, so I can better prepare myself for what is to come. Here are some of their answers:
1. Avoid Favoritism, Never Compare
Even when you really have a favorite, control your emotions in front of the children. By all means possible, stay neutral. Playing favorites can manifest in what you may think of as "harmless statements" such as, "Look at your brother, he is so well behaved!" Jealousy among twins is common just as much as sibling rivalry is a force of nature.
2. Do Not ALWAYS Treat Them as One
Sure it’s cute to say, "The twins are off to a playdate," but Mommy, these are two people we are talking about, and they do need to establish their own individual selves and identities. When one of the twins commits a mistake, do not include the other in the punishment. It’s unfair, and it will create a feeling of resentment in the one who didn’t commit any blunder.
3. Twins Need Breaks from Each Other
Twins are built-in playmates ever since they met inside the mother’s womb. They have been sharing almost everything from day one of conception. You know what they say about familiarity breeds contempt? Well, the feeling may not be that strong, but imagine being with the same person for every second, hour, day and year of your life. Twins need breaks from each other. Acknowledge that and respect it.
4. Spend One-on-One Dates with Each Child
My friend, who is a mother of eight-year-old boy twins, said she does this every week. Take one child to the park for an hour or two on a Saturday morning; take the other one in the afternoon. One-on-one dates allow each child to talk to you without worrying about having the other one hearing what he has to say. The key here is to establish a culture of communication and fairness. You want to hear the two sides of the story, right?
5. Allow Them to Choose Their Own Hobby or Sport
It is extremely cute to see twins playing football together or playing badminton side-by-side each other, but was it their choice? Or did you force them to take the sport?
6. Properly Identify Belongings
Lately, we have observed that our 11-month-olds are biting and whacking each other in the face over a Dora the Explorer doll. We tell them as early as now that Dora is Toni’s (our girl) toy and not Nick’s, but they’re too young to understand. Jeff and I however expect that scenes like this will happen in the not-so-distant future so we already came up with a plan to prevent and avoid it. One idea of which is to hold a family meeting and properly identify belongings and possessions, which means that it will be openly declared who owns what. If A wants to borrow B’s belonging, A needs to ask for permission from B and vice versa.
7. Instill in Them the Value of Cooperation, Not Competition
We've been talking about cooperation to the twins, even going to the extent of showing them simple examples like Dad moving to the crib and Mom reaching out to the other side to pick up the toys they dropped. Sometimes, we take their high chairs to the kitchen, put them in there as they watch us washing dishes together. Then one day, while they were playing inside their closet, I saw Nick kneeling on all fours, while Toni stepped on his back. She managed to reach a piece of luggage with Nick helping her. Nick then stood up and joined her. I call this "twinwork."
Sibling rivalry doesn't have to rule in your house of twins! What do you think about rivalry among twins?