My sister has teen twin girls and they’re driving her nuts. They seem to thrive on bickering about anything and everything and take every opportunity to argue and compete. They compete for the best grades, argue about who has better friends and even fight over who gets to pour cereal first in the morning.
She tried everything she could think of to get them to stop including placing them in separate classes but that only made them argue about who had the best day at school. Dividing stuff equally between them didn’t work either as they delight in debating the minute differences in whatever they get.
Finally, she had enough and decided to change things around her home once and for all. The last time I went for a visit, things between my nieces had cooled down and they were actually civil to each other.
Surprised, I asked her how she’d managed to tame their rivalry. Here are some of the simple tactics she employed:
Spending Quality Time with Each Twin.
While they do things together as a family, my sister and her husband finally got frustrated with the twins’ constant feuding. So they decided to start spending quality one-on-one time with each teen. This way, they don’t have to split their attention between the two girls and they can get to know each individually. This tactic has greatly improved communication between the girls and their parents. Additionally, my nieces calmed down once they realized they no longer had to compete for their parent’s attention.
Encouraging and Supporting Individual Hobbies and Interests.
My sister worked hard to provide opportunities for her girls to explore their individual interests. Although they were both on the swim team, one of the girls also joined the hockey team while the other took art classes. One of them loves spending time experimenting in the kitchen while the other prefers exploring music.
Although it meant that their parents spent more time shuttling them to their various co-curricular activities, it was worth it to see them blossom. The teen girls got to express their individuality and loved getting recognition for their unique talents and abilities. Even better, they learned to support each other.
Constant comparisons by friends, family or acquaintances often cause rifts in twin relationships. People will often start identifying twins with labels like “she’s the smart one” or “she’s the tomboy”. This generalized labeling was part of the reason my nieces were so unhappy with each other and their mom decided it had to stop.
She banned comparisons in her home. Now she finds different ways of complimenting the twins based on their abilities and uniqueness. Furthermore, she spoke to the rest of her family and friends and asked that they desist from making such open comparisons.
Helping Them Appreciate Themselves and Each Other.
When you and your sibling look totally alike, it can be hard to cultivate your individuality. Understanding this, my sister keeps reminding each teen that they are valued for their individuality, not for how they stack up to their twin. She wants them to know that they are loved for who they are.
To help them appreciate each other, she added a new element to their dinner time routine. She asks each girl to say something she likes about her sister or why she’s thankful for having her. Over time, she’s realized that this simple exercise has made the teen twins more respectful and accepting of each other.
While raising feuding multiples isn’t easy, helping them to develop their own individuality greatly reduces the bickering. After all, when you’re feeling good about yourself, it’s quite difficult to feel resentful towards your fellow twin.
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Tyler is a proud husband and father of four. He has worked with families and youth for nearly 10 years and enjoys camping and hiking in his spare time. Tyler values family above everything else and hopes his experiences and research can help other families work through challenges and form strong, lasting bonds.