Quelling the Competition Between Your Twins

By Lauren Bailey

Everyone knows sibling rivalry is a part of life. Brothers and sisters fighting is as natural as the sun rising and setting; however, when it comes to the rivalry that can exist between twins, the situation is a little more intense.

Sure, when they’re young it’s no big deal. One steals the other’s crayons. Or, perhaps one saw you giving the other a cookie and demands one as well. These are quick fix situations that require minimal action on your part to “make it better.” But what happens when they grow? Aside from just the basic tension that could mount, twins have the potential of becoming borderline obsessed with competing with their sibling.

Granted, I have always felt a bit competitive with my sister who is 2.5 years my senior, but it’s hardly ever been cause for concern, and I think a lot of that has to do with the age difference between us. We would get a break from each other. At home or with relatives, I felt more inclined to bring up our similarities or differences and constantly felt pressure to one-up her. But, at school, I felt completely different. That was my time to shine and differentiate from her. I was the only Bailey girl in my class, she couldn’t beat me this time, so I already had that going for me.

For twins, unfortunately, they don’t always get that break. They feel they are constantly compared with their sibling, because their sibling is usually always there, everywhere they are. Being in the same class, having the same last name, almost guarantees they will forever be following each other around the school yard, and possibly even the athletic realm, if they both show interests in similar things. So their competitive tendencies never get a break. And, as they grow older, if this is not addressed it could cause real problems. So, it’s best to nip it in the bud while they’re young.

For tips on how to alleviate the competition and ensure your twins form an unspeakable bond, keep reading!

Encourage Their Differences

Now, before you get all concerned, this doesn’t mean you can’t still dress them in those adorable matching outfits, because you can — at least until they’re five. This is more about encouraging them to embrace their passions no matter how different they might be from the other’s. This is honestly important advice for anyone with any set of children, but with twins it really is. Oftentimes — be they identical or not — twins struggle with a sense of self and individuality, since they are faced with someone so similar every day.

So, to help them stand out from each other, nurture their interests. Sign them up for soccer, art, ballet, whatever it is they take a liking to, because in the long run this will help them develop an identity, something apart from their sibling. Sure, some twins will have the same interests, but that doesn’t mean they have to experience them together. If they both like baseball, sign them up for different teams. Sure, this might be a bit of a hassle for you, the parent, or even the babysitter, but giving them that necessary break to explore the world on their own, not as a pair, is important for their personal development.

Highlight Their Strengths

Similar to nurturing their passions, parents should also strive to highlight their children’s individual strengths. Maybe Tommy is really great at drawing, and Timmy is more of an articulate writer. If that’s the case, encourage and embrace it, as it gives them a sort of concrete direction. This is a great way to help them realize that everyone has their own strengths and shortcomings alike. Not everyone is perfect at everything, and shouldn’t strive to be. As long as they are doing the best they can, they owe you no apologies.

So, by helping them realize the two of them will have different qualities than the other, you are teaching them acceptance and appreciation — appreciation not only for their triumphs and skills, but also for those of their sibling, who they will hopefully begin to see as someone they should work WITH rather than AGAINST.

Nurture Their Special Bond

While the previous tips emphasized highlighting their unique differences, it’s important to remember this one, which stresses just how special their bond is. Although the most intense fighting may start between twins, they also have the capacity to love one another and connect more deeply than other siblings. This is not to take away from those of us who are not blessed with a twin brother or sister; this is just to say that having a twin is rare. Even if you feel you see more than you used to, it’s still not the norm and something that sets them apart.

By teaching them to value and cherish the relationship they have between one another, they are less likely to resent or envy each other during their lives. And that’s really what every parent wants in general for all of their children — twins or not. They want them to recognize the importance of family and connectedness, and by utilizing these simple steps, there is no doubt in my mind that your children will grow into loving adult siblings.

Lauren Bailey is an education writer and freelance blogger. In addition to her articles on nutrition and environmental issues, she frequently writes about online colleges and courses. Lauren welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99 @gmail.com.