My husband, Andy, and I knew that our twins would be supremely close from day one. We also knew that there would be moments when sibling rivalry would rear its head. It's inevitable when two children go through literally everything together—from amazing developmental milestones to ordinary day-to-day experiences.
When the twins were infants, they got along great overall. But in toddlerhood, certain signs of rivalry started to pop up. Sharing their things was the first issue; the concept of "mine" sunk deeply into their heads as they turned 2. Jealousy flare-ups began to occur as well, mostly through attention-seeking when our focus was on the other child.
As they have grown, the twins have needed reassurance of their own unique selves and their own unique strengths. For example, my daughter Celeste has always been very small and is not able to keep up with her brother Drew on the playground. Even when she could barely speak prior to turning 2, she would express that she could not climb the way Drew could climb. Andy and I knew that she would get there. It was just going to take time and coaching, and she would need to gain confidence. And today, she climbs. She is still slower and more cautious than Drew, but we allow her to feel her way and take her time.
When we focus on the twins as individuals, deal with moments of rivalry case by case, and encourage good behavior, there are fewer instances of rivalry and flare-ups are more easily defused when they occur.
My advice? When rivalry rears its head, take a breath and talk to your toddlers. Explain why their behavior is not okay, and get down at their eye level. Perhaps even take their hands when explaining why they need to overcome their feelings. Always encourage them to verbally apologize to one another and hug each other after a spat.
We often remind the twins of the importance of being siblings and stress that they are support systems for one another and will always have each other. When we are able to refocus our twins on their special twin bond and their very unique experience of growing up together—of always having a friend and confidant—they are able to take a step back and understand that they should be good to one another. It's quite a sight to see and very much a privilege to watch.
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