or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Parenting Multiples › dominant twin
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

dominant twin

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am curious about this. How do you know which is the dominant twin, or if there is one? (I am suspecting if you have to ask the question, there isn't a dominant twin? )

What typically characterizes a "dominant" twin? What are people talking about when they use the term? How does the other twin tend to act?
post #2 of 10
Well, I guess I'm not really sure what exactly you mean by "dominant". I have one who does everything first: cut teeth first, rolled first, sat first, etc... but is really laid back. The other one is a little bit more of a "bully", likes to have what she wants when she sees it and will stop at nothing except her physical limitations to get it, and is slightly more needy: cries harder/ longer, wants to be held more, needs to be soothed more, etc... than the other.

So they are dominant in their own ways, but I wouldn't say that one is more dominant than the other. Make sense?

Are you talking about when they are older (not babies)? Or in the womb? Or at any stage?
post #3 of 10
There are several dynamics that *can* occur and caused one twin to get labeled "dominant" but it is often not appropriate. Also, a lot of people without twins seem to have this idea that one twin is always dominant.

Anyway, a couple of dynamics that can look like dominance:

Twin X wins every argument about what to do or who gets to play with which toy. Sometimes this is at Twin Y's expense, but not always.

Twin X lets Twin Y do all the talking.

post #4 of 10
I've never seen any sign of this in my twins. I do have one twin who is consistently ahead developmentally, but she is not the more assertive of the two or anything like that.

That said--- a few years ago, I taught a pair of MZ twin girls, 7 years old, in a second grade class. After a few months, we recommended to the parents to have the girls separated in different classes, because we saw a pattern that was kind of disturbing. What we saw is that consistently, one of the girls was doing all of the talking and all of the "thinking" for the pair. Before the other girl would talk or participate in anything, she always looked to the other one for approval, first. If I asked the second girl a question, the girls would exchange glances, and the first girl would answer for the second one. In social situations, the first girl was active, involved, outgoing, etc., and the other girl just sat quietly beside her. And academically, the second girl was able to do tasks involving giving simple right/wrong answers, but anything that needed a more open-ended response, she looked to the other girl to do it for her.

Then the first girl missed a week of school, because of a nasty flu, and I had the second girl for a week without her sister. Man, it was amazing, the difference. She came out of her shell and started talking and having opinions about stuff and getting involved with a small group of friends, and we started working on her writing short little paragraphs. Then the first sister came back to school, and it all went away, and she went back to being meek and quiet again.

Therefore we recommended, at the beginning of the next academic year, that the girls be placed in separate classes. I wanted them to be separated right away, but we couldn't work out how to do that without making one girl feel like she'd been "put out" of the class, since there were only two classes at that grade level.

Based on this experience, I think that sometimes unhealthy patterns do start to emerge in twin relationships. Well, in any relationship between sibs or even close friends or cousins closely spaced in age, I guess you'd sometimes see stuff like that. But I don't think it's like a fixed "twin thing," the way some people seem to believe.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm not certain what I'm asking, exactly. Sort of scoping out all of the above, I guess. (Thanks for the replies.) I've heard of the "one twin speaking for both" thing, but thought there might be behaviors that predate that, or something.

I see differences in my guys (who walked first, who is talking more, who is more assertive or not) and they tend to be pretty equal. Generally speaking. It gets spread around between them, and also they just are on a par. They walked in the same week, and I think one generally has been first with motor skills but not to the point that I actually remember which one that is! (seriously)

Even the size thing isn't the same (the bigger twin slowed way down on his gaining as we have been isolating foods to try to pinpoint what is causing him eczema problems. All of the sudden, his "smaller" brother is over a pound heavier and doesn't seem to be giving an inch on that, now that they're both gaining again.) One twin might do more biting/hair pulling and toy grabbing, but they really both do it when the situation calls for it (from their perspective, at least.)

I've been noticing lately that twin A is quick to complain, screech, when his brother puts his hands on something of his. (A bowl of crackers, a spoon, a truck, a book he's holding.) He is doing this squawk thing, right off the bat, in protest. Sometimes just at the approach of his brother.

While this other twin (Twin B, who always used to be bigger but weighs less now) just impassively reaches for whatever catches his fancy. He seems pretty unbothered, just reaches & tries to take, has a nonchalant expression (at least until he gets significantly thwarted) and is quick to lean over and bite a resisting or protesting hand/arm.

He's been seeming more like a bulldozer, and I've particularly noticed the trend of complaint when he approaches. I was wondering about that dynamic.

But then, that twin A is more of a speaker (neither twin is talking all that much, at 21 months now) and has some qualities that seem kind of "leader" like.

I guess I just was trying to get a sense of what is meant, and whether it's a matter of dominating the other twin (physically, etc.), or one twin "checking in with" the other and generally agreeing or submitting, or one twin stepping up and assuming to speak for the pair much of the time, or what. (Could one twin being quick to cry/protest but not really "sticking up for himself" constitute that, even if he might be more vocal and generally self-directed, not a "follower"? These are the things I've been thinking. I honestly don't see a clear dominant twin in my pair, but I was mulling it all over.)
post #6 of 10
AmyC, I have the same thing with mine. R is *constantly* "attacking" his brother. No matter what D is playing with, R is quick to take it away amid squawking and protesting. I sometimes think R does it just to hear his brother scream. D is definately the "quieter" one and can sit for hours just on his own doing stuff while R can't sit still for more than three minutes. They are both quite verbal and have been for some time and now they are arguing with each other and it is making me crazy.

I think it is part personality, part wanting attention. But that's my humble opinion for my guys.

Hope things get better.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am still thinking about this. Right now I am trying to frame a post that will ask for ideas about how to encourage their communication to avoid the grab/bite cycle, and not so focused on the "dominant twin" aspect.

I still wonder about this, overall, just because while there is one who seems to be on the "losing side" (and protesting side) more consistently, I'm not sure his grabbing/taking/biting brother is somehow "dominant" in the pair in terms of leadership. And they kind of share the biting stuff....sometimes the "taker" bites in order to encourage the first one to release whatever thing he's got, and sometimes the twin with the toy will bite the hand of the one attempting to take it (this scenario seems to occur less frequently, overall, though. It seems like the interloper reaches over, grabs, holds on, brother starts fussing, and interloper leans over and plants the bite.)

Boy, it sounds like I never watch them (or intercede), doesn't it?

I will try to make a separate thread on this (I think I might be able to copy and paste from another online discipline forum where I posted for suggestions) since I'd like to explore the idea of suggestions for what to encourage in terms of communicating.
post #8 of 10
Most days I am a cross between a policeman, a crowbar and a mediator. I try and give them the words that they need (Did you hear that your brother wants to play with it? Please give it to him when he's finished. Your brother is playing with it now and when he is finished he will give it to you.) That sort of thing. It's really hard, but it does start to balance out. Now at three, there are many times they are fighting I will say something like "why don't you play together" and all of a sudden one of them yells "teamwork" and that's the end of that. It does get better with time.
post #9 of 10
Originally Posted by AmyC View Post
Boy, it sounds like I never watch them (or intercede), doesn't it?
One of my boys almost always has visible bite marks from his brother. It seems like there's no way I could possibly watch them closely enough to avoid the brotherly trauma they inflict on each other

I do have one who I would call more dominant than the other, but it's really a question of what that means. One of my boys is just more demanding, bigger, louder, and gets his way more often. But his twin brother is more independent, and he does his share of grabbing things too; he is very much an individual and is not passive or a follower, he just sometimes gets bullied by his brother and prefers to go off and do his own thing. I'm told that when I'm not around, my bigger, more dominant twin does take the lead more often, and his less dominant brother tends to check for his presence more often.

I think our boys are about the same age (recently 2), and I think it's a really tough age with the fighting and working out their relationship.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by mama_tigress View Post
I think our boys are about the same age (recently 2), and I think it's a really tough age with the fighting and working out their relationship.
Yes, I agree with your observation. And also have really noted the "amazing" or gratifying parts to watch in this "working out" process, a perspective that I think is helped by the ways I have started to offer my influence (I have gotten more strategic and intentional through an awareness of overall long-range goals, all of which helps me feel less like I'm just reacting to their "situation" in the moment and unsure overall of what I might want to offer them to help them negotiate it, that would perhaps begin to transform the negotiations so the bites & bruises are less and less a factor because of skills and strategies, not just because of "growing out of it.")

btw I'm glad to see you posting and I remember your sweet boys, and their big brother. One of my favorite stories from here was yours relating something like having the three year old in the basket of a shopping cart, one 1-year-old twin in the seat and the other one-year-old in your arms or a sling, and someone stopping to say "Twins?" You said "yes," and the person then said, "Which ones?" Ummmm, the two babies? Since there are TWO of them the same size??? (Like, is this three year old and that one-year-old the likely twin pair, or would it be the two babies, here?) (I do realize a sling can obscure size/age and people are not always instinctively savvy on that score anyway, but still so funny!)

With my two, I notice what you say about "checking with his brother's presence" more often for the apparently less dominant twin (who is far from a follower.) This distinction resonates for me very much, as I note similar things all the time in my guys. One simple example is from a recent walk when we were downtown, and walking along a sidewalk (no such thing as sidewalks for our walks around home, out in the country.)

My "louder" twin (who most often delivers the bites and initiates the "grab") was very excited about the construction vehicle and its VERY LARGE TIRES, pointing and exclaiming over and over in a very insistent way that wanted acknowledgment (so I was reflecting his excitement, acknowledging his desire to communicate what was delighting him and to have the specific thing he loved recognized in his excitement--basically doing a lot of validating of what was so amazing about that sight, those REALLY BIG TIRES that were almost AS TALL AS MAMA!) This went on for awhile as you might imagine, and finally we moved on down the sidewalk, where the process of communicating BIG EXCITEMENT happened again with a particular large lamp-post/flag pole.

There is a whole series of these poles down the sidewalk on Main Street, but one in particular caught his fancy and he really focused on it for a long while, apparently enjoying the texture of the concrete/pebble overlay, the fact of the light at the top (when he bothered to look up as I described what it was), the decorative flag hanging off, but really just the base of the thing with its bumpy texture most of all. As near as I could tell, his excitement was over this GREAT BIG THING coming RIGHT OUT OF THE SIDEWALK!!! And when you TOUCH it, it's BUMPY!!!

It was the same as his need with the tires on that big construction vehicle....he just needed to touch it and delight in it, and point out his delight over and over and over and be heard. So I reflected him in as many ways as I could to satisfy his need to communicate and be heard.

At one point (after many, many "false starts" when we would begin to return to our starting point and our vehicle, only to have to stop and experience that post again, or turn right back around and backtrack all the way to the post even when we HAD made considerable progress), I observed to the boys that there was ANOTHER post JUST LIKE IT ahead on the sidewalk. This seemed to support him enough to let it go and start walking.

But by the time we arrived at the post, he was chill and just looking around, noticing other things. His twin, on the other hand (I was carrying this guy) did his "wagging finger thing" which corresponds to his brother's "UUUUNNNHHHH???" way of noticing things and engaging us about it, except that it's much easier to miss or to ignore the "finger wagging" which is accompanied by a delighted little growly sound (which is sort of like Scooby Doo or Astro or probably any number of cartoon character dogs, and like the finger wagging is easy to miss if you are stressed or occupied with something else.) But he wanted acknowledgment, too, and since I was carrying him I noticed his overtures (that were right in front of my face.) He was pointing out the light post, the same kind his brother had been so nuts about.

Then we arrived at the construction vehicle again and that second twin again wagged his finger to call attention to "his brother's" truck tire. (Both twins were into the construction stuff, but this time the first twin was particularly taken with an orange canvas street sign they had in place to warn about construction. He wanted to touch it and point to it and proclaim his delight with his insistent "UUUUUnnnhhhh?" over and over. More validating and reflecting and verbalizing.)

After awhile we moved on again, and passed another light pole, which the second twin again acknowledged. And then another canvas traffic sign, which the second twin wanted to get down so HE could rush forward and touch, proclaiming it in his mellower but equally intent way. Again, "his brother's" sign. We rounded the corner where there was another light pole and another construction sign, and the second twin noticed these once again, while his brother was mostly looking around (noticing the clock on the large church across the street---the twin I carried had noticed that earlier, and had indicated it to me while I was carrying him, as well as some other things.) But the second twin never let up his "reporting" of his brother's passions.

It was very interesting.

My husband and I sometimes joke about the Apollonian and Dionysian between them (I don't like to impose such labels on them and I realize the reference does break down at a certain point, and really they are more alike than different, but the degree to which it CAN apply and can even be useful is sometimes startling) and this was one of those times when the description seemed to fit. The more reflective "Apollonian twin" was going along cataloging, organizing, and recording the dynamic experience of his Dionysian brother, who was "just being."
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Parenting Multiples
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Parenting Multiples › dominant twin