One dominant twin - what did YOU do? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 11-25-2007, 04:01 AM - Thread Starter
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We have ultrasound pix of Baby A (Shane) kicking Baby B (Dylan) in the head. Dylan spent most of his time in the womb trying to swim away. They are now 16 mos (adjusted age). Not much has changed. Whatever Dylan is playing with, Shane immediately takes away. Fortunately, Dylan is very easy-going and will usually just transfer his attention to another toy, but that soon gets taken away too. Another thing – Shane follows Dylan around, pointing to him and trying to say his name (“dee-uh”). It was cute in the beginning, but now he’s either poking him in the eye or smacking him on the head when he does it. And most recently Shane has been running up behind his brother and pushing him down for no reason. And, heaven forbid I pick up and snuggle his brother...suddenly Shane is crying and pulling on my leg.

I’m sure all siblings have these issues, but I’m wondering how other Moms handled it at this age. I remember reading about this phenomenon when I was pregnant and I mostly remember the “experts” saying that, at this age, the best thing to do is let the twins work it out themselves. But it’s hard to stand by and watch Dylan constantly be the underdog. I HAVE noticed that, when the toy is very important to Dylan, he WILL fight for it, but that’s rare. More and more often, I’ve noticed he slips away and plays privately in a corner, behind a door, or in the closet. He seems to enjoy it, but it makes me sad.

So...mamas...what did you do in this situation? Here’s what I’ve tried so far: Shane will often push his brother and then look at me to see my reaction, so I’ve tried scowling and saying “no”, but that doesn’t seem to phase him. I’ve tried re-directing him, but he thinks that’s a game — I calmly take him away, he runs back laughing and does it again, I remove him again, repeat, repeat, repeat. And today I tried just staring off into space whenever he would look at me after doing something mean, so as to not give him a reaction, which was hard. Also, as a proactive measure, I’ve been working on giving them lots of practice with taking turns and reinforcing their good sharing behavior. And, earlier tonight, when Shane took a toy away, I asked him to give it back to Dylan and, when he did, I smiled big and said “thank you”. But then he kept going back and taking it away again so that he could give it back and get my positive reinforcement again. Sigh.

So, suggestions are welcome. Or, if you don’t have any suggestions, maybe you can just tell me, if this happened with YOUR twins, was it just a phase? And, if so, how long did it last? Do I have a long haul ahead of me or just until they reach a certain age or can understand the consequences of their actions? Or should I just brace myself for this to be their lifelong relationship?

Amy â Unschooling my twin boys, born April 2006 (12 weeks early at 2 lbs each). Astrology for Parenting -- helping parents attain authentic and respectful relationships with their children and families.
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#2 of 11 Old 11-25-2007, 04:46 AM
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I don't have a ton of good advice, but I did want to pass on what I've noticed with our girls. We joked that K was bossing O around even in utero -- O was originally a vertex Twin A and then sometime around 28 weeks K dislodged her and made O spend the next nine weeks breech with her head smashed in my ribcage before being pulled out by her feet.

And at first, all signs pointed to K being the boss (more demanding, taking toys, lots of stuff you mentioned including if snuggling O suddenly needing attention). But as they've gotten a bit older (almost 2 1/2 now) I realize that O is the leader in a lot of ways (although K still makes her needs known). When we read books about colors, for examples, K won't answer what the color is -- she waits for O. And if O suddenly decides she needs to wear her fairy costume with water socks (a favorite look for them), K will immediately follow.

So I think they *are* working it out on their own. I think their personalities are such that O can take a lot of bossing and march to her own drum with no hurt feelings... and that K needs O and her guidance and leading as well. There are still fights, but it is definitely less and less as they seem to be figuring out who they are (and we figure out who they are -- and realize that even though something might seem hard from our outsider's point of view, they've actually found a pretty good balance.)

That doesn't help in the here and now, though, and I feel for you with seeing the dominance. Hang in there, and here's a bit of hope that it will get better with time!
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#3 of 11 Old 11-25-2007, 05:35 AM
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First, sorry you're dealing with this issue. I find it very stressful to handle these types of unique twin issues simply because I want to do what's best for them.

That said, I have no idea if I handle it right, but here's what we've done (our 5-year-olds get along great most of the time).

From about 5 months until 18 months, one twin was dominant. This was because he was very advanced physically. We ALWAYS intervened. I didn't believe the books that told me to let them work it out. That would mean my dominant twin would learn he could take things away from his brother without consequence and my mellow twin would learn that he wasn't safe... especially from his brother. We would gently tell the dominant twin that it wasn't his turn for the toy and that his brother would give it to him when he was done. Sometimes we'd set a time limit. Sometimes there were tears, but by a year, he knew he wasn't supposed to be stealing something from his brother.

Around 2 or so, we started giving them opportunities to work things out. I figured at that age, they had enough experience with what was considered proper behavior to try to do the right thing, or negotiate the right thing. But after about 18 months, the power shifted a bit and by 2 1/2, they were fairly equal anyway.

I also think you need to continue cuddling with both boys and not let your more aggressive twin try to prevent your cuddling with the other boy. I know it's easier said than done, but he needs to learn that you love both boys equally and you'll cuddle him when you're done. When my boys were little I always told them there was always enough room on my lap for both of them if they ever fussed over one being on my lap.

So... that's what we did. Hope it helps.
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#4 of 11 Old 11-28-2007, 06:01 AM
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My dominant twin thing in my two was never as extreme as it sounds with your boys, but one of my girls is definitely the more dominant twin. Her personality is more forceful than her sister's. Like the other two mamas, though, things have evened out between my two for the most part.

Fiona bit Phoebe and generally abused her at about 16-months, then at right about a year, the tables turned and Fiona was over her biting stage just as Phoebe got into it. Fiona always had bite marks on her arms from her sister at that age. Now the physical aggression is pretty equal.

I think it's sort of odd advice to let 16 month olds work it out amongst themselves. IMO, they don't have the skills to do that and it would amount to your dominant son always getting what he wants and the less dominant son being pushed around unchecked by his brother.

I don't think I did anything brilliant with my two, but here's what I did, for what it's worth. I pulled them them apart when they were hurting each other and said something like, "No biting! Biting hurts your sister!" I would try to figure out what provoked the aggression and help them negotiate that. At about a year and a half, I started helping them understand the concept of sharing and taking turns by counting for them. You get the toy while I count to 10 and then your sister gets a turn while I count to 10. They used to yell, "Count mama!' when they wanted help with this. I've taken toys away if they've used them to hurt each other. Now when they come to me and say, "Phoebe's not sharing" I help them work it out together and do less of the negotiation for them.

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#5 of 11 Old 11-28-2007, 08:45 AM
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Mine have basically switched dominance at different times. I pretty much left them to work it out unless someone is being hurt. At the moment Rena is the "intelectual" leader (choosing what games to play, deciding what would be fun to do now, etc. but she seems a benevolent dictator, I wouldn't really call her bossy). Nechama is the "bully leader." When N. wants something she wants it NOW. She's my toy snatcher, I want to play with X, having a fit because Rena won't do Y now twin. They are in pre-k together and teh teachers havent' noticed either one really leading so much. She said they sometimes play together and sometimes seperatly, but she thinks they are a good pair not too dependent on each other or fighting all the time.

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#6 of 11 Old 11-30-2007, 08:43 AM
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M was kicking C in the head in every ultrasound. She was also the healthier and dominant twin for a while - Nothing dangerous, like hitting, and C didn't seem to mind. Then no-one really seemed 'dominant'. Later C became the dominant child. They always shared pretty well but I still stepped in at times because something didn't seem 'fair' and was told by mothers with teen-aged twins to leave it alone if no-one minds or is hurt. This advice worked well since most of the time when I stepped in they decided to handle it their own way anyway. (e.g. M takes something away from C, I make her give it back and he gives it to her anyway. Or C always cleans up for M or gets her shoes and coat - I coaxed her to help and he gets upset saying he is the 'helper' and wants to get it for her.)

For hitting, etc. I think it depends upon the child but this has been working for me…
Very recently C has started to hit M or grab toys and M gets upset. This is where I step in. I've been I attending to M first - comforting her until she is calm. In the mean time C is hanging on me feeling bad and wanting attention himself. After M is calm (I try no to focus on C until M is calm since she was the one ‘hurt’ and I do not want to minimize that or give C negative attention.) I talk to C and try to explain why what he is dong is wrong - this can take a lot of explaining (If I'm overheard in public I sometimes get 'eye-rolls'). He gets upset, actually devastated if corrected at all so I need to constantly re-assure he is a good boy and I love him but what he is doing isn't good. (My husband tends to speak sternly or raise his voice and C becomes hysterical.) I was told today that C needs to become accustomed to being reprimanded and I shouldn’t ‘coddle’ him. As a sensitive child myself who was very hard on myself I am not sure this is good advice. The ‘naughty chair’ has also been suggested. I tried it when they were younger, briefly, and it was a disaster. C was hysterical each time he was placed on it and M couldn’t care less.

C has always been more demanding of my attention - physically and mentally. I make sure I provide equal time for M even though she seems content on her own. I initiate the contact with her and she loves it - just doesn't seek it as much as he does. (This was difficult, sometimes impossible, when they were babies because he was so much more demanding and was not as healthy.)

I know this is wordy - Does it make sense??
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#7 of 11 Old 12-01-2007, 04:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much all you twin mamas for taking the time to share your experience. I'm feeling much more hopeful about this situation and, as a result, the last few days have been remarkably better between the boys. Perhaps partly because we've had a chance to go outside and play for a little while (which is rare because they are still at the age where it takes two adults to go anywhere with them). I am also very intrigued by the idea that perhaps the tables will turn and the "underdog" will become the dominant one -- I can now imagine how that could possibly play out, watching them together. I just have to keep remembering that "this too shall pass"! Thanks again!

Amy â Unschooling my twin boys, born April 2006 (12 weeks early at 2 lbs each). Astrology for Parenting -- helping parents attain authentic and respectful relationships with their children and families.
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#8 of 11 Old 12-02-2007, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by dbsam View Post
M The ‘naughty chair’ has also been suggested. I tried it when they were younger, briefly, and it was a disaster. C was hysterical each time he was placed on it and M couldn’t care less.
I heard a great suggestion the other day regarding the typical 'naughty chair' time out. Instead of the negative name, you can call the time out spot a 'peace place'. It's where the child goes to calm themselves and recollect and think about why they are doing what they are doing. The essence of it is that the behavior doesn't have to be shamed to be corrected (this can lead to feelings of inadequacy, right?), and that a 'peace place' will actually help the child to calm down and become introspective as they grow.

I still have a while before I'll get to try it out on my twins, though I remember that this was the idea of time outs given to me when I was growing up.

Mama to twin girls Adele and Nadia, born 5/2008
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#9 of 11 Old 12-02-2007, 02:48 PM
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I don't let my boys fight it out. How is that teaching them how to negotiate or work together, etc.?

When they were 9-18 months old, when they would hit or pull hair I would intervene and then show them how to be gentle. Now when they hit, they sit in time out, then they have to appologize and show me how to be gentle. Now, I also model how to negotiate: "B, you want a turn with the blue car. T has it now. Let's go ask him for a turn."

It seems to be working pretty well, but we won't really know for a few more years !

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#10 of 11 Old 12-02-2007, 03:02 PM
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I think the best response is always to model the behavior you want your child to adopt. Be firm and say that made him hurt" or "look he is crying" he needs love he needs a boo boo bag ( something you can make for comforting) Show the one who is hurt most of the attention without being angry at the one who did the wrong behavior. Try to remember that until 2+ children are ego centered and will learn in time how to behave as humans with empathy.
Use quiet and calm times to talk about how you would like them to show respect for each other. Complement when they share with extra love!

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#11 of 11 Old 08-25-2014, 08:38 AM
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Unhappy The dominant twin, unchecked, rules the roost

I am grandmother to twin boys, now 8 who have a younger brother. My daughter-in-law followed the philosophy of not interfering. I see now that this did not establish a good pattern for raising these boys. Let me tell you how this has played out. I used to silently name the dominant twin, "the Bully Baby" because he got away with taking what he wanted. If the smaller twin resisted by holding on to what he was playing with, the "Bully Baby" cried like he was really hurt, and mother came to his rescue. Even today the dominant twin just grabs what he wants and gets away with it. The other twin almost always acquiesses. The boys are not friends; the submissive twin prefers to play by himself.
This has effected the younger brother so that he models the dominant twin, and they share a closeness. Dominant twin loves that he is the ruler of all three boys. So much control does he have that he has begun to become disrespectful to his mother when she tries to correct him. It is as if he really sees himself as the leader in the family.
While many say to let them figure squabbles out by themselves, I agree that they lack the skills to do this and a parent should interfere. If parents do not parent, the dominant twin rules the roost!
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