As a parent, managing sibling rivalry can be tough, especially with twins. Conflict begins as your twin children compete for dominance, parental attention, and independence- each vying for their place in the spotlight. How does twin sibling rivalry differ from rivalry shared between singletons? And what is the parent’s role in diffusing conflict?
Sibling Rivalry Between Twins
Episode 18, April 8th, 2014
Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: When it comes to sibling rivalry, twins are in a special category of their own. As a parent of twins, you have probably seen your two-some fight over what seems like the silliest things and then make up and become friends all within five minutes. Their twin bond gives them a unique advantage and a challenge to getting along.
I’m Dr. Lori Rappaport, clinical psychologist and founder of the Growing Up Great Parenting Program. I’m here to talk about: “Managing sibling rivalry between twins.” This is Twin Talks Episode Number 18.
[Theme Music/ Intro]
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Welcome to Twin Talks broadcasting from the Birth Education Centre of San Diego. Twin Talks is your weekly online on-the-go support group for expecting and new parents to twins. I’m your host Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald.
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Another way for you to stay connected is by downloading our free Twin Talks App. It’s available in the Android and iTunes Marketplace. Before we get started, let’s go around the room. We’ve got some panellists here and they are expert twin parents. Over here we start with Andrea.
Andrea Lehman: Hi I’m Andrea Lehman and I’m 43. I’m an economist. I have three kids – a 7 year old boy and 5 year old fraternal twin girls.
Kasey Haynes: I am Kasey Haynes. I’m 37. I’m a special education teacher at a middle school. I have a five year old girl and boy-girl twins at 21 months.
Shelly Steely: Shelly Steely, I’m the producer here at Twin Talks. I also teach high school history and I have identical twin boys who are just about 20 months.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Shelly, I think we wanted to make sure we let our listeners know we’ve got a special part on the Virtual Panellists Program?
Shelly Steely: Yes. So, you can follow us at home if you’re not able to be here in the studio. We have our Facebook Page. You can like us on Facebook and look for questions there. We also have Twitter. You can follow us there.
If you want to join the conversation through Twitter, you can use hash tag #TwinTalksVP. In that way you can give us your questions and we can let you interact from the comfort of your own home.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: All right and I’ll introduce myself as well. I’m your host Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald and I’m mom to twin girls that are 4 ½ years old. I also have a singleton who is 17 months old. So, we got all girls.
Shelly Steely: So, we’re always looking for headlines about twins in the news to keep you posted with the latest information. Recently, we found a family that thought that they were getting triplets and ended up with much more.
So, this family had trouble conceiving, decided to go through a surrogate and found out very early on that the family they were going to adopt from was having triplets. Family consider themselves very blessed. They thought they might never have one child and now they were going to end up with three.
Even crazier is that while they were waiting for the triplets to arrive. The mother found out that she was spontaneously pregnant with twins after years of infertility. So, she ended up with triplets and then just I think about less than nine months later, twins of her own.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: My gosh. So, we’re talking about five babies within a nine-month span?
Shelly Steely: Yes.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: To me, that was just mind boggling.
Shelly Steely: Yes from zero kids to five in less than a year.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: My gosh. I’d be interested – did she, do have different feeding routines for the first set versus the second set?
Shelly Steely: I just have no idea what you even do with that many small children.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Definitely need some. I’m thinking: “Gosh, when I have twins, I had an extra set of hands for the first couple of months.” So, you need maybe two to three adults. I don’t know.
Kasey Haynes: It’s interesting. I was pondering in my head. Okay, bottles that’s one thing – they were the ones on solids and the ones were not on solids. I’m thinking: “Bath time.” My gosh, bath time.
Andrea Lehman: You need a big net. You just dip them all in and then lift them and then lift, hold them back out.
Shelly Steely: I think you probably just bathe two kids a day, right? As long as there – I’ll rotate them through. Get one of those – you know those kidney tables they have in kindergarten classrooms. You’ll probably just sit each one of them in one of those.
I mean I wouldn’t think that it was strange for me to find out that they didn’t know that the mom they were adopting from was having triplets when they sign the paper work. Gosh, that must have been a surprise in of itself. It did say that they’re involved in their church and they got plenty of people signed up and helping out.
Kasey Haynes: That’s awesome.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: I have to say: “Gosh, adaption I think that’s such a noble thing.” Then to do three, there’s probably they could have said: “Well, wait a minute. We’re over our heads but continuing to do that – that is amazing.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Today’s topic is: “Managing sibling rivalry between twins.” We’re here with Dr. Lori Rappaport looking at: “How we can help our twins channel their natural instincts into more collaboration and less conflict.”
I should know our speaker today – she is actually an expert in twins as well because she’s a mom of twins.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: I much survived that they’re in college now. So, they’re turned 19 a month ago. They’re sandwiched between a 22 year old and a 16 year old. So, yes – the early years were quite active.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Well, tell us – help us understand what sibling rivalry is in the general sense.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: In the general sense, sibling rivalry is normal and it happens in all families and it’s basically jealousy and competition and fighting between siblings. It happens when you have more than one.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: So, any kids whether they are boy-girl, girl-girl?
Dr. Lori Rappaport: All kids have those issues. At any given time, they’re angry about something, they’re jealous about something. They’re jealous and fighting for parents’ attention, for the control of the television, for the first seat in the car – any of those things that start early on as early as before they can walk.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Usually, we think of this as being based on conflict and we think of it as very being very negative. Are there any positive aspects to sibling rivalry?
Dr. Lori Rappaport: Yes, there are a lot of positive aspects. If you think about the family is being the place where you learn relationships and it’s your first place to understand how to relate to people.
Having a sibling is an important thing because you are learning:
• How to give and take
• How to share
• How to negotiate
• Conflict resolution
• Caring about someone
• Recognizing that there are people that have feelings and other people have wants and desires and that’s all very, very important.
When you don’t have a sibling and you don’t have that experience because as parents, if you have only one child, we do everything that child wants. We don’t really say: “No, I don’t want to play candy land. I want to play chutes and ladders.” We go with them.
So, they really don’t get that experience of having to wait and getting frustrated and negotiation in conflict. So, it’s a very, very important thing and it’s healthy.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: So, this is really an important part of what we’d say: “Socialization.” We all know that twins seem to get socialization much more socialization than singletons would.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: Right, exactly. I think everybody enters kindergarten with a different need. Some need to learn how to be socialized and how to share, how to interact especially if they don’t have siblings.
Other kids need how to figure out their individuality when they are sometimes part of a sibling group either many siblings or a multiple where they don’t have as many opportunities to focus on themselves and develop their own identity. So, everyone has a different task at that point.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: How about twin sibling rivalry compared to sibling rivalry between the kids at the different ages? How was it different? Is it very different?
Dr. Lori Rappaport: Well it is different just like almost everything is different when you have multiples. Going to Starbucks is different. You can’t carry two baby seats and then have a hand for a drink. So, it is different. But, twins have built in bodies and that is a great thing.
We all know when you have twins and you need to run an errand, they have someone to be with. But twins also then have natural built in competition. There’s a natural mirror. There’s a natural comparison for us as parents. Why is she doing that and she’s not doing that? Who did something first? So, it makes it a little bit more difficult because there’s more competition among twins.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Now, for those here, our panellists, we’ve got more than twins plus one. Do you see any difference between the way that your twins are interacting between themselves or with your other kids?
Kasey Haynes: I definitely see a difference. Having just a singleton, she had a cousin and they were three-months apart. So, you saw I guess that type of rivalry but when the twins came along, I remember going on to a chat group and being like: “Okay, somebody please tell me this is normal because they’re fighting. Why are they fighting?
They shouldn’t be fighting. They’re too young to fight. What’s going on? Do I do something wrong?” It is very different.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Anyone else?
Andrea Lehman: Our first Christmas picture – my twins were born in October. We have this photo where one looks like she’s punching the other one in the nose. It just sorts of and in that age; of course, it’s not deliberate.
But just the fact of having two of them, wanting, having the same needs at the same time; things are so overwhelming. Comparing to having the one; it’s just – well, I’ve heard so many say: “Having the second kid, this is even with multiples but it’s not double the work, it’s exponential.”
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Absolutely, yes.
Andrea Lehman: With twins, I don’t know to the third power.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: What’s different is: “There’s not a natural boundary that there is between singletons where you have a two-year old and maybe a five-year old.” The five year old has a capacity to understand a little bit differently. So, there’s a different boundary and different expectations.
Twins also can share room. They spend a ton of time together. They might be on the same classrooms. So, there really isn’t that space for them in the same way to develop their own individuality. Often times, as parents sometimes out of need and sometimes because we don’t think about it. We keep them together all the time and we’re reluctant to take one to the grocery store and leave one.
So, splitting them or taking one to do something and not the other. So, we create this togetherness and this lack of a boundary between them where they don’t get to experience that individuality quite as often as our singletons do because one might be in school and one might be home with you.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: So, now the words were really are encouraged just kind of out of subconscious we’re creating this situation.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: Well, in some ways – one of the things parents talk about in general not just parents of twins is making things fair. What you have to realize is: “Parents life is not fair.” If life were fair, kids would hate that because that means because if I get to go on a play date but your sibling doesn’t have one, you don’t get to go on one. If somebody has a piece of chocolate at school but the other one isn’t going to get one in their class, you can’t have it.
So, when you explain it to kids like that, they don’t want the world to be fair. But in the moment, when somebody gets to leave with mom and the other person isn’t going or someone want to do something that they didn’t get to do, they cry: “It’s not fair.” When you explain: “Well, are you sure you want things fair?” They usually think about it and we worry about being fair.
But it all does come around in the end, someone may go with you somewhere one day but the other one may go another day or someone may have a play date and have that opportunity but in a couple of weeks, the other one will have that opportunity. In the end, we assume that it’s all going to shake out.
Again, the only difference there and the only time it is different is often when you have a sibling with special needs and there’s a difference between the two. But, in the typical pair of twins, eventually it all kind of becomes even.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Like I would say.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: Yes.
Shelly Steely: So, what I’ve experienced is that – I keep hearing that we need to take them separately and spend independent time with them and let them do things. But, does any twin mom know how? Do you that when you got one parent at home during the day, one parent at work or you have errands or other kids?
To me, it always seems so completely overwhelming because to do things separately with them seems to double our work load for twin moms. So, you kind of feel like: “A little bit of guilt because you’re keeping them together out of convenience.”
Dr. Lori Rappaport: Well, don’t feel quilt because that’s a practicality. We’re really talking about opportunities to be creative. That might be when your partner is home and you have to run out to the market rather than leave them both, take one. It’s much easier when you’re a twin mom; taking one kid is a breeze. When you’re a twin mom with other children, if you have four kids taking three is a piece of cake.
Once you’re down one from whatever number you have, life feels different. So, you take one to the market with you or on a Sunday morning, you’re going to go for a run or go do something you just take one. It doesn’t have to be every day. It doesn’t have to be all the time. It might even be taking one and going to give them a bath and leaving the other one with someone else. Reading a book in a room and not assuming that both of them have to hear the book at the same time.
When you look at the studies that look at what’s reinforcing to kids – it’s not buying them toys, it’s time with the parent that most kids will say – if they’re getting rewarded and we do all those wonderful charts and we say: “We’ll go to Toys R’ Us and pick you out.” It’s not really about that. It might be just going for a frozen yogurt or going to the park with your parent by yourself.
So, that’s an important thing to think about and we can all be creative in some way or another to figure out a little bit of time each time each week. It could be as little as 15 minutes or even 5 minutes to read a book that gives them that individual time and makes them feel special and unique.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: That certainly is important. I’m shifting gears a little bit here. Now, one question that seems to come up I think between a lot of us twin parents is: “Does birth order have any effect on sibling rivalry?”
Dr. Lori Rappaport: You know birth order if you’re talking about twin birth order – the twins really don’t remember who came out first but we make an issue of it. If you think about it, parents will say: “He’s older or she’s older or she’s a minute older.” We start to attribute long before they have any idea, we attribute those characteristics – she’s bossy but she’s the older one.
We do that in a lot of ways not just with birth order but with the athletic one versus the creative one; or the quiet one versus the active one and when we label kids in that way, especially when they’re young, it becomes sometimes a self-fulfilling prophecy – and it also limits them from feeling like they can venture into the area that the other twin is quote the expert in.
So, it’s really important to us as parents to be cautious about labelling and making those kinds of generalizations because the kids absorbed that long before they can even speak.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: So, it’s really our projections upon them. Now, in my case I’ll just say: “My girls – we’ve never actually had discussions about who came out first.” So, they’re really not even aware of: “Who is Twin A and who is Twin B?” So, it doesn’t really factor in at all. It’s kind of a non-issue. So, I don’t have anyone here have that.
Andrea Lehman: My mother in law give the girls, one girl the big sis shirt which I thought was bizarre and I wish had confiscated it before it ever came out of the box. But, she’ll say: “I’m Baby A.” She’ll introduce herself. She went through a phase, she introduced herself: “I’m Baby A and I’m Baby B.”
But, in terms of the behaviour and the rivalry, I don’t see it. I’m kind of sad that I don’t have a middle child because the middle child is the peace maker, right – an overly responsible in this or that.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: Not always.
Andrea Lehman: I feel like this
Dr. Lori Rappaport: I do have two middle children. I don’t think either one creates peace in my family.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: I mean a lot of us here have younger twins here. In what age do you think most parents start to see different types of the signs of a twin sibling rivalry?
Dr. Lori Rappaport: You can see it as early as they can move and be near each other. They can roll over and grab something away from each other or push or get annoyed or crawl over each other. But, you often see at toddlerhood is more of the time where people tend to see that because they are starting to assert their needs and their awareness. They can physically get around each other.
They have a very limited tool bag of verbal words to use to express how they feel. So much of it at that time is physical. So, we see a lot more rivalry in that way because as they get frustrated, they start to grab, push or hurt, bite pinch to get what they’re wanting from the other one.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: That’s interesting because I think many of us think of the rivalry as being more in verbal communication. But, clearly, I’m saying: “It’s the physical action of just competing for space even.”
Dr. Lori Rappaport: Well, because underneath of all is really that competition, the jealousy and that need for independence. Later on, they get extremely verbal. If you have girls, they’re very verbally aggressive. We know girls are using verbal aggression a whole lot more than the boys do. Boys are much more physically aggressive for a longer time because girls tend to develop their language a little bit faster.
Yes, they can become extremely mean. But, in the early years when we’re talking when sibling rivalry first emerges, there’s a lot of “mine” and a lot of physical demonstrative behaviour to back that up.
Andrea Lehman: With my twins was always ahead with verbal and fine motor. One was always ahead with the growth. So, the one that started walking first – the other one was so mad. She would pull her over. She would knock her over. She walked by, she knock her over.
Kasey Haynes: When you’re talking about the physical – that’s my girl can be more verbal than my son. But, my son is very physical. We’ve had the biting, the hitting. We’ve had Choked Holts. We’ve had take-downs.
Even at day care, we already have him doing the time outs because at day care, he will do it to her there. She’s the in the face with the finger no, no, no. Sometimes she will get aggressive and there’s a lot of fighting over my lap, a lot. It’s like I’ve got two knees. I’m not that small, everybody can fit but it does not work.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: So, one of the ways to deal with that when they’re fighting over something in particular – let’s say it’s a toy. It’s taking the toy away. It’s timing out the toy. You give them a warning and say: “Look if you can’t figure out how to share this then it’s going away.” Laps can be the same thing. If you can’t figure out to sit without doing that, nobody gets to sit.
So, rather than say: “Okay, one or the other and you referee it, you make it so that it’s off limits to everyone so they learn that when they do that with each other, they lose what they want; not mom referees it in who wins.” Who does mom go to first?
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Well, we’ve got a lot of great discussions going on. When we come back, we’re going to talk about: “How parents can really help their twins learn how to work through this rivalry.”
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Well, welcome back. Today, we’re talking with Lori Rappaport about: “How to manage twin rivalry.”
Let’s look at some of the things that parents can do to help twins reduce that friction. So, we’ve talked about – we can start dive into: “How parents can address that especially with young kids.” Now, are there any particular ages or phases when sibling rivalry is more intense or is it just kind of constant throughout?
Dr. Lori Rappaport: It changes over the course of your kids’ developmental span in your house. It can be very physical early on and then it gets more emotional and more intense. It really depends a lot on kids’ personalities on the constellation of the family. Are they the only ones there? Are there two more or three more siblings around?
So, it’s really hard to say because in some families, it can be more in the younger years. Some families it can be more in the middle or older years.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: I think you’re saying also that: “If we have additional children, if those are introduced to the family that might could change the dynamics and intensify it.”
Dr. Lori Rappaport: You might see the twins align. I’ve seen that with families that I’ve worked with where the twins aligned again with each other against other siblings in the family. They have a special bond. They get along really well. But, it’s their rivalry with the other kids in the family who were the singletons who feel sort of the outside outnumbered – two-against-one.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Well, at what can parents do and what should the parents’ role be in diffusing conflict between the two?
Dr. Lori Rappaport: Well one common mistake that we make as parents is: “We rush to get angry at the child who if were see in conflict initiates it. So, we know that attention in any form is good – negative as well. So, here we are you’ve got this injured child maybe or the one who lost their toy and we’re running and focusing on the other one while that one’s crying.
It’s really important to go to the other child first when you see the conflict happen because you don’t want to reinforce the child you see aggressor getting all the attention. You want to ignore them and sit and talk to the other one. What happened? Yes, I saw that. I’m so sorry that wasn’t very nice of him. It looked like he wanted your crayons and he shouldn’t have grabbed them. We don’t grab things from people.
So, as you talk to the other child to help validate their feelings – the way you say it, the other twin is listening too. So, you’re not really directing your conversation solely to the consolable twin. You’re really trying to get the other twin to understand what just happen. You’re observing the interaction and you’re explaining what went on and that’s a very important thing to do.
Because they need to learn the process of what happen not just you referee and deal with the outcome – because otherwise, it will happen again. We want them to see how they got there and what they need to do to avoid getting there in the future. So, when you watch – for a rule as when you look at conflict rather than stepping in fix it and referee because then it becomes conflict between you and them. You’re picking who gets what.
But, it’s much better to observe what you’re seeing to know and make an observation of what their feelings are, why they’re angry, reiterate that, give them empathy and ask them how they might handle this. Well, Jay you want those crayons to use and Bobby you’re wanting those too. How are you going to figure that out? How can you both use the red one at the same time? What can you do?
So, you can be a part of the conversation without being the deciding factor. The last thing we want to be sometimes you don’t want to hear the word: “Mom.” You don’t want to be a referee. You don’t want to add that.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Mom.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: Right and you don’t want to add that to your list. Often times, you can feel like the referee. So, tattling is a big one too. We don’t want to encourage tattling yet we do need to know when kids are doing unsafe behaviours.
So, we encourage them oftentimes come talk to us rather than to take it to their own hands and be physical. But we’ve got to be careful that we follow through with it. If we ask kids to come to us and they tell us what’s going on and then we don’t assist in the process, they’re going to get frustrated pretty quickly and stop coming and take it into their own hands.
So, if we ask them to come, we need to stop and sit down and understand what’s happening, not fix it but facilitate that interaction between the two of them.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: So, facilitation really is taking on the role of more of a coach rather than the referee and guiding them through that process like you’ve mentioned the process and maybe you can kind of summarize that again. What are sort of the steps that the parents need to go through?
Dr. Lori Rappaport: One thing you have to look at is: “The age of your kid.” So, if you’re talking about the young toddlers, the 2’s even into the 3’s, there’s not a lot of rationalizing that we can do and discussion. It’s almost better to redirect them and distract them to kind of comment in what you see.
Notice: “Well you’re angry because you both wanted to use crayons. What if someone uses this one and someone use that one and then you can trade? So, you help them come up with an option and generate an option because at that age, they’re not going to be able to. They’re going to be kind of stuck” so, if you can distract them and redirect them at work.
With a little bit older kids, the 4’s, and 5’s – they understand feelings a little better so you want to: “Describe what you see, label the anger you see.” The angry feelings that you see; give them empathy for: “Yes, it’s frustrating when you have a colour you want to use and you can’t use it right away and you want to colour that part of the picture. I can see. Is there another part of the picture you can colour while you wait?”
So, you try to give them some options and then step back and see if they can work it out. So, what do you guys going to do? How are you going to handle this? You kind of help them with both sides of that and then step back and see if they can address it together.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: So, on 4 and 5 – I know my girls. They’re definitely getting to the point where they can – we talked about: “How can we share and can we do take turns? Do we want to count to thirty and you get to play with this one, you can get to play with that.” I’m just curious here. What are some of the ways that you guys have offered some solutions?
Kasey Haynes: It’s been a little bit difficult. Right now, one of the issues we have and it’s not out of malice. My son will take something that my daughter’s playing with and the fun thing to do is to: “Take it and run.” Her first reaction is to: “Scream.” So then, I go up to her and try to talk to her in the best way possible at 21 months.
In the mean time he sees that and a lot of times I’ll say: “Can you please give that back to your sister?” He’s getting better about that. They’re getting better. I’ll say: “Can you please give this to your sister?” Can you please – sometimes it work, sometimes it backfires on me. I’m really trying but it’s not easy.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: It sounds like a game for him.
Kasey Haynes: Yes.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: He enjoys the attention. What he’s getting from you is: “Okay, can you please” and he’s got all this power in control. So, what I would suggest if you see it – now it’s different when you don’t see things in often we don’t. But, if you see him take that then you want to let her scream and go address him and say: “It’s not okay to steal things from people and you need to go to time out.”
I would put him in time out for taking things away and running with it. So, it’s an aggressive behaviour. It’s not biting or kicking but it still is an aggressive behaviour. You’re grabbing something and running that doesn’t belong to you. If you flash forward, where does that get you 10 years from now? Not a good thing in middle school.
Kasey Haynes: No.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: So, really important to teach them and we reserve time out for aggressive behaviour. We don’t reserve time out because you’re whining but we use time out because you’re kicking or you’re biting or you’re screaming and that’s very important to use right away.
I would put that behaviour in that category and then I would go talk to your daughter. It wasn’t very nice. Empathize with her feelings but then let her know: “But, you don’t need to scream.” You can say: “That wasn’t nice.” So, give her something else to do, to deal with the feeling she has rather than scream.
Shelly Steely: In that same being kind of what I’ve noticed is: “I have one of my sons will take toys and we call him swiper because he just like walks and snatches it.” But, what I’ve noticed is – the problem is that: “So, Sawyer will take a toy more often than Greyson would.”
But a lot of times, Sawyer would just walk over and kind of demand the toy but offering him. Greyson will hand it right over and then start crying. How do I convince this child like if you wanted the toy, don’t give it to your brother.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: Well, it’s hard to rationalize at that age because your kids are what 20 months?
Shelly Steely: Yes.
Dr. Lori Rappaport: But you’re opening up a topic we could have a whole show about which is: “The personality as they emerge there.” It’s one that might be the leader or the more assertive and one that really doesn’t have a lot of needs and 90% of the time is willing to give up and doesn’t care.
How do you as a parent when you watch that, it’s so difficult especially you as a parent identify with that underdog child because you were like that and your siblings treated you like that. So, much of how we respond to sibling rivalry has a lot to do with our own family history, at our own experiences as siblings with or without.
We often feel most protective of those siblings who have the same birth order as we do or if siblings who are aggressing toward one where you have that same situation in your family.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: I would imagine too when we see the younger kids and they become really physical either hitting, biting and I’m sure that – I know for me, it strucks a nerve because I feel like: “Wow, the one who’s being attacked is very vulnerable.” So, what would you say to the parents whose twins are more physical in that regard?
Dr. Lori Rappaport: It’s normal behaviour because until you have really the language and the capacity to say what you’re feeling, you express it by being physical but there has to be a: “No tolerance.” It’s not: “Don’t do that. We’ve talked about that.” It’s an immediate time out. That is the behaviour.
Those physical behaviours are zero tolerance and need to go to time out, not with anger in a very neutral way but a very clear message, we don’t hit. We don’t bite. You need to be in time out. You put that child in time out. If they get physical with each other which often happens and it’s hard to know who started – they both go to time out.
With twins, it’s extremely important to have two time outs basis. With singletons, we have one and that’s fine. With twins, there’s often a time where we have both of them there. So, we’ve have to have two spaces very separate from each other, two very separate clocks, clocking their time so that you are not the monitor of that.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Doing a twin time out, would they have the same amount of time as each other or does it depend on sort of the severity of one big and aggressor and the other one reacting to it?
Dr. Lori Rappaport: The purpose of timeout isn’t punishment. It’s truly a timeout. It’s you’ve gotten out of control and you can’t get a handle on your behaviour and you’ve done something that shows you’re out of control and you need to figure that out. We as many times you say to a child: “Stop.” They don’t because we can’t control their behaviour, only they can.
So, timeout is really a tool to teach them how to calm down and be in control. So, it’s not punishment. The rule of thumb is: “One minute per year.” So, if you have two-year old twins, you’re going to be in time out for two minutes regardless of what they did. Following that if they’re not calm down, we give them two more minutes.
So, we’ll give them another time out if they’re still screaming, raging, running to hit somebody again or do something that deserves – often times kids go in and out of time out in the morning because they’re getting very physical and very active. That’s okay.
Don’t think it’s not working which often parents say: “It doesn’t work and we give up.” Keep putting them in timeout. You have to be consistent. You have to follow-through every time so they realize: “Okay, this isn’t going to work, is it? I’m going to be back here.”
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: Well, thanks Lori for joining us today. For more information about: “Managing sibling rivalry between twins” or for more information about any of our experts or panellists, you can visit our episode page on our website. This conversation does continue for members of our Twin Talks Club.
Then after the show, Dr. Rappaport will share extra tips for redirecting your twins to collaboration. For more information about The Twin Talks Club, visit our website www.TwinTalks.com .
Shelly Steely: We’ve got a question from one of our listeners who called in to our voice mail. It’s Allison from Massachusetts. She says:
I’m caring twins and I was told that there is a high risk of gestational diabetes compared to singletons. Is this true and is there anything that I can do to prevent it?
Sean Daneshmand: Allison, my name is Sean Daneshmand. I’m a perinatologist at the San Diego Perinatal Centre. Excellent question, yes with twin gestations – we think it’s because of the increase of hormones but you are in increase risk of developing gestational diabetes if you have any family history of it.
For example, if mom have diabetes or let’s say you have a very large baby that you delivered previously. You want to get screen much earlier. If you’re body mass index is more than 30, you want to get screen earlier in the pregnancy. How you avoid it is: “Your preconception body weight is within normal limits.” That only reduces the chance of this. Again, eat very healthy.
So, I tell patients: “More fruits and vegetables obviously; a lot more vegetables.” I tell patients: “Limit your animal base protein during pregnancy.” I maybe saying things that nutritionist may not like. But again, it’s targeting inflammation. We always talk about inflammation is the key factor.
So, anything that potentially more inflammatory, avoid. The more basic foods you consume, the better it is; the healthier it is because your body PH is 7.36. Your body cells reside in a more outlined environment.
So, alkaline types of foods are foods are:
• Grains – those things.
So, the best way to avoid it – again, I’m going to go back to the question is: “Before you get pregnant, but during pregnancy, really watch what you’re eating, makes you’re exercising; exercise is very important during pregnancy.” We don’t talk about it as much but again, at least 30 minutes of some sort of aerobic activity.
If you’re physician or your diet care provider, it doesn’t see any other contra indications to exercise, definitely do that. Those all will help reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald: So, that wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Twin Talks. Join in on the discussion by posting your comments on The Twin Talks Facebook Page or by calling our voice mail at 619-866-4775.
Don’t forget to check our sister shows:
• We have Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed their babies and
• Parent Savers; an online support group for the new parents.
Next week, we’ll be talking about: “Breastfeeding away from home.” This is Twin Talks, parenting times two.
This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
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