Do your twins regard each other as competition? Find out how to get them to work together instead.

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People often have the impression that twins share a special bond and are very close to each other. While this may be true, many twins also cope with rivalry at some point in their lives.

Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, explains, “Even before birth, twins often compete for resources within the womb. After birth, twins may compete for common resources, like parental attention, toys (parents may only buy one set), and even food.”

Twins are also often compared to each other, whether on purpose or by others as a “harmless” passing statement. Dr Lim notes, “The inevitable comparisons of the twins by parents, relatives and teachers can lead to competition and rivalry”.

“After birth, twins may compete for common resources, like parental attention, toys (parents may only buy one set), and even food.”

Psychologist Daniel Koh of Insights Mind Centre reckons that this competition between them starts at birth. He adds, “There are issues of identity, attention/love, the special one, achievements and more.”

If you’re weary of playing mediator between your tussling offspring, we have suggestions on how to reduce clashes between junior.

1. Get them to take up individual hobbies

Dr Lim suggests that you encourage your mini-mes to have different interests and hobbies, even though you may need to spend more time taking them to different classes. Extra effort aside, having individual hobbies and pursuits means that they won’t have similar interests for others to compare.


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2. Get them to work as a team

Teamwork, according to Dr Lim, will teach the twins to “care for each other, to share and work as a team. If they have a good relationship, rivalry is unlikely.” You can also encourage your offspring to compliment each other at least once a day or help each other out with at least one thing daily. You can teach them to work together to complete tasks ― this will help them realise that they’ll be able to accomplish more things with each other’s help!

3. Bond with them individually and equally

Koh suggests telling each one what you like about them ― like their passion for a particular subject, in addition to spending alone time with them on top of family time, so that your kids will enjoy individual attention. However, remember to resist comparing them! He stresses that you should give both equal support and reassurance, as well as discuss their feelings with them. This will also help you to find out what makes each of them upset and angry with the other.

“Step in and be neutral and focus on both so they feel that you have pride in both of them.”

4. Introduce time outs

If your kids are arguing too much, it may be better to call a time out, and separate them from each other for a period of time. Sometimes, being away from their sibling for a spell will give them some space and help them to calm down. You can also remove whatever it is that they are fighting over.

5. Don’t compare them with each other

Koh says that making certain statements that one child is better than the other, or asking why one child can’t be like their sibling will “reinforce that you are biased and spark rivalry”. Also, take note when others ― like relatives or friends ― begin comparing your children with each other.

His advice, “Step in, be neutral and focus on both, so that they know you are proud of the both of them.”

Dr Lim adds, “Parents need to be sensitive of these and while praising one child, they should not forget to encourage [instead of comparing] the other”.

Photos: iStock

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