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Dutchess_III's avatar

Can someone with some experience with twins explain why my granddaughter keeps attacking her twin brother?

Asked by Dutchess_III (28254 points ) March 6th, 2014

Savannah and Kale are 14 months old. They’re great kids and normally Savannah is just the sweetest thing. But here lately, Savannah has taken to attacking her brother when they’re alone together. She bites and claws and scratches him. She only does it to him, no one else. It’s SO unlike her. Is this some sort of twin thing?

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27 Answers

Buttonstc's avatar

Sibling rivalry.

JLeslie's avatar

Sibling thing. Jealousy! Sibling rivalry. Positioning herself in the power position. I don’t think it is a twin thing, just a kid thing.

Buttonstc's avatar

It is usually worse with same sex twins. And trying to always emphasize the twin-ness doesn’t help either. Hopefully she stops dressing them alike once they’re older. They need their individuality.

I’ve had several sets of twins in my classes over the years. They’re generally quite opposite in personality. And the more they are compared to each other, the worse it makes the overall situation.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc That’s not my experience. The twins I know are incredibly close. Sure there is some fighting like most siblings, but twins seem to be incredibly connected, especially if they are the same gender. A girlfriend of mine, her twin babies had cribs set up in one room and before they fell asleep at night they would pass their toys between the bars to each other. They were the so sweet. They were good about taking turns and sharing most of the time.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well, I guess its different for everybody. I’m just referencing twins from my classes through the years.

But regardless, each child needs to develop their own distinct identity and that tends to manifest more as the years go by.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Buttonstc Why are you assuming she dresses them alike or emphasizes the twin thing? You said it with such certainty that it floored me.

JLeslie's avatar

I wondered that too. Plus, they are different sexes, how alike can they be dressed?

One girlfriend of mine only put each twin in certain colors, because she couldn’t tell the girls apart very well when they were very young.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, aside from the fact that one is a girl and the other is a boy, and one is white and the other is brown, and one has eyes so brown they almost look black, and the other has electric blue eyes, they’re virtually indistinguishable. Especially when Mom dresses them in the same clothes

NOT! Here is a recent pic of them.. Kale had black pants to go with his shirt.

Buttonstc's avatar

Most parents of twins tend to dress them alike for the first few months because they’re so thrilled to have twins. There are tons of family pics with twins under a year old in matching outfits.

SOME parents continue to do that and most twins dislike it. As newborns its very cute. After that it kind of fades.

So I guess from your reaction that she NEVER EVER got a set of matching anything for them ? Kind of unlikely, but fine by me. My deepest apologies for assuming that parents of newborn twins would ever think to put them in matching outfits of any sort whatsoever.

And maybe I lucked out and got in my classroom the most dysfunctional families with twins on the planet because comparing one to the other was the biggest problem I encountered with each of them.

So that was just more of a generalized word of caution based upon my experience (which is what you asked for) I certainly didn’t mean your daughter specifically does this. Besides they’re still too young to be aware of that. I was referring to school age kids.

How about just forget I answered this question altogether?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Never ever @Buttonstc, mainly because she doesn’t shop at retail stores where you have multiple selections of the same outfit. She gets their clothes at garage sales, Goodwill, and from friends.
If she DID shop at retail stores, I doubt she would have then, either. Because…one’s a boy and one’s a girl.
Don’t know what she’d have done if she’d had identical twins. I would hope she wouldn’t dress them alike. I know I would have discouraged it, for all the reasons you listed above.

Juliasmile's avatar

It probably is just sibling rivalry. I wouldn’t leave them alone until she grows out of this, and she will. I am a twin and have many friends who are also twins all of who are very close with their siblings.
I am curious as to which is the older?

Dutchess_III's avatar

They were born by C-sec. If they’d been born vaginally Kale would have come out first because he was on the bottom and sister kicked him in the head for 8 months. But because of the C-sec, Savannah came out first.
She’s a little bigger than him, usually starts new stuff first. He’s a couple weeks behind.

Juliasmile's avatar

Among my twin friends the second born seems to be the more assertive, my own twin included. The second also seems to be the mean one, or evil as I see it! LOL. The first born is smarter and prettier, though my sister would disagree (cuz she’s evil and mean)
Don’t stress too much, they are adorable children and she will outgrow it. BTW did I see red hair? Maybe that’s where the fire comes from :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

No. Think she’s gonna be blond or brown. It’s just so odd because it is NOT like her!

keobooks's avatar

OK I am going to buck the flow. I don’t think it’s a twin thing. They are too young to be jealous. They barely have a sense of self. There is an age when toddlers can become aggressive. Some bite and claw. Some scream. Some throw tantrums. She’s probably feeling some stress or anxiety when it happens. She needs some firm consistent structured discipline for it to stop.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc Just to make you feel better, if I had twins I’m sure once in a while I would put them in the same outfit, but I think most twin parents now are more aware of twins wanting to be their own person, so I think it is done less often. Sometimes twins probably want to be dressed the same, just like wanting the same toy. It probably changes depending on their age and stage and personalities.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@keobooks There is a bit of stress recently.

Juliasmile's avatar

There it is then, find a way to lessen this stress or help her find another way to express her feelings. I know she’s young and that my be difficult. I’m having trouble remembering just how small 14 months is at the moment. My youngest is 15, so that was a long time ago, but I think with patience it could be done.
Maybe give her a place that is all hers and hers alone. Call it her special spot where she can yell, scream, play, draw, nap anything she wants that her brother isn’t allowed. Have one for Kale too where his sister isn’t allowed. A bit of time apart might calm the situation.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I have boy / girl twins. I never dressed them alike how do you do that with opposite sex? The girl twin always seems to feel that the boy gets attention from Mummy, and then as they get older she feels he gets away with more. They’re just babies in the same environment, doing what babies do. It will pass.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: When @Buttonstc made reference to “so she never got a set of matching anything for them” and you responded about your daughter’s purchasing habits, that left out the fact that many clothes that parents have for their children are often purchased as gifts by other people. So his statement, to me, sounded like he was not only referencing the possibility of your daughter buying clothes for her children but also being given gifts, as a new parent, for her new twins.

Even if the clothes themselves were different, it would be possible to put them in matching blankets, matching hats, matching shoes, matching scarf and mittens, etc.

I know you are saying that’s not the case but I am just piggy backing onto what @Buttonstc said, as you obviously upset him with your defensiveness.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What upset me was his comment “And trying to always emphasize the twin-ness doesn’t help either. Hopefully she stops dressing them alike once they’re older. They need their individuality.”

Hopefully she stops dressing them alike once they’re older.

Doesn’t that strike you as a little bit arrogant?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Juliasmile that’s good advice. Unfortunately they’re quite limited on space. In fact, there isn’t room for a second crib in the bedroom, so they’re having to share a crib for the first time and that’s probably a big part of the problem. I mean, don’t know what they can do about that. My daughter’s fiance came up with really good idea though….he put a baby gate in the middle, effectively giving each kid ½ of the crib to call theirs. Obviously they’re going to outgrow that pretty quick, but by then my daughter and her fiance should have their own place (they’re currently staying with his mother and aunt.)
We just hate that it’s happening. It’s so mean, and she’s such a sweet child normally.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When I was a church goer I was a “teacher” in the infant’s room. One of the church members made some custom cribs for us. They were basically stacked, two or three high and there were 4 of those sets. They were enclosed on 3 sides. The front had bars and the whole front swung up (or down…don’t remember.)
Then one day some dimwit whined that they looked like CAGES so we had to get rid of them. That was SO dumb. Cribs ARE cages, nit wit.
I wish I could get my hands on one of those now!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I just called my old church to see if I could get my hands on a set of those cribs. However, if I remember correctly they were quite a bit smaller than regular cribs, so we’ll see.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I am a twin.
Do some research on the dynamics of twins…..yes there are some whose personalities clash while other sets get along well. ( i witnessed uncompatible twins physically fighting all the time…these types of twins should had been separated into differnt schools or classes).

One thing to note is that there is a dominant twin and a passive one, and that while they are establishing there place , that this struggle will continue between them throughout their lifetimes.
Much like two siblings fighting for their place in the family too.

In my case we got along quite well and did things together alot.
We never lacked for company, thus never felt alone in fact later this developed into needing space apart to develope on our own and to find privacy and our own individaities.

Looking back on it now at age 65 years, I have come to the conclusion that If I had twins I would NOT highlight the twin thing!
We both grew up with comparisons that were downright cruel.
We hated the attention brought on by parents .teachers,peers etc
We were not recognized for individuality.
I would rather had been allowed to develope on our own.
In one experiment we were separated into different classrooms for a year…it was excruciating at first but we talked together about our different friends and experiences which added to our compatibility.
Later in high school we strove to develope our own interests , friends , part time jobs to learn to rely on our own self rather than the other twin supporting, as should be to become a strong person.
if this is not encouraged..one will find the twins depending on each other too much and when later in life they eventually marry they may inadvertantly pair up with a partner whom resembles the needs that was supplied by the other twin.
We must all learn to stand on our own two feet in life.
Fortunately we separated ( she left school at age 17years of age..pregnant and lived a very difficult life…her choice) where I was devastated and worried but came out of that experience stronger and self reliant .
She married a dominant partner that fills her security needs and hopes for a better future, after three failed marriages, but she is now happy and contented.
I am self reliant and love my freedom after my children have grown and my husband and I divorced years ago.
I feel a freedom that I had never experienced before.I guess that is retirement?

snowberry's avatar

@Dutchess_III If the attacks started after they were forced to share a bed space (even though being separated by bars), that’s the source of the problem. Instead of a baby gate, put a visual barrier down there, and that should help resolve a lot of the problem.

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