We have 23 month old twin boys (I'll call them C&D) whom we have about 2 months ago transitioned away from a crib by taking away one side and creating an enclosure of sort (about 12 x 12 feet) which they can busy themselves with so they're not climbing out the other side into the adult area. We have a pretty established bed time routine from since they were small. However what we have noticed happening recently is that C would walk over and start riding on D like a horse, possibly hurting D and causing him to cry. This would happen soon after we leave the area (we have curtains to separate their area and ours), several times per evening. I tell C to say sorry to D and tell him not to do it again etc. nicely and with a stern voice but obviously it's not working.

Can anyone recommend a good way of discouraging or dealing with this behavior?

  • 2
    If you don't have any real consequences then the behavior will not stop.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 18:50
  • Explaining at this level to a 23 month old is like trying to explain the role of theta in a machine learning algorithm to me.
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 12:39
  • 1
    "2 years old" :) Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 8:03
  • Relevant: youtube.com/watch?v=Ximy_zn-XQU Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 6:22

3 Answers 3


My twins are always figuring out new ways to mess with each other. They're 29 months. Bedtime has always been hard. Whenever you change your strategy you should give it a week, 4 days minimum to see if there's any difference.

You could brute force it over and over, keep telling them it's not time for games, it's time for sleep, and lead them by the hand back to the bed. Eventually they will get tired and maybe even take the suggestion after a few days. I would probably keep the interaction to a minimum. Usually my twins are so exhausted they can't be reasoned with at that time of night. It takes all of their focus and attention just to answer yes and no questions. So I try to stay away from anything that involves them thinking and that might make them more alert.

What I find helps is that when they are doing the undesired behavior, I tell them that what they are doing is indeed playing, and that it's not time for games right now, it's time for sleep. I found that they don't often know what I'm talking about when I call "games" or "playing" or simply "that" in the phrase "stop that." They think playing is something you do with friends or in the playground so they were confused. It made a big difference when I said "That's playing. It's not time to play. It's time to sleep. I love you. You're a good boy. Goodnight."

Good luck! :(


  • +1 for IMHO the most sensible approach
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 12:52

Sounds like you found who has the dominate personality in your sons. Asking or telling a 23 month old boy is about as useful as telling a 23 year old boy not to do something.

My suggestion is to quickly address this situation by intervening, stating in a phrase which you say the same way every time what the unwanted behavior was, then immediately start a pre-planned consequence.

Flow of events:
C is Riding on D again!

Mishari comes into the room and takes a firm but caring hold of C.

Mishari states clearly: "You will not ride your brother. You are on timeout now."

Mishari puts C in a timeout spot and as long as it takes keeps putting C back in that spot until 2 minutes has passed (1 minute per year old).

I guarantee if you do this exact outline every time that C will get tired of it before you do and you've won the day and set yourself up for being a respected leader of your boys!

I personally don't know if apologizing does much good at this point. In another post I referenced some research that stated kids this age just don't understand empathy at all and teaching them a 'apologizing routine' simply hurts them from truly understanding how to apologize correctly later in life (ages 5-10 depending on the individual). I don't have that research available right now.

  • 1
    So how exactly does a timeout at bedtime help? Never been able to figure that one out. FYI I was one of those kids who, once in time out, would honestly prefer to stay there, so it could easily be my lack of understanding of the dynamic rather than a flaw in the concept.
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 12:36

Is there any way of putting the sides back on to the cribs? At this age, it's not the greatest idea to have them be able to run around. Or are they toilet trained already and need the access?

Another idea you can try is to convince them you have a magic mommy/daddy camera that can see when they come out of bed and or do mischief. After putting them down for the night, hover just outside the curtain and at the slightest sound of movement, come back into the room and remind them that you can see everything etc..

  • 1
    Lying to your kids is a good way to set your self up for later failures that are much more important
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 12:37

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