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I have twin boys aged 15 months. They normally fight for a toy or anything new. Earlier it was a slap on the other's head with the toy or hand, but now they have started biting each other. Is there any way we can discourage this and encourage sharing?

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Hitting and biting are natural things for toddlers to do. Part of your job is to teach them how to do something different. It's hard, and I'm sure it's harder still when there are two of them in that stage together. Some of what you can do:

  • every time, every single time, you see any hitting or other physical interaction, you gently separate them - just out of arms reach, not different rooms - and remind the hitter or hitters "we don't hit"
  • never hit them yourself. Model what you want them to do. Don't hit or bite the aggressor to show him what it's like
  • once they can talk, remind them to use their words to express their feelings. Give them things they can say like "I want a turn" or "I was using it"
  • translate for the hitter: tell the hittee "your brother is telling you he wants a turn" but don't enforce what the hitter wanted such as insisting the hittee hand over the toy, let the children decide what to do with the information you're providing
  • tell the hitter "I won't let you hurt your brother" - this is powerful to both of them. They love each other and don't want to see each other hurt, even by each other

Finally, if you can arrange their lives to minimize conflict at this young age, do try that. Having only one of something means they will tussle over it. Being put within reach of each other while tired, hungry, or confined means they may take out their frustrations on each other. Don't set them up to fail; set them up to succeed. They'll get lots of chances to share and to sit together nicely, so try to make the majority of their day smooth: enough toys to go around, each sitting in their own space instead of right next to each other, each sleeping in their own crib, etc. Space and money might not let you create entire parallel existences, but twins are often asked to meet a much higher bar of sharing and co-operation than singletons: make sure you're not setting it too high.

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  • It's a constant effort of teaching them to share and play together instead of competing for what they want for themselves. :) – Amir Syafrudin Feb 5 '14 at 22:51

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