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Aggressive behaviour in Twins


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I know this question gets asked lots and lots but I am feeling so helpless at the moment and this post may get jumbled as I remember things.

We have twin boys (just turned 4) who are always fighting. Not just any fighting - they can be really aggressive to one another. They start outside when they are waiting to come in and will always be pushing, shoving and hitting one another. They come to me 3 days a week (we are essentially child care for the parents) and I can see the other parents' faces fall if they turn up on the other two days.

We are overrun with boys at the moment so our main resources reflect this with lots of construction, painting, big things etc being out most days. Of course we don't ignore the girls and still manage to cater for them as well. The other boys are quite happy to play/construct with the resources out but we find that the twins prefer to run up and down pushing and shoving each other and anybody else that gets in their way. One of them has started to access the free craft area but finds that this twin will come and distract him to get him away and to play with him. This does work both ways when the other one is doing jigsaws etc. They will put their faces right up to the other one to get a reaction which ends with the one who is doing something leaving the area to fight his twin. We have free flow and they seem to enjoy being outside but again it always ends with them fighting. We have tried looking at what is out to see if they are either bored by it or don't like it but it seems that whatever we try they don't access any of it for any length of time. They are both very heavily interested in Superheros and have today been trying to 'kill' each other along with some of the other children. We don't get a lot of input from the parents as we only see them in the morning as the boys go to other children's houses afterwards as both parents work but we get the impression that they are left pretty much to their own devices at home. Following a conversation with one of them they play with Dad on the XBox and he is the baddie and they have to chase him and stop him. We do speak to them but are finding that we are doing so every 10 minutes, or so it feels, as they can't seem to stop the aggression towards one another.

We have tried to do focus activities with them separated but they can't concentrate as they are always looking for the other one. We have tried to do focus activities with them both together but within minutes it all falls apart and they are knocking ten bells out of one another.

I am sorry this is so long and thank you for reading to the bottom and would like your thoughts on the following questions - Is this a by-product of being a twin? A boy? 4 years old? Will they grow out of it or am I right to be concerned? Do I look at them separately and try to get help from our Inclusion officer for their behaviour? Unfortunately, this now involves filling in forms as they can't just come and see you these days. If I go this way I have to speak to mum so how will she feel when I tell her that both her children are badly behaved and how do I word it.

They will be leaving me at the end of this half-term to go to a Nursery class at the local school and part of me wants to give up and just ride it out for the next 5 weeks but the other part of me says I can't and I have got to be seen to be doing something.

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I dont have any answers but please dont shelve this for the school nursery to cope with--at the very least it will help everyone if you can provide written records of the problems and the strategies that have been employed--even if they have failed this will beuseful shoulld intervention become inevitable as I feel it almost certainly will.

I dont think this is normal behaviour for twins, boys or 4 yr olds. I think you have probably already gone some way to identifying the problem re home and how they interact with dad. There may also be other issues.

Is it possible for you to go to the school, sooner rather than later to talk about these boys and aid transition. Is it possible for them to be in separate classes or groups, although I wouldnt normally advocate splitting twins this may help in a new situation.

I have been the receiving teacher in a reception class of a child that the preschool hoped would settle differently in school. He didnt, it was a nightmare and was actually quite difficult for us as a school to source the help he needed as although the problem was not new, we had no evidence to support us.

Good luck. I hope someone else will have some other ideas for you.

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I really don't want to leave it to the school to sort as I don't think it's fair and in the past we have found if we have raised concerns before they go they seem to get the support needed.

I do know that I will have to bite the bullet and get mum involved sooner rather than later but just need to catch her. She is away at the moment due to her father being ill and dad just drops and runs as he has to get to work.

The school they will be going to is really small so don't have the capability of splitting them and I have their keyworkers gathering the evidence I need as we speak.

I think I just needed somebody to confirm in my mind that their behaviour is not 'normal' (if there is such a thing) so thank you very much.

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Hi starsdance - I really feel for you - I echo Susan's advice really.......but would just add that 4 year old boys do have a 'burst' of testosterone which may account for some of their behaviour - but not all of it........I find it quite sad to think that this is how they live life.......I have two brothers in pre-school at the moment - they are as 'good as gold' for me - phew :1b but I am always 'surprised/shocked' to see just how aggressive their behaviour is toward each other once 'out' of pre-school.........

I also have a set of twins (girls) and they can argue for England with each other but have responded really well at pre-school - we do tend to try to separate them whenever possible - parents are very keen for them to spend time interacting with other children - but naturally they are very drawn to being together.

Not sure that any of that helps.

Think that you know what you need to do - set up a meeting with parents - you didn't mention (or I missed it) how long they have been with you?

Good luck :1b

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I'm back! xD

Have been thinking about this - I'm sure you are doing this already - making sure that the boys receive lots and lots of praise when they are behaving well........

Also - I don't really understand why you have said 'essentially we are child care for the parents' - could you (if you want to) elaborate.......

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Hi, sorry for the delay in getting back. Mum, as probably every other working mum, will send them elsewhere if she can't get anybody to collect them on the days they are in. The lady she uses was ill the other week so they went to grandparents as she couldn't get back in time to collect them from us. We operate a lunch club with afternoon sessions twice a week so we can have them potentially up till 2.30pm. The school nursery they are going to only operate until 12pm with no ability to lengthen the days but that is not my problem any more!!

 

The upshot of the meeting with mum is that she signed the record of meeting form granting us permission to get the inclusion officer in the advise us with strategies to help us manage their behaviour more effectively but after speaking to her husband has now rescinded that. We have agreed to file the paperwork away but after speaking to the inclusion team we will be keeping it in case anybody brings up the fact we did nothing about their behaviour in the future.

We have also obtained a CD-ROM with role play resources that includes a superhero role play which we will be setting up before they leave us and after reading a few articles we are trying to change the behaviour away from 'killing' each other to 'saving' people who are in distress. I hope this helps us and them.

Regarding the agressive behaviour we are remaining vigilant and reminding the boys that we don't behave that way at pre-school and that we have to be gentle with each other. We have continued to praise them for nice and kind behaviour but in one breath you can be saying 'that was lovely how you did ..... but could you just stop strangling your brother' :o

Oh well, I think I have done all that I can and just need to keep their experiences with us as positive as we can and hope they remember some of it when they go to school.

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hi starsdance sometimes twins can be quite aggressive with each other especially if it is not handled well at home but 5 weeks is a huge amount of time in a little ones life and you can do wonders in that period. Firstly i think i would try to separate a bit more so if one goes out can one stay in and then swop...if they dont like it you can say it is because they keep fighting and they are upsetting their friends...if they want to comply then they can stay together but there will be no fighting! How do you handle the bad behaviour...they are old enough to do some time out. Can you teach them some chasing games like Whats the time Mr wolf or duck duck goose? this way they can do the chasing but in a more controlled way and can start to make relationships with the other children(i have found renaming things like duck duck goose to superman superman batman works quite well!!) They do appear to be quite immature ...do they access open ended resources well...like sand/water play etc?

I guess you need to consider the attention they are getting ...do they get as much attention for good and bad behaviour? and i would try to avoid words like nice and kind unless they really KNOW what this means and this may take some time to model

good luck!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi I have identical twin boys who are now 3 and they are physical with each other daily but are the best of friends! I do think that partly it is a twin thing as they are always together, it must get frustrating. Luckily they have never been violent towards anyone else - is this the case with the twins you are working with? Are they identical? There is an association called TAMBA (twins and multiple births association) that has lots of usual information for practitioners and parents. They have a twin line which may be able to give you some pointers.

Its open everyday from 10am-1pm and from 7pm-10pm on 0800 138 0509 (Freephone)

I find with my boys that often it can be an attention thing and sometimes it works to just ignore them and let them sort it out between themselves (as long as one isn't being completely battered by the other ;-) but I know this would be difficult in a setting! Mine often blame each other when things are going wrong or they are frustrated but at the same time I know they are the best of friends and would hate to be separated. They are closer to each other than they are to anyone else as they have never been apart. I would suggest not separating them but supporting them in playing nicely together with just the two of them before introducing other children into the mix, e.g. playing a turn taking game or throwing and catching a ball?

Hope you make some progress before they leave you

Kat

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