Twins… double the love, the fun, and the joy! But sometimes twins can be double the trouble – or at least that’s how it feels when sibling competition kicks into high gear and you’re trying to manage the chaos in “stereo.” And it’s not just twins. Parents with siblings close in age can experience the same frustration. So what can you do to help keep the peace and nurture the amazing relationship between your twins or close in age kids? Try these 3 simple strategies to keep sibling competition at bay…

Fill their ‘attention buckets’ separately.

Kids want and need our individualized time and attention. However, all too often with twins or siblings close in age, attention is given as a unit rather than one-on-one, and that creates competition. All kids want to find their very own spot in your heart and in your family’s dynamic that is exclusively theirs. To give kids the emotional connection they crave and a secure sense of belonging in your family, be sure to spend individualized time with each child on a daily basis. It may take a little re-balancing of your routine, but it’s so worth it. If you have a parenting partner, “divide and conquer” so you can both spend quality time with each kid one-on-one. If that’s not possible, engage one child in a solo activity (reading a book, homework, even a video game as a last resort) while you spend 15 minutes or so with his or her sibling, and then switch. Your kids will love that time with you that’s all about them! When you begin the individual “special time,” your kids may want to encroach on each other’s time out of curiosity, sheer habit, or the fact that they don’t want their sibling to have “alone” time with you. (That sibling jealously is the precise reason your one-on-one time is so essential!) Fortunately, with a little training and patience, they’ll come to love and appreciate the “just me” time with you and it will help keep some of that competitive spirit at bay.

Avoid labels.

Our society seems fixated on giving everyone a label. Old, young, tough, shy, successful, etc. Twins are no exception. While twins share many things in common, they are often labeled by their differentiators. “The Quiet One.” “The Funny One.” “The Spirited One.” Those labels might seem harmless but being compared to others, even the person closest to you or the one that looks like you – can be an ego blow and a fire starter for a feud. Even good labels like smart, brainy, or talented are hard titles to live up to. What’s more, a positive label for one child automatically implies the other holds the opposite label. (If you’re the “studious one” – I must be the “slacker.”) It’s best to leave the labels out of your conversations and gently remind others to do the same. Every kid has attributes that make them unique and special – focus on nurturing the whole of what makes your kids amazing rather than the one feature that creates comparison.

Unique vs. Unit.

It’s easy to treat twins or siblings close in age as a unit and it’s certainly more time effective. We feed them together. Dress them alike. Make them learn the same instrument or play the same sport. But the package mentality is not always what’s best for them. As you spend daily one-on-one time with your kids you’ll see their unique talents and contributions more and more clearly. Encourage and nurture their individual interests. Help your children recognize the differences in each other and celebrate them. Of course, your kids (and you) will always treasure the wonderful bond between them – but we can make room for some individuality to shine as well. What happens when you do? Everyone flourishes and your family can celebrate all the special things that make it unique – both individually and as a unit. Enjoy your precious people!

About The Author

Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic – A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.