Twin Sibling Rivalry…just when I thought we were in the clear

“Daddy, I think Halle’s jealous of me.”

With that small but perceptive comment from Zanna, my husband and I realized that that explained alot about Halle’s recent acting out.

We did some thinking, some praying and some discussion and managed to put a few things into perspective:

Zanna had been moving much faster thru the computer lessons the twins’ school had assigned, while Halle had been moving at a much slower pace.  And Halle had become increasingly frustrated with her slow rate of progress.

Zanna had been practically wallowing in helping me out, even going so far as to brag about how helpful to me she was being, while Halle sulked on the couch.

Last week, I discovered Zanna just sitting placidly while shrieking her head off, as Halle pinched her very hard, then when I entered the room, she wailed that Halle should have a time-out.

And lately, whenever Halle got into trouble for making messes, Zanna would self-righteously stand by and announce that she had “told” Halle repeatedly not to be naughty (which, in fact, she hadn’t – she’d actually join in the fun until I came in, then act all innocent), and then proclaim that Halle should have a time out.

And so Halle had been receiving time out after time out, and while I did admonish Zanna to not brag so much, and to not be so much of a “Little Miss Know-it-all”, Halle was bearing the brunt of the discipline, while Zanna – who’d apparently learned how to work the system – would get off scot-free in comparison.

No, we did not intentionally set out to play favorites, despite what other well-meaning but unaware-of-what-goes-on-in-our-home-on-a-24/7-basis relatives thought.

BUT, our previous discipline plan had focused only on certain overt misbehaviour, such as hitting, messing, name-calling, etc, but not covering such unattractive character traits such as bragging, false-pridefulness, and framing one’s sister thru temptation and passivity, and self-righteousness at the expense of making someone else feel bad.

So…what to do?

Well, the first thing we decided to do was to nip the “sit passively while sister hurts me and be the ‘innocent’ victim and crow when sister gets punished” thing that Zanna had going on for the longest time.  Enough was enough of that!

And we started both the girls on a “Self-Preservation” course.

We taught them the Four Things they must do when someone tries to touch them in a way that makes them uncomfortable:

1)  Loudly say “Stop that!”

2) Remove the offending hand from themselves.

3) Shout “Help!” VERY loudly.

4) Run away!

We ran both of the girls thru these drills, and they were quite pleased with themselves when we praised and high-fived them both for protecting themselves.

We figured that A) This would cut down on Zanna sitting placidly while Halle hurts her, B) Halle would no longer get time-outs for hurting her sister, and C) We would give time-outs to Zanna if she failed to make an effort to protect herself, thereby motivating her to cease sacrificing herself in an effort to set Halle up for punishment, and D) Halle’s teacher Mrs. G was thrilled at what we were doing, as she worried over the increased number of ‘child luring’ incidents appearing on the news lately.


It’s been two weeks since we started our Self Preservation role-[laying with the girls.  We’ve also tried to have more one-on-one time with them, and also try to give them more hugs and snuggles throughout the day.

We’ve already noticed some results:

Halle and Zanna, at most only have one or two fights per day, and those end pretty quickly with just a reminder from me that while Halle shouldn’t hit, Zanna is also responsible to protect herself.

Zanna is no longer bragging of her many virtues, nor is she ‘telling’ Halle how to behave.

Both the girls are playing more cooperatively – although this doesn’t extend to cooperatively putting away their toys 🙂

And both the girls seem to be getting along with each other without much of the tension and rivalry that was present two weeks ago.

Now, if only I can get them to pick up their toys…

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