The Alpha Twin

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Categories Behavior, Toddlers

I don’t know if it’s because she’s a girl, or because she’s “baby A”, or because this is just who she is, but Tiny is definitely the alpha twin in our house. She commands her brother, Buba, to do things (Buba, come!), to get things (Go get monkey!), and to give up things (I need to have baby now!). And most of the time, her requests are granted.

There’s a part of me that likes how assertive and strong-willed Tiny is, as I was quite mousy as a child. However, at the same time, I don’t like to see Buba getting pushed around all the time. My husband and I have tried to get Tiny to be less demanding, and at the same time, get Buba to be more assertive, but it’s not working all that well. For example, if Tiny takes a toy that Buba is playing with, we’ll make her give it back. But often, Buba won’t take it back, and if he does, he’ll only play with it a few more seconds before dropping it and moving on to something else.

We’ve also tried coaching Buba through some of these situations. Like the times when Tiny will grab him by the arm and demand that he follow her somewhere. We’ll say to him, “Tell her no. Tell her you want to keep playing with [whatever he happens to be playing with].” But 9 times out of 10, he just abandons his own activity and goes wherever she takes him.

Sometimes, I wish they were a bit older so I could ask Buba how he really feels about all this. I’ve noticed within the last month or so, that he really seems to want more time to himself. But at the same time, he hates to see Tiny upset. And I wonder if, at 2 years old, he’s already decided that he’d rather comply with her requests than see her unhappy.

Leave it alone? Keep trying to intervene? What would you/do you do when this happens in your house?

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16 thoughts on “The Alpha Twin”

  1. My daughter is the alpha over my son too! She takes his toys and he let’s her. I always feel so bad for him. I have kinda come to the realization, however, that I think it bothers me more then bothers him. I know there will be a time when they will be fighting and I will want these days of one giving in back.

  2. Mine are both alpha in their classroom, and tend to herd their daycare classmates. At home, though, Melody tends to try to boss Jessica around. Their dynamic is not dissimilar to that of me and my husband. While he’s usually an extremely dominant personality, at home, he lets me get my way unless it’s something that really matters to him. Jess, too, can stand up for herself when she cares to, but she just doesn’t care most of the time. I used to worry more about her, but now I’m more concerned about Melody’s bossiness.

    I’ve stopped nagging Jess to stand up for herself so much, having seen her go toe-to-toe with Mel and win. She’s a master compromiser, while Melody tends to give ultimatums. Now my focus is on teaching Melody (both overtly and through example) how to pick her battles and leave Jess alone unless it’s important to her.

    I don’t know if it’s related, but Jessica experiences the world physically, while Melody experiences it verbally. Also, Jessica’s a out-going introvert, while Melody is an intense extrovert.

    Nurture by Nature is a book on my reading list. It looks like it may relate to the question at hand.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Rainbow Magic =-.

  3. This is exactly our situation! Exactly – they can’t talk yet as they’re just 9 months but already K steals C’s toys and crawls away.

    This is something that so worries me about the future – I’m a life coach so will obviously instill good skills in both of them but their innate personalities are so different.

    .-= Leigh from 123 blog´s last blog ..Easter baskets & Baby dedications =-.

  4. Oh my gosh, I think I could have written this post. My 21 mo. identical girls are the same way. I have not done any scientific study, but I think it’s partially a developmental stage and also a personality thing. Claire [twin A] is very dominant over Lucy [B]. It drives my husband and I crazy seeing Claire ALWAYS get her way with Lucy because Lucy doesn’t like to see Claire upset and will ALWAY give back whatever toy she is wanting. It makes me very sad for Lucy. I also don’t want to see this turning into a people pleasing situation. However, at not even two, how can you even teach them this?

    We’ve tried intervening and if the intervention goes on too long it makes matters worse. In the end, it appears that Lucy just wants to see Claire happy and keep the peace and that makes Lucy happy. Oftentimes, it just gets worse if we step in. However, doing some time outs for Claire’s possessive attitude has helped and she has started to “get it” in some situations, but it really depends on the day [just like everything else with kids this age]. I really think it may get better AND worse as they start to verbalize more. But, I’d love to hear what other experienced multiples mamas have to say about this!

  5. Sigh. I could have written this post, too. My Rowan is a total bully over her brother, who pretty much just lets her have her way. Until just recently, he didn’t so much as say a peep when she took a toy, tackled him, pushed him around, you name it. Lately he has started to show some frustration, but he looks to me to intervene. I have NEVER intervened, unless she’s behaving badly, like hitting, biting, or being aggressively mean (which she rarely does because it never has to come to that.) So now he’s whining and I feel bad, but on the other hand, he needs to learn to stand up to her. I try to coach him, but he’s only 19-months old and doesn’t quite understand.

    Anyway, I don’t know what to do either. I guess I’m just going to let it run its course and intervene if I feel I need to, but on the other hand, I’m not going to get involved in every toy pissing match. No way.

    I do think this is entirely a personality thing. She is just like me and he is just like my husband…laid back and a people pleaser. But unlike my husband, Evan hasn’t quite learned how to stand up to Rowan when it’s something that’s very important to him (a trait I LOVE in my hubby. Sexy.)

  6. It’s interesting to read the comments from other MoMs…it seems like this is a common thread across a variety of ages.

    We certainly have this situation with our 15-month old fraternal twin girls. To date, I have scolded Baby A, saying something like, “We do not take toys from Sissy.” I give the disputed toy back to Baby B, and then I try to engage her in playing with it again, as – like you said with Buba – she will often move quickly on to another toy. I don’t think our girls are old enough for me to try to impress anything upon Baby B about “standing up for herself”.

    Building a little bit on what Sadia said, it’s interesting that Baby A seems (at this early age…and knowing this could change tomorrow!) to be a “doer”, while Baby B seems to be more of a “thinker”. It will be really interesting to watch how things begin to play out as our girls age.
    .-= MandyE´s last blog ..No Self-Esteem Issues Here! =-.

  7. Reading through the comments and Reanbean’s original post, it looks like in our limited sample size, in B/G twins, the girl tends to be dominant. My bossy girl is Twin B, but it looks like Twin A’s the one in charge amongst the other G/G twins.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Rainbow Magic =-.

  8. I was nearly at my wit’s end over this same issue today…how timely of you to post this! 2.5 y/o girl twin had 3 time outs today for getting quite physical in the bossing around of her twin brother (pulling on his clothes, pushing, hitting…etc), who, I might add, outweighs her by 12 pounds. And he really doesn’t fight back! I was thinking more time apart might help this immediate problem…but overall, I suppose I can’t change their personalities…

  9. Good news for y’all: my twins were JUST like this as well in the 1-2 year range. We tried many similar tactics. They’re now 4 and a half, and starting by the time he was 3, he’s been much better about standing up for himself. He’s still FAR more laid back than his brother, and FAR less competitive (i.e., he doesn’t freak out at all if he loses a game or anything). He’s basically just an easy-going kid. He’s not passive or a follower, in fact, he can be fiercely independent, but he’s still willing to go with the flow most of the time, trying things that others suggest.

    Those exact traits I worried about at 18 months are a real strength for him at 4 and a half!
    .-= WhatACard´s last blog ..Another twin moment =-.

  10. I think it’s just a twin thing. Especially with b/g twins. Mine are 2.5 and the girl has been bossing her brother around and taking his toys since she first learned to use her hands. I think it has to do with how girls develop faster.

    Just recently he has discovered the joys of taking sissy’s toys. He grabs them and then runs behind an adult with a gleeful look on his face. It disturbs me a little that she took toys because she wanted to play with them, but he takes them just to annoy her.

  11. My fraternal girls are 21 mos old. Baby B is our alpha and has been since about 3-4 months old, laying next to each other she would hoard all the toys. I was watching a video of them at that age and laughing because it was so evident even then. Now her new favorite thing is that she takes any toy her sister has and doesn’t even use it, she’ll just run over to the gate and throw it into the next room. Poor Danielle cries but never stands up to Samantha. We are trying to teach her to be a bit more assertive. It isn’t going so well.

  12. I let A reign herd on B — until B got pissed off and bit the crap out of her sister! Seriously, though, B has learned what to tolerate and takes care of what she can’t. Buba’s time will come – have a first aid kit available. 😉

  13. We have g/g fraternal twins who are 3.5 now. For the first year Baby A was clearly the alpha. SO much so that we always talked about how B (Maddie) would one day get her revenge. But as Baby B’s mobility improved around 1 year, it became CLEAR that the only reason Baby A was the alpha was because Baby B couldn’t move around very well. Since about 12-13 months Baby B has ruled the roost. She is DEFINITELY the more bossy of the two. She NEVER gives in. She steals toys. She’ll push and scream. Baby A will almost always give in immediately. In fact, it’s become so bad as of late that we find ourselves intervening by encouraging her NOT to give in to her sister. That’s it’s okay if she keeps the toy she was playing with – she doesn’t HAVE to give it up right away just b/c B says so.

    Oh – and oddly enough – Baby B is the more dominant of the two but she is also more easy going and easier to handle in public than Baby A. Baby A has NO patience and will have frequent public meltdowns whereas Baby B will shop with me for hours or sit peacefully throughout an entire meal in a restaurant.
    .-= Marnie´s last blog ..the beauty that surrounds me… =-.

  14. I have two alpha twins, hahaha! Seriously, even their birth order is a mistery – i tried vaginal and Beatrice was coming down first (feet first), but when it did not work and we had to have a c-section, Isabel was taken out first, so she was born first but she “should” have been born second.

    There was a very short spell at around 8-9 months when Isabel stole everything from Beatrice’s hands. Now they are even, none gives up and we have a lot of screaming, hahaha!

  15. Our 1 year old fraternal b/b twins have this too. Twin A is bigger physically and takes Twin B’s stuff all the time. Twin A is also more clingy. Twin B is quite likely to go play on his own or explore something new than to be bothered when the toy is taken away by Twin A. However, just recently, I have seen a couple of examples of Twin B taking the toy back. We’ll see if we’re in for a power change…

  16. OMG I too could have written this post! My fraternal twin boys are 3 and man do I feel your pain on this one. When they turned 3 I actually put them in two separate schools (long story, won’t bore you with the details) but I was amazed that in only a week Baby B was a whole different kid.

    I had planned to separate them anyway but this forced me to and it was the best thing that ever happened to us! I seriously wish I would have done it sooner! Baby A is the outgoing fun one and Baby B is kind of the more dominant one in a lot of ways.

    They are so different from each other and I think they switch off with the dominant thing. Although this wasn’t the case until about 4 months ago. Baby A was alwyas the dominant one but after having them in two different classes Baby B has learned to be a little more assertive and communicate so much better.

    I never thought I would separate them until they got older but I ould recommend it to anyone. Seriously. Best thing we ever did for both of them. Plus I now get some one on one time with each of them every week. :)
    .-= Lee Anne´s last blog ..More decisions… =-.

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