Having twins doesn’t always feel like simply parenting times two. It can often feel like trying to manage a herd of children, especially when it comes to behavior.
When one twin is upset, the other will often join in until the cries or screams seem like they are coming from an entire schoolyard of kids. Everything escalates.
What is twin escalation syndrome? Twin escalation syndrome is when one twin’s behavior, such as crying or throwing a tantrum, causes the other twin to do the same. However, it also causes a loop that makes each twin’s emotions escalate until the tantrum or crying over something small is suddenly out of control.
While it can be overwhelming to handle twin escalation syndrome when you are parenting, it’s not impossible.
Knowing the reasons behind this syndrome and how to help calm the storm can make the madness more manageable.
Twin Escalation Syndrome
Twin escalation syndrome is a condition that twin parents may see but not understand. That can make it difficult to help your twins, and it can be very frustrating to try to parent your kids through these episodes.
Twin Escalation Syndrome Explained
Twin escalation syndrome can start in infant twins and continue from there. It happens when one twin is upset and this sets off the other twin.
Now you have two babies crying or screaming, and they will try to scream over each other. This can go back and forth and increase in intensity.
How Twin Escalation Syndrome Differs From Tantrums
Toddler tantrums are common, and every parent expects them once their kids hit a certain age.
However, twin escalation syndrome is different. When one twin starts crying or screaming, it can cause the other twin to scream louder or cry more.
While regular tantrums can be triggered by small or large things, twin escalation syndrome is caused by the feedback between twins that keeps the fit going.
The reason twins respond with escalating behavior is not fully known, but there are theories.
It may be that twins are so in tune that they feed off of each other’s emotions. It could also be a bit of competition with one twin attempting to scream louder than the other to gain attention.
Twin Escalation Syndrome Triggers
Unlike regular crying spurts or tantrums, twin escalation syndrome tends to be triggered by twin behavior.
For example, if baby A starts crying because he has become upset by something, that’s the only trigger baby B needs to start crying harder.
Baby A then intensifies his cries to be heard or because baby B’s cries are making him more upset. This cycle continues.
While the first twin may be triggered by a wet diaper, gas pain, or hunger, the second twin is simply triggered by the first.
How Long Twin Escalation Syndrome Lasts
There is not a definitive answer to how long twin escalation syndrome lasts. It can continue into adulthood since some twins are competitive and will continually try to outdo each other.
However, the screaming and tantrum parts will hopefully become more manageable as your twins learn to communicate in other ways.
While they may still try to talk over each other and cry the loudest, having words to discuss what is happening may help parents navigate the worst of twin escalation syndrome as kids age.
How To Deal With Twin Escalation Syndrome – 4 Tips
Though it can be hard to manage twin escalation syndrome, it is possible. There are steps you can take to help keep the situation from getting completely out of control.
Watching two children try to out scream each other when you are already exhausted is a special kind of torture.
That’s why it’s so hard not to panic when the noise gets overwhelming. However, if you can stay calm, you can de-escalate the situation faster.
Twins feed off each other’s emotions, and they will also feed off of yours. If you add to the chorus of screaming or crying voices, they aren’t going to calm down. Take as many deep breaths as you need, but try to remain calm.
It’s a good idea to separate your twins when things begin to escalate. This keeps them from feeding off the negative energy each one is supplying.
You can simply have a safe, calm place for each of them to sit while you help them manage their emotions separately.
Put a calm-down box full of sensory-friendly activities in the places each one rests when overwhelmed.
Have Individual Time
Having twins means feeling like you never get a break, especially in those early years. That’s why it’s hard to put even more tasks on your to-do list.
However, one sure way to help your twins deal with big feelings and prevent some blow-ups is to carve out individual time with each of them.
This doesn’t have to be elaborate. Go on a walk with one twin. Play a game with the other twin.
Just make time as often as possible to truly let them feel appreciated on their own. This can lessen the tension that makes twin escalation syndrome worse.
Obviously, you should never walk away or ignore children who are physically harming each other. However, if your best efforts offer no results and the kids are safe, you can ignore the behavior and let it de-escalate naturally.
Twins will escalate conflict for attention, and sometimes simply not receiving that attention is enough to make them stop.
Why Do My Twins Fight So Much?
You may feel like your twins fight more than other kids. While every set of twins is different, there are plenty of reasons that twins might fight more than other siblings.
Twins spend more time together than other siblings since they start their lives together in the womb.
They are constantly compared to each other by onlookers, and they don’t get the individual attention singletons get. All of this can make the relationship tense.
While twins have a unique bond and the ability to build a connection that other people can never truly understand, they also have their identities as individuals yoked together with their identities as twins.
This alone can lead them to fight with each other for more autonomy, space, or attention.
Do Twins Cry More Than Single Babies?
Though twin parents may find it hard to believe, there’s no proof to suggest that twins cry any more than singletons.
The crying can be more intense or feel never-ending because there are two babies, but the amount of crying is said to be the same.
Each baby is different, and some will cry more than others because they are more sensitive. That is true with twins as well.
If you feel like your twins’ emotions are more intense than singletons, you aren’t wrong. Twin escalation syndrome is real and can make parenting twins a challenge. Fortunately, there are ways to manage the chaos.
Kristy is the mother of four, including identical twins. With a background in education and research, she is constantly learning more about parenting and raising multiples. When she has spare time, she enjoys hiking into the woods with a great book to take a break.