Are you a victim of Twin Escalation Syndrome? 

Twin Escalation Syndrome (TES) is the tendency for twins, triples, or more to feed upon each others behaviors, and to escalate the behaviors in reaction to each other. TES.  If you are a parent of multiples, you’ve got it.  Every day.

If one multiple gets scolded for bad behavior, the other(s) must immediately perform the same action that resulted in the scolding – and often build on the behavior – bigger, bolder, “badder”.   If one screams, the others scream louder. 

In fact, Twin Escalation Syndrome often results in behavior that is so over the top, we’re not just talking “double trouble”.  You’ve got the bad behavior of one, added to the bad behavior of the other, and then intensified — exponentially. Sometimes it seems that every bad behavior of one is picked up and mimicked by the other(s). 

“Getting into Mischief” is a whole lot easier to do when you’re a twin.

"Honey... Have you seen my shaving cream?"

"Honey... Have you seen my shaving cream?"

And let’s face it – the old, “If your brother jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?” quip just doesn’t cut it.  So what do you do?

1. Be calm.

When you can see a TES situation forming, try not to get swept up in the escalation.  Shouting only heightens the sense of chaos.  Take a deep breath and proceed with the following defense tactics.

2. Focus your attention.

Often TES occurs because of competition between siblings.  Deal with one child at a time, but tell the others that their turn is next. Take steps to minimize the competition between your multiples.  Try to get one on one time with each multiple on a daily basis, and at least one extended one on one event with each per week.

3. Distraction

Attempt to distract one or both before the situation gets out of hand. Suggest a new activity – and participate with your multiples in that activity – since their escalating behavior is probably an attempt to get your attention anyway.

4. Time out!

Yes, the old tried and true “time out “ method.  But with multiples, the key is to designate time out locations that are in separate rooms.  Time out locations also should not be in a place where you don’t want to associate bad feelings (for example, a crib/bed is probably not a good time out location).  Time outs generally should not exceed 1 minute per year/age beginning at age three.  Before age three, time outs might entail a few minutes sitting quietly with mommy reading a book instead of partaking in the escalating behavior you are trying to avoid.

I love hearing all the funny “Twin Escalation Syndrome” examples from other parents of multiples. Please share yours!

Copyright 2009 – / Kathryn Whiteley