twin 12yr old DS's fighting all the time, at the end of my tether!

(35 Posts)
bubby64 Thu 27-Dec-12 22:27:15

Title says it all really, they have always fought, but it is now getting very physical, and they are actually injuring each other. I have tried stopping it, I have put them on various bans, including removing phones, Xbox and other items, but it makes no real difference. DH is also losing it with them , and has ended up yelling at them almost asmmuch as they yell at each other. Both their bedroom doors have been broken from being slammed, DH quite rightly refuses to fix them. It turns out that they have also been fighting at school, which we thought we had stopped by getting them put in different forms.
Any advice how to stop this anyone.

swanthingafteranother Wed 23-Jan-13 15:24:41

Blog if dt2 doesn't want to leave dt1, even if as you describe he has complained of being hurt, in effect he doesn't want to solve the problem even though you have presented him with a solution. Mine do that. It can only mean they enjoy fighting on some subconscious level, or are getting some feedback which is otherwise lacking.

If you were in an unpleasant situation and someone told you walk away, what reason would you have for staying? He wants to get on better with dt1 but doesn't know how to. He would rather fight with him than be alone. Ds1 will sometimes climb stairs to seek out ds2 and annoy him, when he could be doing ANYTHING else but for some reason doesn't.

I'm still trying to figure it out really confused

swanthingafteranother Wed 23-Jan-13 15:16:48

so true Bubbly the ganging up shock smile It is almost as if they weren't at odds in the first place when they decide YOU the parent are to blame for everything.

Sibling Rivalry has a long chapter on resolving fights, step by step. It explains when to intervene and how to intervene, sentence by sentence. It doesn't advocate leaving them to sort out their own fights at all when physical violence is involved, but mediating in a productive way. I think you have to read it to see the point. And to be honest I only just clicked what it was really saying, after thinking about some of the issues on this thread.

I suppose the main thing to remember is that children always "act out their feelings" so nothing will change longterm unless you find out why they feel so cross with each other, or if in fact they do; maybe they are cross about something else, not each other at all.

bubby64 Wed 23-Jan-13 14:46:50

One thing I have notice blog, and I don't know if you think the same, but, compared to most of their friends, my 2 seem quite immature in their behaviour, especially when at home together, where the behaviour is almost mirrored. They try to act more mature when out with said friends, but I know it's an act, not them actually growing up!

swanthingafteranother Wed 23-Jan-13 14:45:04

we have this all the time with our two dss who aren't twins. Ds2 (who is ASD) complains that Ds1 (12) said annoying things to him to wind him up. Or that ds1 has hurt him. Ds1 doesn't have to do much to annoy ds2 and he knows it, so it is his fault but what he actually says or does, boils down to la la or na na, or a little tiny brush against some part of ds2's body. But ds2 is acutely sensitive and feels v upset. We usually take ds2's side. But it had been getting worse and worse and I think we had been unwittingly deepening ds1's desire to get attention by annoying ds2, and his feelings of aggression/frustration towards him. He wanted the attention ds2 (ASD) was getting you see! grin

We used to respond by separating them, telling one or other of them off for over reacting or being "mean" to other. That didn't work. Now we have simple rules about personal space and only letting people into your bedroom "territory" if you are invited. But also we try and encourage things they can do together without quarrelling. We try and tell themSo ds1 reads to ds2 (David Walliams - showing off and talking without the rudeness), he plays tennis with him (physical wrestling without the aggro) or they chat about football whilst watching it together WITH AN ADULT PRESENT. Or last resort is we send them off on a walk together. We have only tried that recently, to our amazement ds1 actually looked after ds2 instead of insulting him or winding him up when an adult wasn't present, if the adult seemed to show confidence in his ability to look after his brother rather than telling him off for being mean to him...

bubby64 Wed 23-Jan-13 14:40:56

I have this, usually when playing Xbox together. one swears blind he has been hit, the other is just as adamant he has not hit him, it sounds like your 2 and mine were quads separated at birth!grin
I now say to the hitee, (Y) "if you have been hit for no reason, then you will be willing to come away from X and leave him on his own so you don't get hit again, I know it means you moving, but that way you will feel safe, and I will be reassured that you are not being injured." This is easier if they are on laptops, as he can move away and still continue with what he was enjoying.
If they are sharing an item, such as X box, I usually give one last warning, that I don't want to hear about anyone hitting/injuring the other, if so, playing together is obviously not possible, and I will turn off and take away Xbox for xxx period, that will protect you Y, from being hurt, and stop you X from getting blamed for hurting him.
That way, you are not taking sides, but, hopefully sorting the problem. Sounds easy, but, in real life it's hard, especially when they start to blame you , by screaming in your face, and all you are trying to do is mediate!sad sad . Mine tend to gang up on me at this point, but I say "I am the adult, and I am choosing to walk away" which I do.

BlogOnTheTyne Wed 23-Jan-13 13:47:51

So what do I do in this situation? Last night, I was upstairs and DTs downstairs sitting side by side at their PCs. I hear screaming from DT2. He suhes out of the room to me shouting, "DT1 HIT my leg for NO reason! Tell him off, Mummy!"

I tried not to rush into the situation but walked down and said to DT1, "DT2 says you hit him on the leg for no reason. Can you tell me what happened?" DT1 said he HADN'T hit DT2, hadn't touched him at all. I asked him why he thought DT2 would have screamed out and rushed to get me, looking uspet/ tearful, if nothing at all had happened? DT1 said he didn't know. I said had DT2 been provoking him and this had made him feel the need to hit out?

DT1 was adamant that he hadn't touched DT2 at all. By now, DT2 was very distressed and tearful and I was - once again - feeling confused about what to do.

Clearly, DT2 is certain that he's bene hit - unprovoked - by DT1. DT1 is certain he hasn't touched DT2. I'm not there to witness anything. If I do nothing, DT2 feels unprotected, upset, angry now with me and furious with his twin who, in his mind, has 'got away with it'. If I punish DT1 - and if he hasn't actually done anything at all - then DT1 feels I'm picking on him and blaming him for something he hasn't done.

I explain to DTs that it's very difficult as I wasn't there and can't be sure what happened - but I'm thinking, inside, that surely DT1 MUST have done something to DT2, otherwise why would DT2 rush out crying and come and get me?

I suggest that DT2 comes to be with me and leaves DT on his own, so nothing more can happen. He refuses. I'm clearly feeling angry with DT1 now and this feeling pervades the atmosphere for about an hour. I also feel guilty about this because I can't be at all sure if DT1 did anything at all and guilty about DT2 feeling nothing has been done to punish DT1 for the alleged offence!

On the good side, at least I didn't lose my temper this time. On the bad side, if they refuse to be in separate places when unsupervised, these 'incidents' will continue to happen and what do i then do?

Everyone was fine again with each other by bedtime - which is always the case, thankfully but it's very wearing and I still haven't got a creative solution to responding to unwitnessed, alleged 'aggression'????

bubby64 Wed 23-Jan-13 13:29:37

You are right swan, I find if I back off slightly, don't go in face to face in full on tirade, they calm down quicker. I have read and taken on board advice given on Mnet to other parents, and I now find myself saying more and more "you think about what you have done/ want to do/ want someone else to do, (whichever is appropriate) and then come and talk to me in a calm manner, and we will look at it together. until you can do that, I am not getting involved. if you think the the way you are dealing with this is correct, you then accept the consequences" Then I walk away. The first time I did this, I thought, "that's it, it wont work and they are going to continue hurting each other" but I was amazed when they did stop fighting, and 10 minutes later they both came down and asked me to mediate in the argument. I agreed, but only if they accepted my decision. I doesn't always work, but it has certainly put them on the back foot on occasions, and they seem not to fight quite so much, but I am still hoping that the school can also come up with some positive initiative s as well.

swanthingafteranother Wed 23-Jan-13 10:29:20

Sibling Rivalry by same people who wrote How To Talk (Faber) has a long running script about fighting...she eventually gets to it near end of book, but what she shows is that fighting is really the tip of iceberg in terms of the dynamics in a family...there is so much that precedes it and makes it inevitable.

I've really felt things turn around here this week. I don't know what it is, but I've realised that I just got so upset when they were fighting that I couldn't be a parent. Last night Ds1 (12)had a hissy fight about something I asked him to do, and instead of feeling offended that he was shouting at me, I just decided it was going to pass in 2 mins if I stayed calm. And it did. And he did what he was told because I stayed calm and assertive. Dd was rude to me about some cardboard boxes and instead of wilting or shouting back at her I said I didn't like her talking in that rude way but I nevertheless answered her question in a reasonable way, and reassured her that I would deal with the boxes in due course, when it suited me. Usually I would have just felt crushed that she was so rude all the time. They want me to be a strong parent. They feel safe when I let them know if their behaviour is good. And that allows them to cope with me telling them off at other points or laying down the law. But basically they just want me to be nice to them!! That is what they NEED in order to cope with all the boundary stuff.

bubby64 Tue 22-Jan-13 23:19:16

By the way blog and fish, if you want to join us other mums of multiples on here, you would be most welcome, these ladies have been lifesavers for me at times, they undestand the chaotic world of a mum of multiples!!

bubby64 Tue 22-Jan-13 23:12:44

Hi. We have continued to have a hard time of it too, and I have now contacted their school and spoken to the councillor and she has given me the details of a positive parenting course for DH and I to attend to see if it can give us any help in dealing with things. She has also said they can set up some sessions for both of them at school to do with anger management and family responsibilities. Whether they will gain anything from this, I dont know, but at least they will have to attend
I have recently resorted to turning off all electricals, and they both shout and yell at me, saying "why am I being punished when it is his fault!!"
I am replying "As I am not psychic, I cannot tell who "started" it, but, at the moment both of you are displaying bad behaviour, so that is why it is a joint punishment!"

swanthingafteranother Tue 22-Jan-13 19:08:38

I used to have terrible physical battles with dd (now 10) Blog ending up with us both pushing and shoving each other. Looking back it was not a battle of wills to set boundaries, but a battle between two helpless sets of emotions, desperately frustrated by the situation (her and me) and lashing out at each other. And utterly unproductive. And very upsetting to both of us sad

So now I try and keep the physical restraint to minimum, but step up the confident law enforcement bit. Following through and meaning it with consequences, which are fair and enforceable, not crazy (no telly for a year type) And go overboard on affection the rest of the time so she know she can be physical but not violent if she wants to get my attention. I think children are very physical in the way they relate to their parents, and they want to be close, and the flip side of fighting them is to try and demand as much physical "prescence" from them as possible even if this means wrestling with them or lashing out at them. So escalation is extremely likely unless you make a conscious decision to try and use other methods.

You say you can't switch off electricals because they go ballistic. That to me is a sign that they don't understand what the reason for your discipline is, or that they are not sure what boundaries there is over behaviour ie they know you are too frightened of them to enforce rules of that kind, although presumably they do various other things you ask.

swanthingafteranother Tue 22-Jan-13 18:32:14

omg! It's like that in our house these last few days. Must be the snow??? Also have a HF aspie twin to contend with grin to spice life up!

In our house it is dd 10 (NT) fighting with older brother, calling him names, belittling him etc so that he was in tears, screeching herself, lashing out. Like Maryz I tried the confident approach. I said to dd that unkindness was not allowed, and put her out of the room with her supper plate. Then I spoke kindly to ds1 (12/13) who was in tears. He is usually the aggressor in these situations, and I had this funny feeling if I could just get him to feel supported, and dd who is usually the victim, to feel she had power to stop events unfolding things might improve. Within an hour they were laughing and joking together. Sometimes I think they just want to be "understood", even while you are laying down the law. And I did lay down law, no "unkindness" allowed.

With the boys fighting over Xmas hols, I tried to turn off all electricals (for an hour) and it worked brilliantly. They really stopped fighting and realised I meant it. And I used the words (From HOW TO TALK SO KIDS WILL LISTEN) I believe you can come to an arrangement.

BlogOnTheTyne Mon 21-Jan-13 14:32:01

Don't mean to highjack your thread bubby64 but I'm just needing some more input from people about how to handle DTs. There was yet another incident at the weekend, where they ended up fighting. I wans't in the room but heard DT2 (the one with HFA) screaming and I rushed downstairs.

BOTH accused the other of starting the fight by an unprovoked hit. DS2 then told me that DT1 had said "You have no friends!" At this point I saw red. I'd had a v long conversation with DT1, privately, the day before about DT2s current struggles with friends. DT2's 'best friend' that he's had since age 5 has gravitated towards someone else and DT2 is effectively alone during classtime and feels sad and angry.

Anyway, like I said, I saw red and told DT1 to go to his room. DT2 was the one who'd been screaming for me to come and help and who had visible scratch marks on his torso. I therefore blamed DT1 for the fight, although I didn't see what happened.

DT1 became incredibly rude and sarcastic to me and refused to leave the room. I suggested that DT2 leave the room instead and come and be with me but he didn't want to. I then, I'm ashamed to say, tried to force DT1 to go to his room. Both of us were furious and DT1 was being incredibly provocative. I failed completely to maintain my sense of self control and keep calm and was shouting and pushing him.

DT2 then jumped on my back and tried to hold my arms. This infuriated me even more and I tried to push him off. Both DTs are almost stronger than I am now. This always happens, that, when I go to the aid of one of them, the other then sides with his brother against me!

I feel utterly stupid and deeply ashamed to have resorted to physical tussles with my sons. My protective instinct towards DT2 with SN made me feel fury towards his twin but, in retrospect, I expect that BOTH of them had been as bad as the other and DT1 wasn't to blame.

I am now at a loss to know how to manage defiance, rudeness and physical aggression in my sons and feel I'm a terrible example, myself, at modelling keeping cool and calm.

Consequently, my sons have seen me lose control. They know I can no longer force them to go to their rooms. Both are completely refusing to leave the room if there's a fight starting between them - which was my advice to them, if I'm not able to be in the room with them. If I've ever tried to switch off their PCs as a negative consequence to their behaviour, they go ballistic and switch them back on. I don't know what other consequence to try. They don't get pocket money.

At the moment, the only thing I can think of doing is never letting them be alone together in a room, without me there but this is impossible to ensure all the time, as I do need to get on with jobs etc in other rooms. I shouldn't have to do this, anyway, when they're almost 12 now.

I can't even know which one has started a row, if I'm not there, unless of course I use CCTV in all rooms - which isn't going to happen.

DT2 is more vulnerable in some ways because of his Asperger's but he can also be incredibly provocative to DT1, who puts up with things till he flips. DT2 is much heavier and stronger. So he can really do damage to DT1 but DT1 can be really vicious in a fight.

They seem to hate each other at the moment, between really, really loving each other too. Even yesterday, playing out in the snow, when a fight began, DT2 'played dead' and DT1 came rushing in, in tears, thinking he'd really hurt his brother and was completely traumatised by this possibility. Turned out that DT2 was faking it but even so, it showed that there's a fine line between their fury at each other and their love.

Anyone with any advice? I feel a complete failure as a parent.

bubby64 Thu 03-Jan-13 10:13:36

Hi fish, its a nightmare, isn't it? My 2 sound very much like your 2 except the other way around!! My DH is a HF Aspie, too, and I sometimes do wonder a bit about DS1 in that respect, His social skills aren't as advanced as DS2, but he is a social person, liking to be around groups, not actively avoiding them as my DH does, also, DS1 does get some fixations on subjects just like DH, but again, not to such an obvious extent.
The ban lasted until last night, mostly due to the fact I am working today, and DH is looking after them, and, again, because of his AS his toleration levels with them are very low at the moment, and he cannot cope with them pestering him all day for the use of the equipment. When I gave back things on the strict understanding that the next fight that happens, I will remove them again.

FishNeedsBicycle Tue 01-Jan-13 19:58:15

Bubby64, you are not alone. You could be talking about my sons - DTs aged 11 who have started to resort to physical fights, having rarely fought physically - at least nothing like what they're doing now. I think it's hormonal - but it's really stressful to endure and know what to do to manage it.

DT1 has been appalling today. He teases DT2 who has HF Asperger's, is currently overweight and has started to get teenage spots. On the other hand, DT2 is infuriating to DT1 and provokes him in different ways until finally DT1 flips. DT2 boasts he's cleverer (does better academically because of his special interests and fantastic memory) but DT1 is far better socially and DT2 feels he 'takes away' his friends.

At times, both sometimes attack me too if I try to make them stop fighting or arguing with each other. I can't get them to go to their rooms anymore without trying to 'make' them and I realise that this isn't a very good idea now they're both big enough to pick me up! If I take away electronic gadgets, they get worse and worse and seem completely addicted to screens.

If I don't intervene, the fighting turns dangerous and they may draw blood or seriously injure the other - though the latter hasn't happened yet. DT2 has the body weight behind him to do real damage but DT1 can be extremely vicious too. DT2 doesn't always know when to stop, as his Asperger's doesn't make it easy for him to realise limits on physicality and nor does he react to pain in a normal way himself - so the fighting can get out of hand more than it might with neurotypical children. They've also started to be more destructive to things in the home, which is another reason why I daren't leave them to it when they fight, as precious things get broken.

The only thing mine will do at present is screen related activities. If I stop them, they get extremely bored and then become difficult and fight more. If I allow them a long time on screens, they stay calmer but over time, get bored anyway and begin to fight. If I take them off screens, they fight.

When I've forced them to go out with me on a trip/ a country walk etc, one or both doesn't want to go and that DT or both will then make the entire trip out completely awful. Their powers of endurance are incredible, when it comes to provoking me and they can keep it up for 3 solid hours, as I try to ignore, change the subject , distract, redirect etc. If I lose my temper, they've won but sometimes it's really hard NOT to lose it myself.

I do think that the dynamic between twins is different in some ways to close siblings. I'm just hoping that it'll get better over the years as they also still have times of real bonding and can get on very well with each other. They've been in separate classes at school since age 5 and this works best. Their 3 week long Xmas holiday has been a bit of a nightmare for me, really, despite some very good moments, as they've either fought each other, provoked or been rude to me or sat in front of screens all day. I've taken them out but, as above, these trips disintegrate into an unendurable marathon of rudeness and provocation from them towards me.

So you really are not the only one with difficult DTs and yours sound very similar to mine in so many ways.

Maryz Tue 01-Jan-13 18:01:47

Good luck.

If you think you can't stand three days of them without the stuff, you can always sit down with them tomorrow and have a "family meeting" where you ask them for some input into behaviour and consequences.

Depending on how it goes, you could offer the stuff back earlier in return for something you really want them to do, but know that they know you will do it again if pushed.

Good luck smile.

bubby64 Tue 01-Jan-13 16:57:28

Well, an update. They started fighting last night, and I warned them twice then removed laptop, Xbox cables, phones and the thing that upset DS1 the most, the power supply to the hornby train set. This caused a massive outcry from both of them, but DS1 was the worst. shouting, throwing things then finally, after about an hour, once they realised I meant business, crying then calm. I have locked the things away, and hidden the key, and I am not giving things back for 3 days ( this was the increasing point we got to after going up by 1/2 day each time they carried on).
They know know I will keep to the threat, and will increase the length of time the things are confiscated with each episode of bad behaviour. Not a calm New Years Eve, but I'm determined to stick to my guns. Wish me luck!!

alistron1 Sat 29-Dec-12 21:56:16

My DD's (not twins but 11 months apart) used to fight ALL THE TIME. I remember one morning when they were 12/13 them karate kicking each other over a pair of tights! At 15/16 they actually get on really well. In fact today at dinner DD2 ( who could start a fight in an empty room) said ' we get on much better than other families' <<smug>>

It's horrible though, and wearing and embarrassing. I bet they'll grow out of it.

MaryChristmaZEverybody Sat 29-Dec-12 21:42:05

That's good smile.

As long as you can talk to them, you will manage to cope.

Funnily enough, the day I made the decision to deal with the fighting rather than just to react to it, the kids started behaving better. I don't know whether it was a coincidence or the fact that I felt more confident about it all.

bubby64 Sat 29-Dec-12 21:38:58

Thanks for all the advice. Amazingly, probably because DS1 is unwell ATM with a chest infection, and DS2 is actually being sympathetic, its been relativly quiet for the past few days, no major arguments or fights, and they have been as thick as thieves playing different games.
But I have decided to punish both equally on the very next fight with an total electronics ban, and go from there.
I have had a 1 to 1 talk with DS2 today about his general behaviour at home and school, and his behaviour to DS1 in particular, and he has said he is going to change, I had taken some video footage on my phone of them last time they were in full on fight mode, and got him to watch it with me, I think it shocked him a bit, and he also said he didnt remember saying some of the things he did, and was a bit upset to hear himself on the video.
Next thing is to do the same for DS1, but I will wait until he feels a bit better in himself.

specialsubject Sat 29-Dec-12 14:43:54

when even their own parents describe them as 'nasty' there is an issue. Separation at school was a good start, and all siblings argue but this is ridiculous.

The less smart one sounds more of an issue with his unpleasant insults, although it sounds like he needn't be thick if he was less lazy. The smarter one needs to do as he's bloody told. As they are reassuringly as bad as each other, you can punish both. All privileges go for a month; that is internet, phones, cash etc. If there has been no trouble for a month things start coming back. If trouble, the ban continues as long as necessary.

good luck.

MaryChristmaZEverybody Sat 29-Dec-12 00:12:42

Don't worry about him sitting there, don't try to move him, just don't turn anything on.

He will eventually give up if he knows you won't change your mind - nothing back on until 15 minutes after he is in his room with the door closed (time for a cuppa for you).

It seems unfair on ds2, but it will work better if you refuse to react, just do it. And I'm sure they are both responsible to a certain extent for the bickering.

bubby64 Fri 28-Dec-12 23:45:35

We were not really a "shouty" house, although lately both of our patience has been strained to the point of occasionally yelling back at them!blush , Mary, that's good advice about switching off everything, and yes, according to them it's always the other one who starts things!
Biggest problem in sending them to their rooms is DS2 will usually go, (surprisingly) but DS1 will sit himself down in living room and muleshly refuse to go up, and I cannot move him, so I just ignore, ignore, ignore until he does what is requested.
As for the fighting at school, DS2 is already been warned he will be put on a "social behaviour report" if he doesn't change his ways in January, so this might help.
TBH, I miss the 2 boys who were at primary school, they always bickered and had the occasional minor fight, but it was never this aggressive, this has only really kicked off since commencing at a much larger High School than our little village primary, and we certainly never had the general bad behaviour we now get from DS2sad I really thought having them put in separate forms would help them develop as individuals, and they were very keen for this to happen too. I also thought that not doing any lessons with each other would give them something to talk about, and it would help that they were not in each others pockets all day, every day!

MaryChristmaZEverybody Fri 28-Dec-12 18:51:36

Have you tried instant reaction, punishing both equally, every time?

I instituted a no violence, no touching rule when ds1 was about this age. They had allocated seats in the sitting room, so couldn't touch each other.

Any time there was a row, I turned off everything electrical. Simply switched it all off, including the modem, and sent them all to their rooms. And I didn't put anything on again until 15 minutes (or 30 if I was very pissed off) after the last one of them had stayed in their room.

At first I got a lot of complaints from the "innocent party" (usually all of them). It took them about a week to discover that I would do the same thing every time.

I stopped refereeing, trying to find out what happened, reasoning, taking sides, punishing fairly. I just divided them up.

For a week it was awful. Then they suddenly realised I meant it and more or less stopped.

I also took away for a week any xbox game they fought over. That stopped that too.

I'm glad your house is so peaceful Mariah. Obviously you are a wonderful parent, and should really write a book to tell us all how to do it properly smile.

MariahScarey Fri 28-Dec-12 15:53:53

Your genes then.

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