Twin Stockholm Syndrome or Brotherly Love?

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Most parents of multiples experience dominance in one. It’s natural for a leader to emerge. I have reported on the dominant/submissive relationship of my boys a few times before but things have taken an interesting turn. It seems George’s boisterous authority has put him at the top of the food chain and the food web. Yes, Mom and Dad are no longer in charge… as if we ever were. Is this just brotherly love or are we dealing with a case of twin Stockholm syndrome?

Twin Stockholm Syndrome or Brotherly Love

Two Terrible Twos

The Labor Day long weekend was relaxed and family orientated. We all went out for lunch, Elsie and I painted the playroom. The boys enjoyed playing outside now the weather is starting to break below 100. We had plenty of squabbles over toys, and as usual, George was beating his brother up to keep him in his place. We do try to reprimand the bullying, but when we tell George off, Arthur gets extremely angry with us.

If George has punches or bites his brother, I will immediately intervene to encourage an apology and some remorse for what he has done. “You’ve hurt your brother and that is naughty. He has a boo-boo.” Behind me, however, Arthur will scream and shout. Not at George, but at me. He gets extremely protective and doesn’t like it at all when George is told off. Does Arthur have twin Stockholm syndrome for his brother?

Twin Stockholm Syndrome Sharing
Three kids, one Ipad… oh dear.

What is Twin Stockholm Syndrome?

Stockholm syndrome is a phenomenon associated with hostage and trauma victims. It gets its name from a bank robbery in Stockholm in 1973. The hostages became attached to their captor and began to sympathize and talk down the police on their behalf. 

The psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor

Definition of Stockholm Syndrome,

I should add… twin Stockholm syndrome is not an official diagnosis, it’s something my husband and I came up with because it explains the rather odd behavior of our children. Our boys adore each other, despite George having a funny way of showing it sometimes. But Arthur is willing to take whatever he throws at him… literally.

Twin Stockholm Syndrome Arthur
Despite Twin Stockholm Syndrome, Arthur was surprisingly chirpy at lunch.

Who’s the Boss?

At lunch, we all picked a chair at the restaurant and Arthur ended up at the head of the Table:

Head of the table Arthur! Are you the boss?” Daddy said with a silly grin.

No, not boss.” Arthur replied.

Oh. Who is the boss?” (Hoping he’ll say Dad instead of Mom, ha!)

George boss.” he said with a grumpy look on his face. 

We’ve been told. George is the boss of him, and of us. This does not bode well for general parenting authority around the house. What am I to do?

Twin Stockholm Syndrome George
“The thing is Dad… I’m the boss and nothing’s going to change that…”

5 Ways to Stop Twins Fighting

Although the dominant/submissive relationship is natural, their fighting can be unbearable at times. I know I’m not alone. Many twin moms of toddlers are dealing with the same. But if this twin Stockholm syndrome situation is to improve, we need to have fewer opportunities for George to throw his weight around. Here are some ways I prevent falling out:

  • Allow for shared and not shared activities. My boys can be very good at taking turns and sharing. However, no one wants to share all the time, especially when they’re tired. If they are sharing a toy, take the time to set out clear rules that help them know when to trade places.
  • Give them hands-on interactive activities. Some days sharing just isn’t going to happen. Keep them busy and focused on something they can do on their own. Painting, playdoh, a puzzle each. The peg activity I made for them works great because I have two full sets. 
    Twin Stockholm Syndrome Getting Along
  • If they won’t share, no one gets it. This is something I often threat and occasionally have to implement. If they repeatedly keep fighting over a particular toy it has to be put away. Yes, this does cause a double tantrum but a reminder of this rule can be powerful in diffusing a fight.
  • Get them outside. My boys rarely fight when they are outside exploring. It has been a long summer inside for us here in Arizona and I am so excited to get back out in the yard and the park. 
  • Talk to them. Despite the Twins speech delay, their understanding is extremely good. Set boundaries, rules for play and explain to both children at eye level. I find encouraging them to give each other a high five or a hug often gives them the boost they need to get along.
Twin Stockholm Syndrome Twins Fighting Terrible Twos
Can you guess who the Boss is?


Way to Diffuse the Twin Stockholm Syndrome?

You’ll be glad to know that things did improve. I have an updated post and more information on one twin bullying the other here.

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About the author

Katherine is an electrochemist, hiking enthusiast, and family lifestyle blogger. As a mom of three, including twins, she enjoys DIY, travel, and eating good food. British born, Katherine moved to the US in 2014, and now called Las Vegas home.

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