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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.

neolara Thu 27-Dec-12 22:29:52

Do you know what they are fighting about? Not the triggers that set them off, but the real stuff that's going on under the surface?

bubby64 Thu 27-Dec-12 23:52:02

I think that DS2 is jealous of DS1, as he is and always has been more academic, but DS2 has always been the one who has always had more friends as he is a social butterfly, and DS1 gets jealous of that.
DS1 had a lot of health problems as a young child, which meant he needed a bit more attention because of this, but we always tried to treat them as much as we could the same.
Now, because of these same continuing issues, DS1 is overweight, and DS2 uses this as a nasty insult every opportunity he gets, and also says he is embarrassed that he has a brother "who is fat!".
TBH, DS2 is the nastier of the 2, and does instigate a lot of the fights, he is also making himself known to their new High School at the moment by his general behaviour, not just to DS1, but other kids as well. Whether he is ddoing it to gain attention because his brother has gained attention by being placed on the gifted and talented register for math and science, I don't know, he himself is not lacking on the academic department, if he would only apply himself a bit more.

brighterfuture Fri 28-Dec-12 08:25:24

It must be very difficult to live with twins who don't get on.

My two ds used to fight in a nasty and physical way . There has always been a lot of sibling rivalry between them.

A couple of years back I'd had enough and when they started a fight instead of trying to break it up I just carried on reading my paper in the same room shock It got pretty nasty with one brother bashing the others head on the tiled floor..... I still refused to engage.

When the fight was over they were both very shaken as they had gone further than they were used to because of my not breaking it up. I suggested they might want to lay some ground rules together for the next fight but whatever they chose from now on I was out of it !

They've not had a real fight since then. The occasional kick/ punch but nothing more.

I don't know if this would work for you.. but I remember being told that what we pay attention to we get more of ... so maybe withdrawing your attention ( whilst not at all condoning the behaviour) and leaving them to sort it out between themselves could work.

Mrsrudolphduvall Fri 28-Dec-12 08:34:36

Are they in the same class at school?

I think you need to work with school on this one, if fighting is happening there..maybe see the behavioural support team.

Dh os a twin...they never see each other at all (men in their 50s). Just don't get on.

MariahScarey Fri 28-Dec-12 08:39:00

Buy the how to talk so teenagers will talk book.

Stop sorting out their fights.

Model good polite behaviour.
Don't shout.

I have three. They never ever fight. It is possible.

MariahScarey Fri 28-Dec-12 08:40:07

I'm sorry to say that it's probably your parenting that's at fault. If your a shouty house they will see that as acceptable.

webfizzystuff Fri 28-Dec-12 14:20:44

Hahahahahahahahaha at MariahScarey

DD1 can start a fight on her own in an empty room - nothing to do with parenting.

MariahScarey Fri 28-Dec-12 15:12:17

of course it is. i have three boys, it would not occur to them to row with each other or with me - never swear and have never said htey hate me, we never row or raise voices - it would be as odd as me hitting them

webfizzystuff Fri 28-Dec-12 15:41:26

I have a DD and a DS who are both teenagers and would not ever row with each other or me and if I only had them I would assume it was all to do with my wonderful parenting. But I do also have another DD who is as fiesty as they come and that stops me being judgy and smug.

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

Your genes then.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!!

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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