As toddlers grow, they become more confident and test boundaries. This phase is exciting but challenging and parents must guide their kids on acceptable behaviour. This can be tough, especially if some were born prematurely or have special needs.

It's easy to focus on negative behaviour, but here are tips to highlight the positive. This may help reduce undesirable actions but it won't stop them entirely. For more support, consider joining our Behaviour Online Course or attending one of our online behaviour clinics.

Resources for helping manage your multiples' behaviour

We've put together some advice on dealing with different aspects of behaviour in your twins, triplets and more. Here you'll find help with:

Remember: Every family has unique expectations and there's no right or wrong way to parent.


Twins sitting on a wall


Supporting positive behaviour in your multiples

Reward good behaviour instead of waiting for bad behaviour.

  • If they play nicely, join in and give them attention as a reward.
  • Unwanted behaviour can sometimes come as a result of boredom - stop activities before they get bored and redirect them to something new.
  • Use positive language: say "let me see your walking feet" instead of "don't run."
  • Praise each child by name for specific actions, like "well done, Sarah, that was great walking." Encourage siblings to do the same.

Focus on finding positives daily for each child and you'll discover many things to praise. We also have further advice on encouraging individuality in your twins, triplets and more.


Expectations and dealing with behaviour at different ages

Your multiples' behaviour will change as they grow. Here are some common things to expect at each age along with some tips on how to deal with them.

Children at this age may:

  • Enjoy their freedom, loving to move and walk. They may resist being strapped in and can be strong-willed.
  • Have little understanding of danger and are very curious.
  • Continuously test boundaries to learn what is acceptable.
  • With multiple toddlers, safety is crucial. They can't be left alone as they might exhibit behaviours common for their age and development stage, like biting or hitting. We must model turn-taking and playing together. Multiples are expected to do this at an earlier age than singletons and so this takes patience.

How to help:

  • Provide opportunities for them to have a safe place to play. If you are busy then make sure you organise yourself so that you can have one or two with you and one in a safe space.

  • Let them practice skills in safe environments like enclosed playgrounds and soft play areas.
  • Set consistent boundaries. Take turns walking and use positive language like "it's your sister's turn to walk now." By being consistent and rewarding positives they'll get used to the system.
  • Allow walking only when you have time. If rushed, keep them in the pushchair and make time later for exploration.
  • Use distraction to redirect them from undesirable actions, avoiding constant use of "no" to prevent conflicts.

Children at this age may:

  • Be starting to understand how to play with others.
  • Have improving verbal skills, but may not always grasp the concepts they express.
  • Learn what's acceptable but still push boundaries.
  • Seek more control and independence.
  • Want fair treatment and get upset if they feel it's unfair.

How to help:

  • Pick your battles. Focus on the most important issues first, ignoring minor annoyances that aren't safety risks.
  • Give warnings for turn-taking and ending activities so that changes don't come as a shock and they feel more in control.
  • Plan ahead: Avoid starting activities they can't finish to prevent tantrums.
  • During play, encourage them to name emotions and model acceptable ways to handle feelings, like suggesting alternatives to hitting when angry.

Moving from preschool to school can be tough for multiples. This change can lead to challenging behaviours as they step out of their comfort zone and tiredness, common during this transition, can also cause behavior issues. Our 'Preparing for primary school' section and Sleep Online Course can both help during this stage.

Tips for a smooth transition:

  • Identify stressful times of the day and plan to make them smoother. For instance, ensure enough time and organisation for getting out of the house for school on time.
  • After school, give each child a chance to share their day. Use a talking spoon or teddy during chat times, like at dinner or in the car, to ensure everyone is heard.
  • Implement house rules and reward charts. Use positive statements for goals to reward good behaviour instead of focusing on the negative.


Want more information?

If you're looking for more information and help dealing with behavioural issues, our Behaviour Online Course is the place to go.

Find out more


Giving choices to your twins, triplets and more

Allowing toddlers choices helps them feel in control. Here are some tips:

  • Limit choices: Too many options can overwhelm. Offer just two choices, like picking between two items on a menu.
  • Make choices achievable: Ensure the choices are realistic. For instance, offer only t-shirts that are available.
  • Explain simply: Use clear, simple language and visual prompts to help them understand.
  • Allow time: Give them enough time to decide. They may need a moment to think.
  • Set boundaries: Some things aren't optional, like going to school, and they need to understand that.


Sharing amongst your multiples

Multiples are expected to share earlier than singletons. Yet even though they've had to share all their lives, it's often still difficult and can lead to undesirable behaviours. Research has shown toddlers struggle with sharing until age 4 and beyond, so patience is key.

Tips for encouraging sharing

  • Use "turn-taking" instead of "sharing" to make it feel fair. Visual timers can help them understand when it's their turn.
  • Have separate toy boxes so they can own some toys and don't have to share everything. Consider having duplicates of favorite toys.
  • Model sharing through play with toys and books that discuss sharing.
  • Be a good role model by sharing yourself and encouraging older siblings to do the same.


Twins playing in a ball pit


Dealing with tantrums

Children up to age 7 are very egocentric, believing everyone thinks like them. This leads to tantrums when they want something badly and emotions take over. Understanding this can help parents be more patient with multiples - our job is to guide our toddlers through this overwhelming emotion and teach them how to cope with them in the future.

Tips for handling tantrums

  • Stay calm: Speak calmly to reassure both your toddlers and yourself. Phrases such as 'I can see you are very cross/angry but unfortunately we can't go to the park now. We can go another day' can help them to label the emotion they are feeling.
  • Ensure safety: They may not want you too close, but making sure they can't hurt themselves is important.
  • Use distraction: Redirect their attention to break their emotional overload. This isn't giving in, just helping them move on.
  • Talk afterwards: When they are calm, discuss what happened to help them process their emotions.
  • Watch for cues: Spot signs of anger early and try to defuse the situation. Discuss strategies you use to remain calm and be a good role model.

Our behaviour course has more detail on tantrums and advice on how we can try to avoid them.


Personal stories from parents of multiples

Hear personal stories about how people have experienced behaviour with their multiples and how Twins Trust services like our Twinline helpline supported them.

Helene's story
Having a Twins Trust volunteer expert at the end of the phone with some handy techniques has been a real lifeline for parents Helene and Gordon Stewart.  


Further help and resources from Twins Trust

It's natural to feel unsure about how to deal with your children's behaviour and we understand that there are lots of questions you may have about how best to go about this. We're here to support you during this stage of your children's development and the below resources have lots more useful information about behaviour.


Our helpline, Twinline, is here to support you, answering questions about feeding, sleeping, starting school, friendships, getting to grips with the teenage years, or anything else multiples related.

Behaviour online course

This two part online course will enable you to consider parenting styles, how you view your multiples' behaviour and how best to deal with this behaviour in a positive way. 

Behaviour online clinic

Our regular behaviour clinic gives you the opportunity to drop in and chat with experts and other parents of multiples about your children's behaviour.