What good could possibly come from your twins being “bad” (or misbehaving)?
When our kids were three years old, we implemented a rewards system to get them to stay in their beds at night. A colorful sticker chart incentivized them to stay in bed after we left the room.
One night, we looked in the video monitor about 15 minutes after putting them to bed when we witnessed a breach of protocol. We saw E get out of her bed, walk over to T’s bed, and rustle her awake. They talked to each other in a conversation of whispers and giggles and then tiptoed out of their room. My husband and I watched this unfold through the monitor. But when they walked out of range of the monitor, we could only sit in the den, silent and waiting. Soon, we saw tiny legs dangling over the top of the stairs. When we walked over to the rule-breakers, they shared a look of anticipation, guilt, and humor.
And that marked their first successful conspiracy against us. Since that time, they have colluded to jump on the furniture, sneak into the lollipop stash, and engage in other soft rule breaking.
Among the adult twins I’ve interviewed, there were many such stories of collusion. There was the twin boy who, at age two, held a chair steady while his sister climbed on it to access the cookie jar. There was the 17-year old who pretended to be her identical twin sister so she could take (and pass) an important test for her. There were twins who plotted against the bully at school. There were twins who plotted against an abusive parent.
And while the stories were all so different, there were some consistent themes stringing their way through them. In almost all of the conspiratorial experiences, the twins worked together as a team. They united to attain the same goal. And they felt closer to each other after the plot was completed.
As parents, we want our children to be close to one other – to feel safe and secure within the family unit. We want our children to form close bonds with one other so they can be themselves. We want them to feel loved and supported unconditionally. So when your twins conspire together, they are engaging in a process that strengthens their sibling relationship.
Now I’m not suggesting that you should turn a blind eye to conspiratorial behavior that causes harm to another individual. I’m simply noting that, when no one gets hurt, a little good can come from your twins being bad. That is, when they’re being bad together.