We investigated the association between maternal expressed emotion and twin relationship quality, after controlling for a maternal questionnaire measure of the mother–child relationship. This was explored within a community sample of 156 mothers and their two young twin children (M
child age = 3.69 years; SD
child age = 0.37). Mothers reported on the twin–twin relationship and the mother–child relationship via questionnaire. They were also interviewed about each child using the innovative Preschool Five Minute Speech Sample (Daley et al., 2003), which yields information about relative positive:negative maternal expressed emotion. Mothers who expressed more family-wide positive emotion and less family-wide negative emotion also reported more positivity, but not negativity, within the twin relationship — even when controlling for questionnaire reports of the mother–child relationship. Counter to expectations, discrepancies in mothers’ expressed emotion between their twins also predicted more positive sibling relationships. Our findings corroborate the well established spill-over effect, whereby families are viewed as emotional units of interdependent individuals, none of whom can be understood in isolation from one another. Most importantly, the Preschool Five Minute Speech Sample provides information about mothering that questionnaire reports may not, and thus it is a useful tool in better understanding the twin family system.