If you are raising twins or are a parent of multiples, you may feel extra pressure to treat them as individuals as opposed to grouping them together. Some parents that don’t feel any pressure have no problem dressing them alike, giving them names that are similar, or allowing them to be in the same class at school. I confess I love dressing my girls in similar if not the same clothes when I am out and about – treasuring their “twinship” however I am acutely aware of their individual personalities and developing likes and dislikes. A quick story comes to mind on the girls birthday last week I had painstakingly selected and ordered two beautiful fairy costumes from etsy but on the day Adelaide just refused to wear her dress preferring the second hand cheap white costume instead. No use fighting against it on her birthday. 🙂
Plenty of parents have done so and their twins seemed to turn out just fine when it came to being individuals. Each twin seemed to be able to find his or her interests and made choices based on such. This is double true for me as an older sister to identical twins where Becky was already dressed in blue and Jenny in red, they both have similar attuned interests but no harm was done with separating them in class or dressing them alike.
Parenting experts state that twins tend to carve their own individual paths regardless of what parents do, although you can certainly do things to foster individuality. Here are some of the ways that you can encourage each twin to be an individual.
One on one time
I am so aware of this one at the moment. It may be more difficult to establish one on one time with each twin, but it is important that you do. Every child in a home needs that quality time with a parent to bond, share, and simply be delighted in with no distractions.
Find a way to connect with each twin individually on a fairly regular basis. You can do so by asking your partner to take one twin while you take the other, engage with one while the other is napping, or look for times when the twins are playing apart from each other and engage with one and then the other.
Refer to them as individuals
Do you find yourself saying, “the twins” all the time? The twins did this and the twins are that, etc. Referring to them as such all the time does not encourage individuality. Keep in mind that it is important to refer to them by their first names. I remember my mother pulling my older brother and I aside when we were younger and pointedly reminded us we were to no longer to refer to my sisters as just “The Twins.”
Encourage individual extracurricular activities
If the twins want to get involved in different extra curricular activities, allow them to. Don’t force them both of them to play basketball or take gymnastics if one of them really doesn’t want to. Encourage each twin to pursue interests that appeal to him or her.
Don’t group punish
Just as you would not punish all of your children for the act of one, don’t punish both twins based on the actions of one. This is tempting for parents because it is sometimes easier to just send them both to their rooms when they are both crying, but addressing the one specific behavior is important for each twin to recognize that actions have either positive or negative consequences.
Many twins become each other’s best friend and this is fine, but also encourage each twin to develop a couple of good friends at school. Allow for play dates for each twin or have one twin invite a friend over while the other one goes out for a play date.
Most twins grow up with a healthy sense of individuality and I know I keep reminded of these raising twins and parent of multiples tips. I think keeping these in mind, you will simply increase each twin’s sense of self and individualism. Have fun with your twins and celebrate differences that they may share with encouraging words and actions.