Worried that your twins are getting lumped in together? Encourage individuality in twins to develop their unique personalities and interests.
Before my twins were born, I swore I wouldn’t dress them the same. “I want them to have their own personalities and not get lumped in as twins all the time. They’ll look too alike and others will forget they’re individual people.”
Well… come delivery time, my twins looked nothing alike.
Even now at eight-years-old, they’re as different as can be. One is tall, the other short. One has straight hair, the other has wavy. One is tall and lean, the other short and built. And that’s just with their appearances. They also have their own personalities, favorite activities, and food preferences.
Encouraging individuality in twins
Despite how different they look, they can still be lumped in as “the twins” if we’re not careful. Other twins—adult twins—can attest to the difference in a twin relationship versus a regular sibling one. Competition, a compromised sense of self, and comparisons are just some of the issues twins have to deal with.
That doesn’t mean twins are doomed to sharing the stage with their twin, even if they share the same birthday. I want my twins to feel whole and complete exactly as they are without needing to be part of a pair. How can we encourage individuality in twins? Take a look at these tips you can try:
1. Spend one-on-one time with each twin
Your twins will spend almost every minute with each other. They do the same activities, from eating to sleeping to playing. Logistics makes it easier to “batch” their activities.
You can switch things up by spending time with each twin. At home, snuggle with one child on the couch while the other is reading a book. Take one twin out for an errand while another adult stays home with her twin.
Spending time alone with a parent is already recommended for non-twin kids. It’s even more important for twins to feel comfortable apart to bond with their parents.
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2. Encourage your twins to choose
One of my good friends is a twin, and she told me her parents didn’t always dress them in matchy-matchy clothes. Instead, they’d go shopping and ask them which clothes they liked. They encouraged them to choose their own clothes and establish their style and preference.
Even if your twins are still too small to shop for clothes, you can still ask them, “Which shirt do you want to wear—the yellow shirt or the blue shirt?” They’ll feel empowered making choices, even if it means pointing to one of the shirts you’re holding up.
Besides clothes, you can encourage them to choose meals at a restaurant, books they’d like to read, or toys from the store. Don’t feel compelled to get them the same matching items all the time.
3. Address your twins by name
As much as possible, avoid addressing your twins simply as “the twins.” If someone asks how your family is doing, reply with “Siena and Moira started school…” instead of “The twins started school…” Even better: give updates on each twin, “Siena is really into solving puzzles right now…”
This also applies to how you address them. If you need to call for them, don’t always say, “Hey twins…” but “Hey Siena and Moira…”
Yes, it can take longer to say, spell, or write their individual names than saying “the twins.” But by calling and talking about them by name, you’re establishing their unique lives and personalities.
4. Don’t assume your twins will like the same things
My twins enjoy many of the same activities (riding bicycles, watching cartoons, and reading, for instance). But I’ve also seen each one develop his own interests. For instance, one of them likes drawing more than the other, and one likes to help cook while the other could care less about it.
And this is just in childhood. More than likely, they’ll have equally similar and different interests as they enter adulthood. They might go to different colleges, or participate in different activities in school.
Each of your twins will have her own favorite activities that the other isn’t interested in. It’d be unfair to assume that they both like the same things, or force a disinterested twin to participate in activities she’s not interested in.
Yes, more often than not, they’ll enjoy similar interests, but this won’t apply to everything, either.
5. Give your twins different gifts
Doubling up on toys to give as gifts? Consider giving different gifts for each child instead, especially based on their interests.
Don’t buy the same fire truck twice, or even a fire truck for one and an ambulance truck for the other. One might like fire trucks but the other might want an art set. Give two different gifts they can share and play with, or enjoy on their own.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to all gifts. I’ve given my twins two of the same thing, from matching bathrobes to similar spinning toys.
But don’t feel compelled to give similar toys to both just because they’re twins. What works for one child may not appeal to the other. Giving them gifts to encourage their passion embraces their individuality.
By default, twins are lumped together—there’s no avoiding that. Identical twins are even confused for one another from looking so alike.
To help them gain a sense of self, encourage their unique individuality. Let them choose their own clothes and pursue their own interests. Address them by name, not just as “the twins.” Don’t assume that what one likes, the other will as well. And spend one-on-one time with each child.
They’ll know they’re unique and wonderful the way they are—and not because their identity is tied to being a twin.
Get more tips:
- Simple Strategies to Take Toddler Twins Out Alone
- How to Avoid Excluding Your Non-Twin Child
- Twin Baby Registry Must-Haves
- How to Prepare and Care for Newborn Twins
- How Caring for Newborn Twins is Different from Singletons
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