How to Encourage Individuality in Twins

Worried that your twins are getting lumped in together? Encourage individuality in twins to develop their uniqueness and interests.

Individuality in TwinsBefore my twins were born, I swore I wouldn’t dress them the same. “They might look too alike and others might forget they’re individual people.”

Well… come delivery time, my fraternal twins looked nothing alike. Even now at 10 years old, they’re as different as can be.

Despite their differences, they can still be lumped in as “the twins” if we’re not careful. Competition, a compromised sense of self, and comparisons are just some of the issues multiples have to deal with.

That doesn’t mean twins are doomed to share the stage with their sibling, even if they share the same birthday. They can feel whole and complete as their own person exactly as they are without needing to be part of a pair. How can parents of twins encourage individuality? Take a look at these tips:

1. Spend one-on-one time with each twin

Your twins will likely spend almost every minute with each other. They do the same activities, from eating to sleeping to playing, on a daily basis. 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 child out for an errand while another adult stays home with the other.

Spending time alone with a parent is already recommended for non-twin kids. It’s even more important for twins to feel comfortable apart, bond with their parents, and develop a separate identity.

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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 identical outfits. Instead, they’d go shopping and ask them which clothes they liked. They encouraged them to choose their 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 can 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. See if they’d like different haircuts at the salon, and 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 a family member asks how they’re doing, reply with “Siena and Moira started preschool…” instead of “The twins started preschool…” 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 names than saying “the twins” as a package deal. But by calling and talking about them by name, you’re establishing their unique lives and personalities.

4. Don’t assume your twins 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 outdoor activities 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 separate colleges or participate in different activities in the classroom.

Each of your twins has her favorite activities that the other may not be 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 doesn’t want to.

Yes, as peers, they’ll enjoy similar interests more often than not, but this may not apply to everything.

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 stuffed animals.

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 passions embraces their own 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 their own sense of self, encourage their unique individuality. Let them choose their clothes and pursue their 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 know they’re unique and wonderful the way they are—and not because their identity is tied to being a twin.

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