In my last post, I discussed the challenges twins face in finding their own unique identities. This week, I have tips on how you, as a parent, can help your twin child establish his identity — outside of the twinship.
- I discussed this topic in my post titled “Helping Your Twins Form Friendships with Others,” but it bears repeating because it’s important: schedule separate play dates for your twin children. Allow each child to figure out what kind of play she likes, what kind of playmate she prefers, and the rules of playing with non-siblings (they’re often different than the rules at home!).
- You should also probably take this time to tell family and friends to not refer to them as “the twinnies” or “the twins.” Referring to the child by her first name (and not as a simple group member) helps convey to the child that she has value on her own, outside of being a twin.
Elementary School Years
- Educators and psychologists agree that in most cases, twins thrive in separate classes. Your children will behave differently when apart than when together and the traits they demonstrate when they are apart is a big part of who they are.
- Enroll your kids in different after-school activities such as sports, dance, or art classes so they can discover their own special skills and talents.
- Don’t discourage your children from forming different social groups. Social groups help your child feel secure when he is otherwise feeling out of control; they also help your child feel accepted for who he is, despite external pressures to behave in a certain way. The benefit to your twin children having separate social cliques is that they can avoid harming the sibling relationship when intra-clique social conflicts arise.
- Try to have more private conversations with each child, making sure to ask open questions, such as what activities they like and why, what people make them happy, their favorite song, movie, actor, etc. One adult triplet told me that every night after dinner, his mom would go for a walk in the neighborhood with one of the triplets. She would alternate each night whom she would take. It was on these walks that each child was encouraged to really open up about what’s going on at school, with friends, and with his siblings at home. The talks were confidential and each child felt safe to be honest.
- Explore each child’s academic interests separately; don’t assume that because both of your twins are good at science, they each would want to pursue that area of study. Again, having conversations in private is key.
- Engage in separate college searches. There are probably at least 2-3 colleges that are perfect for each child based on the child’s likes, academic needs, and professional pursuits. If you’re traveling to visit colleges, explore one child’s colleges in one trip with that child alone. This will also give him the chance to discuss openly how he feels about going to a separate college from his sibling.
- If your children choose the same college, explore the varying programs and academic opportunities at the college with each child separately.
In fact, at all stages of life, it is imperative that you find ways to have one-on-one time with each child. You will be amazed at how much closer you will feel to each of your children after some one-on-one time with them!
Of course you already know that each of your twin children is special and has needs particular to her alone. And you, as a parent, are blessed with the opportunity to help her find that very wonderful and very unique self.