Parenting Twin Toddlers: Tips for Allowing Separate Personalities to Grow
When parents find out they are having identical twins, they run out and buy identical everything; clothing, booties, blankets, furniture, etc. This is true even when they have a boy and a girl. With two girls/boys, they are matched up perfectly. With one boy and one girl, they are dressed to complement each other.
While this is adorable when they are still wearing diapers and breast feeding, as they hit the toddler years it can become a problem. In fact, it can stunt their development. Parenting twin toddlers can be fun and hard all at the same time. When they are dressed alike it can make things even worse for both you and them, even though it is cute!
While raising identical twins is challenging, allowing them to develop separate personalities can be even harder. Even though they are twins, they are separate people and that is something that parents tend to forget sometimes. This can be especially hard during the toddler years. They are just starting to form a sense of self. This can be a challenge for one child, but for twins it can feel confusing. Having grown up in a family with twins, I have seen it all and therefore have some things to say about it! Keep reading for some good tips on raising your twins as separate people.
Tip 1:Call each of your twins by their own names. So many parents of twin toddlers call them the boys or the girls. This is the easy and convenient way but this actually takes away from their own identities.
Tip 2: Do not label your twins. For instance, do to say “this one is good at baseball and this one is a math whiz”. I have even heard parents refer to one twin as the smart one and the other as the artistic one. This behavior will make them feel as if they have to define themselves by these terms as well and can harm the way they bond with you and with each other.
Tip 3: At some point you will have to stop dressing them alike. It is cute sometimes, but by doing it all of the time you are melding them into one person. A great idea that many parents of twin toddlers use is allowing them to choose their own outfits. This helps in a few different areas. For one thing it allows them to learn about being responsible for themselves. For another it lets them feel important. And finally, when they dress in different clothes their own distinct personalities will begin to shine through.
Tip 4: Many twins will want to stick together. This is normal but you should encourage them to choose their own hobbies. Having separate lives from each other will help them to grow up in a healthy, non dependant way. Also make sure that you take one on one time with each of them as well. This will help you bond and show them that you can be with one without the other.
Tip 5: Never ever compare them to each other. While you may be tempted to do so, hold your tongue and do so when they are out of earshot. I have seen parents lord one twins good grades over the others head because they thought it would make them do better in school. All it really does is make them resentful of their twin and that is a relationship that you do not want to harm. Praise each one for the things that they can do well and show your pride in each of them.
Tip 6: When their birthdays roll around, have a party at the same time but treat is as two parties. Maybe one of your twins likes Dora and chocolate cake and the other likes SpongeBob and yellow cake. Get them each a cake! Invite each ones friends and allow them each separate time to open gifts.
Take these tips into consideration when you reflect on how you are raising your twin toddlers. It is important for them to feel special and this cannot be achieved if they do not feel like two separate people. And just remember that it could be worse; you could have triplets and staying sane with twins is hard enough!