Every set of twins has a unique bond, often deeper than any other relationship in their lives. It is special and beautiful to watch the connection that the two share, but it can also cause major pitfalls if the twins are not encouraged to develop their own individualism.
If you’re asking yourself why twins need individuality, it’s because they can lose their sense of self if they feel reduced to only being one half of a whole. The connection between twins and identity issues is real. Twins need to build a sense of individuality so that they can feel self-worth, self-love, confidence, and independence.
Parents of twins have an important role to play in helping their children recognize themselves as individuals. While every child should be encouraged to be their own person, it is especially important to do this for twins – otherwise, they may struggle to feel confident in their own skin throughout their childhood and adult lives. That is why it is extremely beneficial for twins’ development and long-term well-being to ensure that each twin is given their own identity.
So, here are some tips for parents on how to help their twins develop their own unique identities. These tips are designed to prevent identity issues between twins and show the root causes of why twins need individuality.
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Embrace Different Clothes and Styles
Self-expression is one main reason why twins need individuality. That can often come down to appearance, at least initially. It can be helpful to start by dressing them in different clothes and styles, especially if the twins are the same sex (which makes finding matching outfits incredibly easy). We all love cute matching and coordinated clothes, and you can absolutely choose to match the kids (or the whole family) on occasion. Although this may take a little more effort and cost, dressing them differently on a regular basis, even as babies, will help them to recognize themselves as two distinct persons.
Now, once the kids get older, this idea becomes imperative. Letting children pick out clothes and dress themselves builds confidence, allows for self-expression, and develops gross motor skills. This is true for all children. Twins may want that extra ability to show themselves as they want to be, and everyone can agree that we should all feel comfortable in our own clothes. So if you have one twin who wants to dress up for Halloween as a super hero and the twin sibling wants to dress as a tree frog, just go with it. Ownership of their clothing choices can build responsibility, creativity, independence, and overall happiness.
READ MORE: Perfect Party Plans for a Twin Birthday
Schedule Individual Time
Parents should make sure to spend special time with each twin individually. This could be a simple one-on-one activity, like baking a cake or taking a walk. That is a great time to talk to the child about life and issues, big and small. It’s also a good time to build him or her up – talk about trials, achievements, worries, fears, blessings, and more. Let them know you love them just as they are, and that you are grateful for them and proud of them.
To further help them recognize themselves as individuals, try to provide each twin with different experiences, preferably ones linked to their own interests. Let them choose different hobbies and activities so that they can explore what they each enjoy. You, as the parent, can play a great part in helping them feel as if they have permission to explore new concepts, ideas, and activities; society will often want to lump them in together, no questions asked. And that why twins need individuality in a safe, loving environment.
Let’s create an example. If one twin enjoys art while the other loves sports, encourage them to pursue their individual passions and join in with them! Make a fun family night with Mom and Twin A going to a pottery class, Dad and Twin B playing some one-on-one hoops at the park, and then meeting back up for froyo at the end of the night! The following month, switch, so that both kids get attention from each parent. This is just one example of how parents can spend individual time with their twins to foster strong, stable identities in each child.
Buy Separate and Unique Gifts
Holidays and birthdays can be great opportunities to give each twin a unique gift! This will show each twin that they are valued as an individual and that their own interests and hobbies are seen, understood, appreciated, and encouraged! It can be cheaper to get one gift for the twins to share, but that should be avoided if possible. Kindly remind family members, like grandparents, that each child would like to be celebrated individually on those days, and that gifts do not have to be extravagant or costly to be meaningful.
For example, if you have a child who loves singing, maybe purchase a karaoke machine or music lessons. If your other twin likes animals, perhaps tickets to the zoo or an encyclopedia about wildlife would be nice. Make it special for the kids by really thinking about them, just as you would do for a singleton child. You may have to help guests remember why twins need individuality, but it’s worth it when both of your kids have strong self-esteem.
Choose Non-Matching Names
This one can be tricky. When naming the twins, it is key to avoid choosing names that are too matchy-matchy. Like clothes, it often feels like there is something special when there is some cohesive element to twin names. Maybe the names rhyme, start with the same letter, or share the same initials. That’s fine! But, when you’re picking out names, keep in mind questions like this:
- Will my twins be teased because of their names? For example, twins named Bert and Ernie might get some laughs for being named after Sesame Street characters.
- Will the names be confusing or difficult to say for me, their teachers, or others? For example, Carson and Carter sound cute until you are frazzled and can’t get both names out.
- Are the names so similar that they aren’t individualized? For example, Ally and Abby look like a cute pair, but they are so similar that some people might not put in the effort to remember who is who.
- Do I like the names, or am I simply trying to find matching names? Don’t overlook names you adore just force some matching set of names you don’t even like.
Naming your children is very personal. You should love the names you pick for your precious little ones.
Separate Twins at School
It is worth considering having your twins in separate classrooms with different teachers and friend groups, as this will also help them develop as individuals. It is important to encourage them to foster different friendships and have different social circles from a young age. This will give them the opportunity to learn different things from different people who will shape them as individuals. It also ensures they do not rely on their twin as a crutch for their social interaction. Plus, as they progress throughout the grade levels, the chances are that they will be split up; it might be easier to work through those feelings at an earlier age.
Talk to your school leaders about the opportunities for your twins to attend different classes or extra-curricular activities. Some schools push to separate twins early on, while others look for more input from the parents. Ultimately, this should be up to you and your understanding of your kids’ needs. If they work well having each other around for support, that’s great! If they need a little separation to learn to thrive apart, that’s okay, too. Stay in contact with your kids’ teacher(s) and find ways to help both kids blossom in school.
READ MORE: Twin Products to Make Your Life Easier
Build a Bond Between Unique Individuals
Twins are special, and there is no need to hide it! Every parent hopes and prays that their children (especially if they are twins) will love and support each other throughout life. Encourage your twins to play together, share with each other, include each other, and support each other at every age.
Still, helping them develop a sense of self is massively important to their emotional and psychological development, and it should not be overlooked. Independence and confidence are vital for us all. So, take the time to follow the tips above. Discuss the differences between the twins. Ensure that they understand that even though they look similar, they have many different qualities and characteristics. Talking about these things will help them recognize that although they are siblings, they are also two distinct people. This is a great way for them to understand that each of them is unique and valuable in their own right.
Remember this quote from the television show character Jerry Smith. He said, “I may be a twin, but I am one-of-a-kind.”
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Check out Becoming A Parent & Embracing My New Identity for more advice, tips, and tricks.
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