From the moment I learned I was having twins, I had a lot to worry about. Would they be born early? Would I be able to tell them apart? Would I have enough time to meet their individual needs? In fact, I was so worried about giving equal attention to both babies that I used to alternate which baby I tended to first based on the day of the week! Over time, those fears have diminished. I know now that my twins get what they need from me without a schedule. But as a parent of multiples, fostering our twins’ individuality is a priority. I want to ensure that my twins realize that they are two unique individuals born at the same time. While I am certainly not an expert, here are a few of the intentional steps I take to build their sense of self.
People often ask me how to tell my identical twins apart. This question can be tricky to answer, because to me they look similar, but not the same. However, I know for others it can be a challenge. I think it is my job to assist people in distinguishing my kids from each other whenever possible. I rarely dress my twins alike, especially if I know they will be around new people at school, or at a gathering with extended family. Another effective strategy I have found is for each twin to wear some sort of identifying marker, like a designated color. I also encourage my twins to correct people when they are called by the wrong name. I try to make a habit of looking for the differences in my twins and encourage others to as well.
Part of being an individual is having things that are just yours, or just for you. This can be difficult when it comes to twins. Many twins share everything from toys to clothes, a room, and friends. So whenever possible, I try to provide two separate experiences within the same activity. So maybe you have one birthday party, but two cakes. Or your twins share a room, but they each have their own area to decorate and express themselves however they see fit. Allowing my twins to create their own experiences is important to me.
Separating my twins for one-on-one time is a struggle because they really love being together. But I know how important it is for kids to get undivided attention. Taking just one twin with you while running errands is great for everyone. Your twin gets some alone time and having just one with you feels like a vacation. I also try to find time with each twin where they get to control the activity.
Creating a culture of individuality with your twins is attainable. Have conversations early and often about differences in all types of people. Seek out developmentally appropriate books that reinforce this message. Their bond will grow, as your twins learn that it takes two individuals to make a great pair.