encourage individuality in twins

From the moment I found out I was having twins, I began thinking of them as a single unit. They weren’t two babies, they were “the twins”.

It was a struggle to separate the idea of the two of them in my head. As soon as my babies were born though, it was instantly apparent that they were very, very different from each other.

Now, at nearly 2, they are two very unique little girls, and we love to celebrate the things that make each of them who they are.

Encouraging individuality in twins can be a challenge, and it’s one that I suspect we will continue to run into as they get older. We’ve made an effort to do a few things to make sure they each have room to be themselves.

Dress them Differently

When my twins were newborns we often dressed them in matching clothes. It had to be done. Truthfully, I still do it now, but it isn’t a daily thing. More often than not, I’ll hold up two clothing choices and let them each pick what they want to wear. It’s so much fun seeing their own individual style start to show. One twin loves anything frilly and pink, the other would wear jeans and a t-shirt every single time if given the chance. My twins aren’t even 2 yet, and they already have their own styles.

Spend Time with them One-on-One

Spend time with them individually. I nursed my twins for over a year so for the first year of their life they both went everywhere with me. Once I weaned them, I started making an effort to spend individual time with them whenever I could. I started taking just one twin to the grocery store with me or sending just one twin with my husband to pick up my boys from school. It gives them a chance to spend time one-on-one with us and gives them a break from each other (which is definitely needed sometimes).

Focus on their Individual Interests

The older my twins get, the more their differences become apparent. One twin loves playing with dolls and the other loves blocks. One would live off of bananas and the other can’t stand them. We try and look for ways to help them explore the things that are unique to them. They receive different gifts for birthdays and holidays. They each have their own comfort items in their cribs. They have different relationships with each of their siblings — my older daughter is very close with one of the twins while the other twins has her brothers wrapped around her finger.

Don’t Assume they are the Same

I had a conversation with an older woman who was confused that my twins didn’t start crawling on the exact same day. After talking with her, I think she had “twins” and “clones” a bit mixed up. Twins do things on their own schedule and have their own personalities. It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing them to each other, but fight against it. There’s a wide range of behaviors that are normal developmentally so twins are not going to do the same thing at the same time. Let them grow and develop at their own pace. It will be easier on them and on you.

Speak about them Individually

I worked to get into the habit of speaking about my twins as individuals. Instead of saying “the twins like to . . . “ I try and call them by name and speak about their individual interests. As they are getting older, they pay attention when I am talking about them, and I want to make sure they always know that I see them for who they are as my two daughters and not only as “the twins.”

Do you have twins? How do you encourage individuality?

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