Last updated on September 14th, 2023 at 06:53 pm
When my triplets were younger, I used to get away with having them all involved in the same activities. I would put all three in the same gymnastics class or on the same soccer team. This is a great advantage for parents of multiples because you only need to travel to one place that provides three extracurricular activities for your children.
Now that my Girl/Girl/Boy triplets are 8-years-old, they have their interests and passions apart from each other. My son loves all sports – soccer, football, swimming, and basketball. My oldest girl triplet loves dance and gymnastics, and my middle girl triplet is a runner and equestrian. As the triplets grow older, I make a concerted effort to ensure they are following their dreams and not get lumped in with each other for sports and activities.
Multiples may have shared a womb, but they are certainly their own individuals with different personalities. They live together and go to school together, which makes it even more important to talk to each of them about what they are interested in doing in their free time. Before a sports season begins, I sit down with each of them one-on-one without the influence of their sibling, to ask if they want to participate in the activity and why. It is important that your multiples are part of activities because they are interested in it, and not because their twin or triplet is doing it.
What you don’t want to happen is multiples who find it difficult to be without their twin or triplet later in life. When twins don’t have their own identity and individuality, it can lead to problems later in life, like difficulty articulating their emotions.
With multiples, it is often hard to get them to break out of the comfort zone created by having a sibling of the same age. Perhaps they are nervous to be in their classroom, or try their own sport because they are so used to going through life with a partner.
Here are 5 tips to help foster individual interests for your twins and triplets:
1. Consider placing them in separate classrooms
One of the easiest ways to foster individuality in multiples is to put them in separate classrooms at school. This way, twins or triplets have their pool of friends to choose from; they won’t be comparing their school work to their siblings, and they will learn that they can make it through the entire day without their twin and still be OK.
2. One-on-one time with each child
With busy households, it is tough to make time for individual children in the household. Creating one-on-one time is especially important for multiples who are almost never apart. It isn’t easy to organize one-on-one time with our busy schedules, but it is worth the effort. Sometimes on our one-on-one dates, I take one of my kids to lunch or dinner together to a place of their choosing. Other times we just run errands. My kids don’t feel like they need to do anything extravagant, they just want to spend alone time with me. It is during these special one-on-one moments that I get to see my kids for who they are as individuals. We have real conversations about friendships and challenges, without a million interruptions. We have silent moments where we are just together enjoying each other’s company. It allows them to show me who they are as individuals, and it allows them to BE an individual.
3. Encourage separate friendships
It is very easy, especially with twins or triplets who are the same gender, to plan playdates with one friend. Certainly, this is easier for parents. As the kids got older, I have encouraged them to make their own friends, and we have playdates with only that friend.
4. Foster your multiples’ individual creativity
With twins and triplets, the chances are that you have one child who has an artist’s hand, another who is a sports fanatic, and another who likes their quiet reading time. It is part of our job as a parent of multiples to allow our multiples to chooses their creative outlets, respecting their individual personalities.
5. Allow their individual special toys
Of course, as moms and dads, we are always encouraging “sharing with others” among siblings and peers. Unlike siblings of different ages who naturally tend to gravitate toward different toys appropriate for their age, multiples like to play with the same things. My triplets share their toys with each other, but boundaries must be respected: they each have their own toys, which means that the other multiples siblings must ask permission to use each other’s toys. This helps multiples know that not every material item in the house is community property, but they are allowed their unique things that belong just to them.
We are all just moms and dads of multiples who are doing the best we can. Raising multiples is a special challenge that requires unique care and handling. Fostering individuality in our multiples is one of those unique challenges. Just remember, you are incredible, moms and dads of multiples, and you are doing a great job.
Megan Woolsey is the co-editor of a first-of-its-kind anthology written by parents of multiples for parents of multiples, Multiples Illuminated: A Collection of Stories and Advice From Parents of Twins, Triplets and More.
- Should Twins Share A Classroom?
- Pros and Cons of Separating Your Twins in School
- When Can My Twins Have Some Freedom Of Their Own?
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