I’m that mom that LOVES to dress my twins the same. I’m the one thinking up Halloween costumes only twins can pull off, and I am guilty of overusing #twinning. But as my twins get older, I’ve started to intentionally foster independence in my twinnies. (Oops, I did it again.)
I have fraternal girl twins that are as different as night and day, but still, so many people see them as the same person. Independence is crucial for every child, but twins often have to work harder to get it. I must constantly remind myself, that although they shared a womb, and share a birthday, they are still two separate people. To encourage their individuality, I have been doing my best to observe their differences and unique traits.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned, along with a couple of bonus side effects.
Honor their Preferences
As with many parents of twins, I have one twin that is the natural leader, and the other that follows her sister around. I had to learn how they like to spend quality time so I could boost the confidence of my little follower.
Need some twin parent friends? Get the support you need with a Twiniversity Membership. Benefits include a monthly twin parent club meeting on Zoom, access to a private Facebook group just for twin parents, and a video library of twin parenting lessons. Visit Twiniversity.com/membership to join today!
One of my littles loves sitting together on the couch watching a show or reading a book. The other loves going out on adventures and exploring. Each is important and I strive to do these things each day so that they both get what they need.
I also let them make their own choices when it comes to snacks, toys, or art projects. These little things make a difference. When they are encouraged to pick what they want, they are more confident in making decisions. Which in turn allows them to build their own identity.
Let them choose
One of the first steps in fostering independence in twins is allowing them to make their own decisions. This could be as simple as letting them choose which shirt they want to wear or what activity they want to do for the day.
Now that my twins are three, I can no longer force them into matching outfits. Rather, I let them pick out what they feel like wearing. One is into dresses and shoes, the other would rather wear nothing but we settle for a t-shirt and pants.
There are special occasions like family pictures where I may bribe them to dress alike, but in general, I let them have ownership of getting ready in the morning. (Be prepared that people may ask you, “how far apart are they?” and when you answer, “Two minutes!” they are surprised. It gets harder to identify fraternal twins when they aren’t matching.)
Giving them a sense of control over their choices helps build confidence and autonomy.
Separate them in school
This is for each family to decide when the timing is right and you will find zero judgment from me. We separated our twinnies this year, against my wishes, and it ended up being the best decision ever.
They now have their own friends, aren’t constantly compared to one another by teachers, and have very different conversations about how their days went. Plus, in the long run, separate classes could lead to better academic performance. Twins easily become too dependent on each other, limiting their individual abilities and academic skills. Separating them can help them develop their own strengths and how to work independently.
I have noticed their confidence increase and they no longer stick together like glue all the time, just most of the time.
Spending one-on-one time with each twin gives you the opportunity for them to have your undivided attention, and you to have theirs. This helps them feel valued and important. It also allows you to focus on their individual needs and interests, which can help foster their independence.
Got twins? Us too! The Twiniversity Podcast with Natalie Diaz was created BY parents of twins FOR parents of twins, from your pregnancy days through your twin’s teenage years, this podcast covers it all. It’s all about parenting twins, offering plenty of strategies for making life better, parenting hacks, and of course, humor. We are laughing WITH you every step of the way.
During this one-on-one time, allow them to make decisions about what they want to do or where they want to go. This can help boost their confidence in decision-making and allow them to feel more in control of their own lives.
This is a hard one, even for non-twin-baring parents. If it feels like one is falling behind the other, it’s hard not to compare them. But try. Remember that even though they share a birthday, they are two separate people. Focus on their individual strengths and accomplishments, and try not to refer to them as a unit (I know this might just be the hardest tip of them all)!
Overall, fostering independence in twins is crucial for their development and can have many positive effects on their identity, problem-solving skills, and accountability. By honoring their preferences, letting them choose their own clothes, separating them in school (if appropriate), and spending one-on-one time with each twin, parents can help their twins become more independent individuals. Remember to avoid comparisons and encourage problem-solving to further support their growth. With these strategies in place, you can help your twins thrive and become confident, capable individuals.
Would you believe me if I told you that by fostering independence in your twins, they may actually have a stronger bond? WHAT! I know, but it’s true. When twins are encouraged to develop their own interests and identities, they may actually share more with each other.
Check out our Multiple Birth Discounts! This is the most up-to-date list of discounts, freebies, and coupon codes for twins and multiples on the internet. Click here to start saving! While you’re at it, make sure to check out our expecting twins classes and membership programs…
I have noticed that by encouraging them to be their own people, they are more helpful around the house. NO seriously. By giving my twinadoes a sense of independence, they crave responsibility and doing more things on their own.
Case and point, tip number two. By letting them pick their own clothes, they want to get dressed on their own. Does this take a little longer? Yes. But if I plan ahead and make it fun, it becomes one less thing for me to do in the morning. Plus it gives them an immediate sense of accomplishment.
One also likes to take care of the dog and the other likes to help with laundry. It’s a fun way to connect one-on-one with my twins while teaching them about responsibility.
Don’t get me wrong – I still do typical twin mom things. I still throw one birthday party and I try to ensure that everything is split 50/50. But, I’m learning to focus more on their individuality and less on their twin bond. (Because let’s be serious, they will always have an amazing twin connection.)
While I miss the days of strangers stopping me and doting over my babies, it is fun to watch them grow into their own little people. I am better at noticing how one responds more to music and art, and the other loves puzzles and dinosaurs. It’s the little things that help me encourage them to march to their own beat. So, go ahead and dress your twins alike for that adorable photo, but remember to also foster their individuality and independence along the way.
As a parent of twins, fostering independence in each child can be a challenging task. It’s essential to give each twin the opportunity to develop their own identity and explore their interests.
Stefani Zimmerman Drake is a wife, twin mom and lover of rescue dogs. As a strategic communications consultant who runs her own business in Charleston, South Carolina, Stefani and her husband spend their time capturing all the sweet moments of their girls, while always dreaming about their next big adventure. You can follow their adventures online or via Instagram stories. a