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The #1 Resource & Support Network for Parents of Twins

Fostering Individuality In Your Twins

Fostering Individuality In Your Twins


Last updated on November 2nd, 2023 at 11:37 am

When my twins were three years old, we got the first “sleddable” snow in our area. We bundled up and excitedly gathered up the never before used sleds to head toward a small hill in our neighborhood. The hill was crowded with people eager to enjoy the rare snow day, and I watched as moms and dads carried the sleds (and sometimes their child) up and down the slope. The adults were giddy with the uncommon thrill of winter fun, and thus apparently willing to do all the heavy lifting for their child. We, too, made the trek up the hill with our kiddos, and each paired up with one of the twins to sled back down. That’s when we realized that while the hill was super fun for little ones – it didn’t quite do the trick for those of us quite a bit heavier and a lot more awkward.

We quickly adjusted our sledding tactic, with my husband at the top of the hill to hold the sled steady and give them a push, and me at the bottom to catch and cheer and send them back up the hill. As the kids were running out of steam they decided to team up and ride one sled together, and so they began to take turns dragging the sled behind them. We were all having a grand time, and then another mom came over to me as I was watching the kids trudge up the hill. She said, in a not very nice tone, “I can’t believe you are making those babies carry their sleds by themselves.” My first reaction was to wonder if she thought my, small for their age, children were younger than they were, or if she thought the cheap plastic sled (with a rope to drag it no less) was heavier than it really was. I didn’t really say anything in response, though, because I almost immediately defaulted to feeling shamed – thinking that I was yet again getting this parenting thing all wrong. I mumbled something about how they were fine, and having fun, and then raced up the hill to help them their last few times.

twin girls

Once back home, I thought again about what she had said and wondered aloud to my husband if he thought we should have been carrying the sleds for the kids. He was emphatic that I not spend any more time worrying about some “busybody,”. He went on to say that she probably just didn’t understand that twins often have to fend for themselves more often, and learn to be more independent, because mom (or dad) just can’t always cater to the every wish and whim of one child at a time. That made sense to me, and I let it go, until I was recently reminded of it again for a whole different reason. I asked my daughter, who is now 7 years old, to help a friend take something to her car. She agreed, but first called for my son (her twin brother), to help too. When my friend said, “they do everything together, don’t they?”, I thought about how much we have done to encourage them to help each other and be good siblings, but wondered if we are doing enough to foster their independence as individuals.

I admit that I love seeing their twin bond in action. They truly are each other’s best friend, and they seem to really enjoy being twins, most of the time. I know it is important, though, to make sure that they value what they have to offer as individuals, as well.


Having two parents that work outside of the home means that my twins have been in “school” for most of their life. In preschool they were in separate classes, and then together in the same class for Pre-K. When they entered Kindergarten we were adamant that they be separated. We learned in their Pre-K year of school that when they were together, they developed very distinct classroom roles.

Fostering Individuality In Your Twins

My son was the academic, answering all of the questions for the two of them, and “helping” my daughter on all tasks. My daughter was the social butterfly and that meant my son didn’t have to learn how to make friends of his own. He didn’t learn to play and interact with the ones he was most interested in getting to know on his own. Once separated again in Kindergarten, they both blossomed and now are independent of one another at school. They do homework separately, and although they will often quiz each other with math problems, or test one another’s spelling, they don’t look to each other for answers or help each other when they shouldn’t. They have their own friends, and will wave to each other at lunch and sometimes visit at recess, but at school and in their classrooms they are definitely individuals. In fact, teachers, parents and students who we see outside of school are often surprised to learn that they are twins!


Now that my twins are almost eight years old, they have attended countless birthday parties solo. When they were younger, I would often finagle an invite for the twin who wasn’t necessarily friends with the birthday boy or girl, and definitely avoided having boy or girl only get-togethers. The kids are now at the age where boys are “gross” to my daughter, and my son thinks most of the girl’s activities are “boring.” They have entirely different groups of friends, with very different interests, and I now realize that’s a good thing. The bonus is that while my daughter is at a sleepover, or my son is involved in the raucous neighborhood kickball game, we get some pretty special and rare one-on-one time with the kids, and sometimes even kid-free time!


Interests and Activities

We want our kids to be active and engaged outside of school. Whether it is a passion for athletics, arts or academics, I think it is good for confidence, self-esteem and personal growth for children to pursue extracurricular activities. When my two were younger we tried out a few activities together. We put them in the same activities thinking it would be much easier to manage the schedule, which it was. We believed that as long as we were exposing them to a variety of extracurricular options, we were doing what we needed to encourage individual interests. It didn’t work out like that, however.

Soccer was easy for us. It close to the house and the games were at the same place. But only one of my kids liked it and the other was definitely not enjoying this supposed fun activity. Same story with scouts, and gymnastics, and music lessons. Both kids never liked the same thing and while one was usually happy and developing a real interest in something, the other was kind of miserable. We finally realized that, despite creating serious logistical issues, we had to let them do different activities. But made a rule that it could only be one activity at a time. Now, I think this is where their individuality is shining through the most. They finally each have something to call their own, and I can honestly say that they definitely don’t do everything together!

Shellie Fossick

Shellie Fossick is “mom” to 9 year old boy/girl twins.  She is also the Development Director for a non-profit organization that provides high-quality early care and education for more than 400 low-income children in Middle Tennessee.  She lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and two children.

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