‘Are they twins?’ ‘They look just the same, they must be identical!’ ‘Which one is which?’
Twins. . .I get these questions on a daily basis. It must be difficult, amazing, and fun to see an identical face looking right back at you! The girls are identical, yet they are intriguingly different. I remind myself daily of their individuality to keep from ‘grouping’ them constantly.
Since having twins, one of my main goals has been to be intentional about growing and encouraging differences between two sweet little girls who look exactly alike. I’ll admit, fostering individuality is not easy and it takes constant effort on my part. Here are four tips that have worked for me while trying to encourage the individuality of identical twins:
1.) Depend on something other than their features to identify each twin.
At birth I chose a signature color for each of the twins, pink for twin A and orange for twin B. Each of the girls also have a different colored necklace that they always wear. They are usually dressed differently; but you know sometimes it is fun to dress them just alike! In this case, each of the girls always wear a different colored bow. This not only gives me the confidence to call the correct name but gives others confidence as well to identify each child correctly.
2.) Encourage each child to be themselves.
Twins, like other children, enjoy doing things together but at times they prefer different activities. Twin A may want to play house and twin B may want to color. In this case, I encourage them to be dissimilar and continue supporting each of the girls in their individual interests.
3.) Pre-plan individual activities with each child.
During a normal ‘school day’ at home, I like to have centers set up where each of the children can do a quiet activity on their own. One of the centers includes an interactive section with mommy. Sometimes I simply talk to each child on their own or I will play a game like ‘I Spy.’ Individual play helps them build confidence on the and keeps them from ‘checking’ with each other before answering for themselves.
Occasionally, I plan for each child to have a separate lunch date with someone special. They love special lunch dates with grandparents, friends and mom and dad. When they are reunited at home it is exciting to see them reconnect and talk about their unique adventures.
4.) Empower each child to make age-appropriate choices.
My girls love color! I allow them to choose their color bow or which shoes they want to wear. We have had some odd combinations, but it is worth it when I remember I am fostering their individuality and a positive sense of identity. They select their plates for meals and most recently they have picked their colored ball for soccer. I think promoting personal choice helps them make decisions on their own without always depending on their sister’s approval.
Fostering individuality is important no matter where your child falls in the birth order. I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he said ‘To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.’
The Growing Up Maury team wants to know your ideas for encouraging unique personalities in your children. Share it in the comments, and ask our special author about raising twins!