By Chrissy Bernal
April was Multiples Awareness Month and it made me think of a question that I’m often asked. How do you help them establish their own identities?
When you have multiples, it can be difficult to treat them as separate people. My girls are often referred to as “The Twins”. They do things so similarly including sleep in the same position. They have their special ability to communicate with each other and they dress alike often.
My husband and I try very hard to allow each of our girls to have her own identity. We focus on doing the following:
Separate activities. If one twin wants to do a particular activity, but the other doesn’t; we don’t force the other twin to participate.
Don’t force them to wear matching clothing. There are times when they come downstairs wearing the same outfit and they teasingly say the other copied. I think secretly they sometimes like to match. However, I let it be their choice. Disclaimer: On occasion I do have them wear matching clothes, but often times; it’s the same events that siblings would wear matching clothes, such as Easter pictures.
Don’t expect them to perform at the same level. Each person has their own potential and their own strengths. So, we don’t expect the girls to get the same grades or be good at the same activities.. We encourage the girls to play up their strengths and not compare themselves to each other. That’s easier said than done. There are times when they’ll get “jealous” of the other—they’re girls. We just focus on staying consistent in reminding them and will refocus their attention to what they do great.
Don’t expect them to behave the same. It’s very destructive if parents say to their children, “Why don’t you act more like your sister/brother?” My girls’ emotional levels are different, so we must be mindful of where each child is in their personal journey to adulthood and self-discovery.
Multiples are special and often enjoy being one of a multiple, but as parents we need to make sure we allow them to be, and encourage them to be, individuals.