The Disadvantages of Being a Twin
Although any set of siblings can go through ups and downs during childhood, twins can have a harder time due to the closeness of age, physical likeness and the way others treat them. When you’re faced with raising twins, you must recognize the disadvantages that each child goes through and address the issues accordingly. Being proactively involved with each child and using creative parenting skills will smooth out some of the rough areas of this situation.
Just because your twins were born on the same day and may share striking physical resemblances, that doesn’t mean they are the same person. It can be easy to forget that each is an individual and it can be very frustrating for those twins when people treat both of them as one person. Keep in mind that each of those twins is an individual with separate interests and goals, and a different personality. Forgetting these facts can negatively impact each child's self-image and ability to develop a strong self-identity. This is especially important during birthdays and holidays when it can be very tempting to buy matching toys or outfits. Go for individual birthday cakes, different toys and unmatched outfits to let each twin shine in his own light.
Having two children the same age can be overwhelming at times. You may feel like you’re always double booked and never have enough time to spend with your kids. This can lead to parent-and-twins time instead of the quality parent one-on-one time that each child craves. When you do find a few spare minutes between work, dropping kids off at school, running errands, cooking and cleaning, try to find time to spend with each of your twins individually. HealthyChildren.org suggests reading the twins individual bedtime stories to make each child feel special, even if they sleep in the same room 1. This one-on-one time will allow each child to feel special, important and loved as an individual instead of half of "the twins."
Since each twin wants to be known as herself and not her twin, it can be irritating and exasperating when she is always confused for her sister. If you accidentally scold one twin for not being in class but it’s the other twin that's getting in trouble, it will lead to frustration and hurt feelings. This twin confusion can come from neighbors, teachers, coaches, extended family and even parents. The KidsHealth website suggests adopting something that sets the twins apart, such as a different hairstyle, to reduce twin confusion.
Comparison and Competition
When people start comparing the twins, it can affect each child’s self-esteem and cause hard feelings. It can also increase the chances of personal comparison and competition. Twins may start demanding equal time and pay extra attention to what the other twin gets. If the twins are placed in the same classroom, one twin may feel discouraged if the other receives praise or attention. According to Professor Pat Preedy's "School Policy for Twins and Higher Multiples," twins tend to score lower on IQ and language skills tests due to the lack of individual interactions. To cut down on these situations, opt for separate classroom placement, give individual assessments and praise the individual efforts of each child.
- HealthyChildren.org; Twins; Two Distinct Individuals
- KidsHealth: Parenting Multiples
- KidsHealth: When You Are a Twin or Triplet
- Votteler TP1, Lipsky K. (2005, April). Long-term Results of 10 Conjoined Twin Separations. J Pediatr Surg. 2005 Apr;40(4):618-29.
- Xie, J., Zhou, L., Yang, Z., & Sun, H. (2012). Epigastric Heteropagus Conjoined Twins: Two Case Studies and Associated DNA Analysis. Clinics, 67(5), 527–529.
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