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Raising twins tips

22 February
Posted by:
Michael Grose

Twins are on the increase. Around one in sixty births is a multiple birth, which is up from around one in ninety two decades ago. Most multiples births are twins with around 5% being three or more babies.

With women delaying the birth of their first child and increase in the use of fertility drugs to assist conception, twins are increasingly more common. In the past the majority of twins were youngest born,now twins are more likely to be born first than in any other position.

Raising twins multiplies the challenges, as well as the joys of parenting. Parenting twins in the early years means parents are always tired.

Sleep deprivation, which comes with parenting babies and toddlers, seems twice as bad with twins as they are programmed to wake separately. Mothers of multiples are more likely to say they are exhausted, have no downtime at all, and being depressed.

Mothers of twins obviously need a great deal of partner support, but also practical assistance from broader family and friends, especially in the first few years, which are hectic.

Raising twins is different to parenting single children in other ways as well.

Competitors and companions

Whether they are fraternal or identical twins are usually much closer to each other than other siblings. Most kids want to put as much distance as possible between themselves and their siblings in terms of interests, strengths personality as possible. However twins can feel uncomfortable with too much difference. Twins are part competitor and part companion. They can be different squabbling one minute and fiercely loyal to each other the next.

Twins usually wind up in a first born/second born relationship with one becoming the more assertive leader and the other following along.

Accept that twins are parented differently

Twins experience a parenting style and a family situation that few other children experience. As parents have to split themselves between two children, twins frequently don’t have such strong ties to their parents that other children share.

Before they begin school twins spend almost all their time together so their greatest influence is on each other. They certainly experience less parental anxiety and pressure as their parents just don’t have as much time to worry over every little thing and measure progress in the same way as they do with single children.

Also as their parents are frequently tired they tend to experience more inconsistent discipline than other children. They have the advantage of being able to gang up on their mother and often ignore parental commands unless they are addressed individually.

Twins are less worried about parental approval and they don’t pay as much attention to parents and teachers as other children.

I am an individual ……some of the time

One of the keys to helping a twin develop his or her own personalities is for parents, teachers and grandparents to treat them both as individuals who share the same birthday, rather than as ‘twins’.
This means that parents dress them differently, buy separate birthday presents and address them by their names rather than refer to them as ‘the twins’. If possible give them separate bedrooms although this may not happen until they are well into their primary school years.

Be aware that many twins refuse point blank to have a bedroom of their own, opting to share with their sibling as long as they can.

Organise one-on-one parent time

Twins have less opportunity for one-on-one interactions with parents than single children so try to create opportunities for twins to spend some time alone with each parent. This will help in their language development as well as encourage them to develop relationships independent of each other.

Don’t ignore other children

Being a sibling of twins means that it can be difficult being heard or noticed amongst the constant flurry of activity. An older sibling can sometimes feel displaced by twins, so make sure you make plenty of space and time for them. The attention and time of relatives and friends can often go onto the twins, so you may have to remind others to spread the attention around to include all children in your family.

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