The development of twin children usually differs from that of singletons, due to the situation in which twins grow up. A search on the internet will easily lead us to information about competition, dominance, comparison between twins, or the special twin bond. But there ain’t much information about what it’s like to be a sibling of twins. Or information for us parents about how we can help our siblings deal with not being a part of the team.
I have had twin parents contacting me about this topic. They say: I expected my twins to be hard to handle, but instead my sibling is the one who is constantly showing behaviour problems! The point is that feeling left out can easily lead to behaviour problems, like repeatedly claiming attention in a negative way. It can be hard to deal with that.
You see, you can not always protect your child from feeling left out. For twins it is normal to have a strong bond. During the first years of their lives twins spend most of their time together, playing and eating together and maybe sharing the same bedroom. No wonder they make a good team.
But for their siblings and friends it can be hard to join in. So what can you do? You can not expect your twins to be less focusses on each other. But you can teach them to help other children join in.
Twins usually have great social skills for they grow up in a shared environment. But if your twins are so focused on each other, their siblings and friends can easily feel left out. There are several things you can do to help your children to get better socially equiped. First of all, it’s important that your children become aware of how their behaviour effects others. So start teaching your children to evaluate their behaviour.
Here’s what you can do:
- Encourage your twins to invite other children to join in. You can help them by giving them a particular role, preferably one that suits the introduced child. You can make an older sibling the ‘manager of the game’. Or you can say: She’s a fantastic drawer. Maybe she can draw a huge map that you can use for your racing game?
- Be a role model for your children. Show them how to invite other children to join in. Lead by example. Show them that you think it’s important to help other children participate. And show them how to do that. For example, if you play a game with one of your children and the other wants to join in, you can suggest your child to come sit close to you, doing a separate activity, like drawing or making a jigsaw. This way you can continue your own activity with your child whithout rejecting the other.
- Give your children feedback. It is important to let your children know what’s right and what’s wrong. This way they learn what behaviour is socially acceptable. Children are not always aware of how their behaviour effects others, so it’s good to point this out for them. For example, say: Did you know that your brother feels left out? Do you have any idea why?
- Explain why it is important to help other children join in. If you want to change your childrens behaviour, you need to explain why they should. You can say: If he can’t join in, he feels left out and that makes him sad. Being left out makes you feel lonely, you wouldn’t like that either, would you?
- Help your children communicate better. Sometimes children accidently exclude others due to misunderstanding each other. So try to help them to explain to each other how they feel. If they have an argument, you can say: hold on, something is going wrong right now. Let’s see what happened. I think you misunderstand each other. If you tell me what’s going on I will help you solve this problem. And then you can suggest several solutions and help them decide what to do.
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