Tue 26 Oct 2010
Twin Friendships are relatively easy to manage when twins are very young, but as twins get a little bit older, twin friendships can really be a challenge. Like many things twin, the dynamic is different with each unique set of twins, but there are many common twin friendship struggles.
These struggles get introduced when twins venture into new territory where new friendships can develop — such as school, sports, church, and other extra curricular activities. These opportunities open the doors to meeting new kids and often times bring separate exposure to new kids. Whereas in the early years, twins are frequently introduced to new friends at the same time, and have the same opportunities for becoming friends. Friendships in the early years are often (not always) formed almost as a unit. Both twins are friends with another child (or another set of twins). Yet, even with these shared friends, struggles may begin to arise as children get a little bit older and want to stake a claim to a particular shared friend.
One Twin’s Friend
Even in the closest twin bond, when one twin makes a new friend that the other twin may not have been introduced to, or who has had limited exposure to, feelings can get hurt. No one wants to feel like the 3rd wheel. Unfortunately, this circumstance is very common with twins. One twin will often feel like the odd man out. Twins who once got along beautifully are now struggling. This shows itself in many ways, from temper tantrums to sabotage.
Helping a twin cope
Parents need to be keenly aware of new friendships and help twins work through feelings of being shut out. This might take the form of a special activity for the other twin to enjoy when their sibling is having a special playdate. Parents can also actively search out opportunities for the other twin to make individual friendships of their own. But probably most important, is encouraging your child to talk about her feelings. Help her to put herself into her twin’s place and explore those feelings, as well as putting herself into the new friends’ position.
Helping a twin to be empathetic
But the burden of understanding should not be placed solely on the other twin. The twin that is in the process of forming a separate friendship can use some coaching at this critical point as well. Talk with him about friendships and empathy. “How do you think it feels for Sally, now that you have a new friend? You don’t have to give up your new friendship, but how can you make her feel better along the way?” Helping your children through to deeper understanding is critical in their development into caring young people.
Ultimately, you cannot control your children’s friendships. But, you can be there to be a listening ear. You can encourage your twins to talk about their feelings — with you and with each other. You can help them develop a deeper understanding of their twin bond and begin to develop empathetic feelings for others. You can help them to understand that their actions and friendships are not totally about themselves. Before you know it, they will have many types of friendships and will be caring young adults.
copyright 2010 – TwinParenthood / Kathryn Whiteley