Your twins may look alike and perhaps even act alike, but they are different in many ways. Encouraging their own individuality will become more and more important as they grow older. As a parent, how can you help them discover their own identities? How do you know if separating your twins in group situations is what’s best for them? And how you help educate others and avoid common twin stereotypes?
Encouraging Twin Individuality
Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Twins have a special bond and unlike any other relationship. They often choose each other over everyone else and many may view them as an impenetrable dynamic duo. But just because they have such a strong bond, it doesn’t mean that they should be treating as a single unit.
I’m Dr. Deborah Pontillo, paediatric psychologist and expert on child development, behaviour and learning. I’m here to talk about: “How parents can encourage individuality within their twins.” This is Twin Talks Episode Number 23.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, welcome to Twin Talks broadcasting from the Birth Education Centre of San Diego. Twin Talks is your weekly online on-the-go support group for expecting and new parents to twins. I’m your host Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald.
Have you heard about The Twin Talks Club? Our members get bonus content after each new show plus special giveaways and discounts. Subscribe to our monthly Twin Talks Newsletter and learn about the latest episodes available.
Another way for you to stay connected is by downloading our free Twin Talks App. It’s available in the Android and iTunes Marketplace. Before we get started; let’s introduce ourselves who we have in the room, Sunny?
SUNNY GAULT: I know. It’s like we need coffee. I need coffee. Hey everyone. This is Sunny. I am the owner of New Mommy Media which produces Twin Talks as wells as Preggie Pals, Parent Savers and The Boob Group.
I’m the mommy to four children under the age of four currently. Two of those children are twins. My identical girls are just about five months. Actually five months as of yesterday. Then, I’ve got two older boys – Sayer well he’ll be four in July and Urban who will be four in another in another week or four. Hello. I really do need that coffee. He’ll be two otherwise I have two sets of twins. So, that’s my family.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: All right and Shelly?
SHELLY STEELY: I’m Shelly Steely. I’m 30. I’m a high school teacher and I’m also the producer here at Twin Talks. I have two children; identical twin boys who will be two in July. I’m currently 20 weeks pregnant with a girl.
SUNNY GAULT: When is your due date?
SHELLY STEELY: August 29th.
SUNNY GAULT: August 29th.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Kind of balancing sound right back there. Get some pink in there. I’m Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald and I definitely have a lot of pink in my household. I’ve got twin identical girls who are 4 ½ and then I also got a singleton who’s 18 months old. She’s a little power house all of in herself. So, my husband is just horribly outnumbered.
SUNNY GAULT: Do you at least have a dog that’s male?
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: He keeps saying that: “He wants to get a dog. You know like big Kahunas.
SUNNY GAULT: Even if playing, they can win the football together.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Yes, exactly.
SUNNY GAULT: It’s cute.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Shelly before we dive in, can you tell us about our Virtual Panellists Program?
SHELLY STEELY: So, there’s a number of ways to get connected with Twin Talks and addition to using our app or listening to the podcasts, you can also follow us on Facebook or on Twitter at Twin Talks.
We have a Virtual Panellists Program where you can participate from the comfort of your own home just by using hash tag #TwinTalksVP. That allows you to join in the conversation, share some questions or thoughts and get those answered for you.
SUNNY GAULT: Awesome.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Today, we do have a special segment that we call: “Twin Oops.” These are just funny stories from twin parents and our listeners can call in and give us a ring at 619-866-4775 or you can post on our Facebook Page. Do you have any funny stories about nursing in public that you can share?
SHELLY STEELY: The one that I was just with my singleton about trying to feed her on-the-go in the truck without like sitting on her and really putting my boob in her face. But, with the twins, I would highly suggest people always think about what you wear. When you’re in the sand, I learn the baby powder trick because there’s nothing like trying to feed babies when you’ve got sand on your boobs.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: What is the baby powder trick?
SHELLY STEELY: It’s just like magic. I hate the beach with kids because of sand. If you put baby powder like if they have sand on them, anywhere on them; you just put baby powder on it, it’s like the sand just falls off. It’s like this magic. It’s crazy. So, now I make sure that I carry baby powder.
I remember the boobs and trying to wipe sand off your boobs and then your boobs hurt. That point, you’re completely fully exposed because you’ve got to get the sand off your boobs because you can’t feed them with sand on your boobs because your kids are going to get sand in their mouth.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Well, today’s topic is: “Encouraging twin individuality.” Today, we’re talking with Dr. Deb Pontillo who’s here to help us understand: “How we can help our twins develop their own individuality and why it’s so important.” Well, hey thanks for joining us today Dr. Pontillo.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure as always.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: First of all, help us understand. I mean help us understand. Why is it so important for twins to have their own identity? We think of them: “They’re very cute and especially if they were identical twins. I think it’s so cute when we dress them all alike.” Do we really need to encourage individuality?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Obviously, they’re little people. It’s not really their fault that they came in a package so cute. Although, it’s so lovely and we all enjoy them as a package; ultimately, we want them to grow up to be healthy adults with their own identity, with self-esteem, self-confidence and the security of knowing who they are, what their likes and interests are, what their strengths and weaknesses are just like anybody else.” Form healthy adult relationships with other people.
That starts really very little as they have experiences together; it’s nice to have that foundation. But, they really need to start to develop that identity of who they are as a person very, very young. So, part of the job as parents that we do perhaps more naturally when we have singletons that are separated by age.
But, it’s more important to kind of focus on as they go through experiences together – perhaps at the same time or in the same place to make sure they have those opportunities to develop their own sense of self and how they are unique from one another.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Is there any particular time as parents that we need to say: “Okay, we really need to start focus on that. When they’re babies, when they’re toddlers – at what point and stage is it become critical?”
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Well, I think each stage gives you sort of different opportunities to do it in a different way. But I think really from the time they are six months old and they really have an understanding that they are separate from their mother and they are their own being. They’re not attached and they have that understanding as well which is why you get separation anxiety of: “I am not my mother. I am my own person.”
That you can really begin to start introducing relationships that are separate from other people even in the household not only just they’re twins. They might want to eat at that moment and their twin may not. That might be okay – or they might want to play with a certain toy and they’re twin might be sleeping.
So, there are a lot of opportunities from very early age just to start reinforcing that they have different wants and needs; and maybe in different emotional places at the same time.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I could imagine that if you have different members of the household that may foster different types of relationships with them. Also in my case, I’ve noticed that one of my twins; she has this extra sort of mothering-nurturing instincts towards the singleton.
I said: “Julie, can you come help?” She is the one that comes and sort of holds her and does this little hug and tries to pick her up – the other one, not so much. So, I haven’t tried to discourage it. I’m trying to encourage and say: “That’s really great.”
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Yes.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I know that rather than saying: “Okay, you need to act the same towards yours sister.” Great, they might have a very unique relationship.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: That’s right. Of course, as you know; that might change as they grow older and mature. So, as much as they are showing those differences now; it’s also good to allow the other one when he/she is ready to have some of those nurturing behaviours too.
I think sometimes myself included because we tend to sort of have in our minds these conceptualizations of who are kids are and what their personalities are. That might not be true for always.
You don’t want to get stuck in the pigeon-hole of this child is the nurture and the other one is not because in a year, that’s a totally switch around back and then around and then back. It’s true. So, for right now; yes, that’s great. Maybe the other one will step up and want to have a part of that too.
SHELLY STEELY: I know we’ve always tried to avoid labels as much as we can because other people really want to kind of like you said pigeon-hole. The boys, even when they were little; this one is going to be the smart one. That one is the serious one. I mean in the hospital, they were two-days old and Greyson – he would just scream like nobody’s business. The nurse is like: “This is one is going to be the one who gives you trouble.”
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Right.
SHELLY STEELY: That’s not true at all. It depends on week, day, and hour even which one. It’s really hard because people want to label them so they can tell them apart or look for personality characteristics and they’re not opposite people. We can’t – anymore than I’m the smart one compared to my brother.
So, I think it’s a challenge to kind of make sure that you’re noticing what’s different about them and identifying it -- but recognizing that it changes all the time like you said.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Exactly.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: It seems like that’s a great point as far as the labelling. I think that you’re right. It’s so much about. It’s for the convenience of the friends and family members so that they have a reference point. It’s really not so much about the kid. It’s just: “Okay, I have something that I have at least conjured up that helps me identify which is which.”
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Also, it happens with singletons too. You get a child who’s got a lot of tantrums going on. Now, the strong-will child maybe not next year, maybe it’s developmental.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Here in the room, we’ve all got identical twins which is actually highly unusual in the twin world. Is there any insignificant difference in the sense of individuality between fraternal twins whether they are opposite sex, same sex in identical twins?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I think there often is. I think it often comes to like you were saying: “How other people view them.” It might not happen so much in your own house but as soon as you bring them to preschool or to anyone else.
It’s obvious that for other people who are getting to know your child – that might be teachers or babysitters or whomever. The identical are very similar just by looking. You often have to work harder and get to know them better to really start to see how they’re unique from one another.
Whereas if you have a boy and a girl; well those features are already evident from first glance very often and even for same sex fraternals; it’s so much easier for others to begin to distinguish how they’re unique.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: It’s interesting. I have to admit: “As a parent of identical, I do tend to fall into that category and I really have to catch myself on having expectations that they were going to behave the same.” Logically, they are the same genetics where in they’re in the same household; so they should have the same behaviour. Then, when it’s different, where did that come from?
SUNNY GAULT: It’s funny though. I’m the exact opposite and I wonder if it’s because I have two singletons before I had twins. I expected twins be totally different. I’m amaze on how similar they are. They’re on the same schedule and the schedule will change, like when they wake up, when they want to eat and I just expect them to have different needs and wants. It’s changing at the same time. I’m kind of weirded out by it.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Actually, that speaks to your point earlier because truthfully, the trick with the identical is that: “Very often, they do want to do the same things. They both want to do soccer at the same time and they both want to do ballet. They both actually like the same friends and clique with the same people.”
You’re kind of saying as a parent: “Gosh. I really wish I could separate them. Darn it. They wanted to do the same things all the time.” They like playing each other so much because they’re drawn to often. They just genetically have that predisposition to just – so it’s going to be more challenging perhaps.
SHELLY STEELY: I think again, it’s a bigger challenge outside your home than inside your home. To be honest, my boys don’t look the same to me. At a glance, sure from far away but if I got both of them in front of me, there’s never any question. That doesn’t even like Sawyer looks like Sawyer and Greyson looks like Greyson. But I can’t articulate those differences to other people and the same with their different wants and needs.
When I try to explain to people how they are different, I get caught up because it’s really subtle. I know it because I mom and they know it because they’re them. But, other people get very frustrated because they can’t pick something to tell them apart or they can’t identify something that makes them different.
I mean even with dressing them. My husband thinks it’s adorable to dress them the same. Now, that they’re toddlers like to pick their own clothes and they like to dress the same. If one is wearing a Mickey shirt, the other one has to also wear the same Mickey shirt.
It’s not about: “Well, I’m willing to fight.” But then, I take them somewhere and everyone goes: “Well, how will we suppose to tell your children apart now if you’ve dressed them the same?” But I didn’t dress them. They dressed themselves.
SUNNY GAULT: You’re a horrible mother.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, Dr. Pontillo, you have mentioned about some of these external challenges. We’re talking about: “How it’s hard for other people to identify them and see the differences and really encourage them in a different way.” Compared to singleton, how is it different from internal? What are some of the challenges that maybe the twins are facing from an internal in their own self-perception?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: That’s a good question. I mean I think you know and of course, it depends on the family and again, things like gender can actually play a very significant role especially early on. But very often, kids are when they’re left first up with the baby sitters, they’re together. When they’re first get to visit grandma in another city they’re taking their first. A lot of their firsts are together.
So, sometimes it’s hard to develop their sort of sense of being able to cope with things independently as in a way that you would like just because a lot of their experiences are together. There are many positives to that too. But then often, I know we’ll going to talk about later when you do want to have them have their first independently. There can be just some differences in how they’re going to approach those tasks.
Some kids will run right into that and be excited about going to different preschool classrooms. Other kids might really just feel familiar and comfortable with just always having that other person to rely on for novel experiences. So, that’s I think one of the most common ones that I hear about.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I can definitely relate to that. I mean I know that my girls, they definitely prefer each other because it’s just that comfort level and I sense that: “It’s harder for them to make friends.” Recently, we write a little gathering and there was a girl the same age and she had actually came up and she said: “Hi. My name is Melinda. Would you like to play?”
I thought: “Well, that was so great. Her mother is obviously to kind of like socialize her to kind of reach out and do that.” My girls just haven’t learned to do that.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Right.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I get so embarrassed sometimes and see what the other kids; they really don’t know what to do.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Right because it’s kind of interesting because they have that built in playmate form very little and someone to rely on. So, that is a part of that growth as being able to figure out how to socialize and interact with novel peers as supposed to the built-in peer.
SHELLY STEELY: I definitely noticed the same thing. Its funny my playgroup if you will is all twin moms and that some of it is in my hospital. We have a group for women who delivered twins there and a woman in the neighbourhood. So, we build this play group. So, everybody has twins.
There was one another mom that we see often who also have an identical twins but the rest have fraternal. But, I don’t know if it’s because they all socialize more together because the moms stay-at-home and I’m working fulltime; or if it’s just my boys but they always wanted to sit together and by me.
I see all these other kids, all the same age interacting with each other and reaching out and playing with each other. My boys are over here and like: “Well, we’ve got this corner. Everything’s fine over here.” I know they’re little but it’s something I kind of worry about.
They play with their cousin who they see every single day. I mean if I take them into a new situation, they will be on my lap within 30 seconds. It will take a long time for them to separate from me and then from each other.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Right.
SHELLY STEELY: That’s definitely something I notice.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: What are some of the relational strategy that the parents can use in helping twins feel more unique and special?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Well, I think it’s the same strategy as you would use for siblings just all the more so. Really helping them come to understand what their personal interests are, what their personal approach to things are.
For example – in this recent example going to a playgroup maybe one child really does want to see what’s over there in the other side of the room. It’s kind of hovering behind because the other one is kind of more hesitant, more resistant to engage. So, there’s that obligation to the twin unit.
That sort of relationship that then it kind of hinders the development of maybe one child just wants to bound in; or perhaps on the reverse, you’ve got one child that’s very outgoing and the other one is kind of nervous and just has no choice to follow along but really would rather not.
So, it really requires a lot of observation on the part of the parent to sort of figure out: “Well, this one wants to approach and this one is more hesitant. Let me see if I can help foster that in some way so the relationship and the bond don’t hinder that personality development or those experiences that maybe need to be different at this point.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: That’s a great point. I think you’re so right that we really need to really watch and observe. I think so often and I know just look at my girls playing and then they’re might be around the kids.
But, I haven’t been really intent upon looking at maybe how they’re interacting with the other kids in their environment. So, I think that’s something I would really want to work on.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Yes, it’s hard because on the one hand, you really love the fact that they can be so wonderful together into each other and it’s a really special relationship. As a parent, I think you would want to foster that and have them be close. But on the other hand, sometimes there is that sort of inherent sense of obligation of nurturing for that twin partner that you have.
They are kids. They don’t really know how-to or when-to kind of let that go so that they can have their own needs, wants, desires and personal interests sort of fostered and fulfil.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Well, we’re going to take a break and when we come back, we’re going to talk about: “Some of the practical ways that you can spend time with the one twin.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Welcome back. Today, we’re talking with Deb Pontillo about: “How parents can help their twins develop independent identities.”
On a practical level, so how can we use parent spend time with one twin individually and especially if we got more than just the twins?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: This isn’t a challenge. I think for anyone who has more than one child and especially families where you may not be able to have help. We assume that maybe that there’s a partner or a nanny or someone and I think that-that is an assumption that maybe not be true for every family.
The ideal world, you do have a partner to help you divide up the kids and even if it’s only a 15-minute period have that one-on-one. Sometimes when I say 15 minutes, that might be all that it takes. I think we think: “Oh Gosh. I need to have a whole afternoon devoted to my one child.”
But actually, what kids tend to respond to is just having a fixed time that’s something that is within their control to do what they want in that time frame. That’s predictable every day or every week that happens without being threatened. So, for example even if you have four kids at home, these 15 minutes on this particular night is always that one child’s time no matter what.
So even if your partner or nanny or whomever can only take the others for 15 minutes – that child knows to have that something predictable and familiar. Those 15 minutes are with you exclusively and they can choose whatever they want to do. Surprisingly, as it turns out just to minimize any pressure to anyone has. 15 to 20 minutes is all that really takes for that child to sort of develop that sense of having time with mommy.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: That’s great.
SUNNY GAULT: Well, what they want to do too is often so simple. I love the idea of letting them choose because I think even toddlers can point to a puzzle or whatever and even if they can’t talk yet and tell you kind of what they want.
But, I’ve witnessed that: “Now with my kids yet but with my middle guy, my little guy that’s about to turn 2 just having 15 minutes. Like if the twins are down for their nap and my older son’s at day-care then I have a little bit of time and that goes such a long way.”
I just kind of say: “Okay, what do you want to do?” He’ll walk over and pull out a toy or whatever. It’s just eliminates so many temper tantrums later in the day. So, I’m assuming if it works with a singleton the same holds true for twins.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Absolutely and I think you know the part of clamouring from mommy-mommy-mommy that can happen a lot can be sort of constraint a little bit. If a child knows: “Well, this time is coming and I know when that time comes: “It’s got like a drug addict. I want more.”
But, if you know when it’s coming and you know it’s going to happen, you’re securing that. You know that when you do have that time; you have that control to tell mommy: “I don’t want to spend special time with you at the grocery store. I want to do X, Y or Z.” They can relax the rest of the day.
So, when you are busy doing your other things with your other kids, there’s that calm and security feeling about: “That time as for me and it will happen.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: That’s a good one.
SHELLY STEELY: So many times even some boys are not even six months – everyone says: “Well, you need to make that special time.” But they always say: “Take just one with you to Target or go out on a special day with one of them.” I work an opposite schedule for my husband because that’s how we fit our child care needs.
They say: “On a Saturday morning, just take one to the grocery store.” Then I’m like: “What do I do with the other one?” I’ll leave him home alone, he’s a little young for that.
So, it kind of takes some of the pressure off to know I just have to spend a little bit of time because it’s not just reasonable for us to spend that time when a few hours we’re all home together, we do family stuff.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Yes, I think it’s important to actually label the time. Call it: “Special mommy time” so that they know it has a definitive beginning and an end. As they get older and a little bit more verbal, you can talk with them but you can tell them one special time is coming and when it starts and when it ends. That security can really go along way.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I was thinking: “It might be interesting to see if and allowing them to choose their activities; that help us as parents identify what their interests are.” Sort of help us say: “Okay, my Twin A really likes to do puzzles and my Twin B likes to do more colouring and then we can kind of encourage that as well.”
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: That’s a really good point, absolutely.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Now, in terms of school age kids and do you have any recommendations as far as keeping them together or do you separate them? What age? What stage?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I think you know that every family is different. Every situation is different but on the whole, in general once a child is approaching kindergarten age; it is really important because we really want to develop cooperative play and social skills.
Usually at the 3 to 4 year level and so, by Pre K to K, we really want to make sure that kids are not reliant on other twin – that they aren’t going to be kind of walking around the place, the playground as a unit and not developing: “How do I initiate with somebody? How do I reciprocate with somebody? How do I join a group when I’m by myself?”
How do I handle conflicts and just problem, social problem solving without my partner here with me? So, I think you know a lot of that: “It can still happen if the child is in the same classroom. It just becomes a lot more challenging for the teacher to maintain that individuality. So, often times if there is a choice, they do tend to separate in kindergarten or first grade.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I know, we decided: “My girls are in preschool now. They’re second year of preschool and we’re hoping they’ll go to kindergarten in the fall.” Our kind of thought was: “Kindergarten is a big transition.”
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Yes.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, we thought: “Well, we’d like to try separating before they make that big transition so it’s not all at once.”
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Right.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, this year, we put them in a two separate classes and they’ve done fairly well. We have had some instances where: “No. I don’t want to go to school. No, I don’t want it.” I think it really is part of the separation anxiety. But, it’s been more the exception than the norm.
The classes, they have different assignments and just different interactions. I think it’s been really great for them in that regard. I realize: “Some kids just won’t flourish being apart.” I know a lot of people make these very just universal recommendations.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: You can’t.
SHELLY STEELY: I think being a teacher, my struggle from a like in an educator’s stand point is: “When you put your children under different classes, they’re having different educational experiences.” How would I deal with that as a parent if I thought like: “One’s needs are being better met than the other, through instruction or just through classroom environment? Who knows where public schools will be?”
But when I was younger, students were separated you know. So, we had one kid that was for kids who are gifted and talented and one class that was for kids who are main stream. Then high school, they are still separated. So, I think if they have similar ability levels then they’re going to have to kind of be in the same class. So, it’s kind of a struggle too.
I mean the parent in me thinks: “If I put them both in the same class, their teacher will never treat them separately.” But then, the educator in me thinks: “Gosh. Two different educational experiences, what if I’m not happy with one of them and how can I – that kind of control?”
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: In the situation that you were describing, correct me if I’m wrong. But, you’re talking about: “Two different kind of curriculum, one is a gifted talented; one is just for the”
SHELLY STEELY: Just one classroom by luck of the draw has a lot more boisterous behaviour and it’s harder for them. I know as a children looking at my classes; two identical classes, identical curriculum. One of them is really hard to manage and the other one is just a breeze.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Just a personality mix.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Yes.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Yes.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: But, the good thing about that is: “Obviously, you’d love to be able to pick the ideal classroom for your child.” But, even if you have just one child, they may be thrown into a classroom where it’s just a mix of boisterous kids. You know what I mean? You’re thinking of yourself: “Gosh. I wish they had that other teacher that was the nurturing one.”
In the same time, unless of course it’s a real disaster and you have to go to the school and discuss that. If it’s just kind of the sort of variants that you get from one-year-to-the-next and class to the next – in some situations, having those different experiences and managing them can be actually beneficial.
So, even if one -- kind of gosh, you just have the easy classes here and you’ve got a tough one. That’s kind of okay as long as it’s not really good being derailed at their educational experience. Just in the sense that: “They now have to cope with a different environment. Next year, obviously in most cases one with think in an average school district that might look different.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, about within the school? Can touch on having teachers trying to treat them as individuals especially if they were in the same class, what can parents do in helping teachers and family members – and just a lot of the people that the twins come and contact, how can we help them understand and see the differences and treat them as individuals?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: That’s a really great question because you probably, we were talking about this earlier. Talking all the time about: “The tendency of people to either characterize or the twins either just by a given behaviour.”
I think so as a parent of twins, your role is: “Just to delicately explain to families what you’ve observed. Yes, this one’s yelling now but they’re not the strong one. I know you really want to engage with my kids and thanks for having them. I want to point out to you some of their differences. I know they look very much the same but I want to explain to you just how they are unique.”
Obviously, it’s about talking. I don’t think people are [inaudible] when they treat your kids as a set. But, on first glance like you were saying: “It’s either based on the parents or it’s just such a novelty. It’s cute and we like to group kids together because they are cute and sweet as a unit. It’s so unique. It really is.”
That it just a very honest parent to understand that others are most often well-meaning and just communicate to them: “I’ve just noticed that this one my daughter and it’s really more like this and enjoys these other things. This other daughter tends to enjoy X, Y or Z.”
SHELLY STEELY: From my practical stand point, now I’m thinking when the boys were brand new; we always dress Greyson in green and Sawyer in blue. Even now, still we put Greyson would usually be in green or gray and Sawyer will be in blue or red, whatever colour just so that people can automatically see. But like I’ve said, they have preferences now.
I’m not going to be that mom forcing them to dress in only just one colour because that’s not fair to them. But then, I’m thinking with girls: “I could get them like a bracelet or make sure that they have their different hair bow or something like that.” With boys, I’m just wondering: “Maybe I’ll get them one of those woven lanyard bracelets that are a little more boyish or something.”
I’m thinking: “If we just have one thing so people could automatically tell just to make it easier for conversations.” Because I know as a teacher, I’ve thought identical twins and for me, it’s much easier when they have a different hair style or a different appearance so that I can tell it from across the yard or down the hall which one I’m talking to.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Yes, that’s a good point.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: It is I think especially for the younger ones too to help other people have those visual cues who’s who. I’ll just say it. Even my own family, my parents used to get them mixed up all the time. My dad would feel kind of silly and say: “Who’s that?” I think there were a lot of times where they didn’t want to express that they didn’t know. They really embarrassed.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Right.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, it’s really okay. We understand. Now, my girls are bigger so they say: “No, I’m Julia.” They’ll just tell them to their face if they get a mixed up.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Right.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: No. That’s her. But, I think when they’re little; I think that does help to just have some sort of difference in there.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I can even say: “My daughter when she was in preschool went to school with some triplets and it was a boy and two identical girls.” Of course she’s a girl, so she would want to play with the girls.
But, it was kind of intimidating for her because she didn’t know who she was talking too or who she was going up too. It was kind of more like: “Hey you.” So, for the little kids too – four, five
SHELLY STEELY: Are tattoos appropriate?
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Well, we’re going to wrap this part of that. So, I’m going to say: “Thanks so much for everyone for joining us today,” For more information about: “Encouraging individuality with twins” or for more information about any of our speakers and panellists – visit our episode page on our website. This conversation continues for members of our Twin Talks Club.
After the show, our panellists will talk about: “How parents can celebrate each twin on birthdays.” So, for more information about the Twin Talks Club, visit our website – www.TwinTalks.com .
SUNNY GAULT: We have a question from one of our listeners. This comes from Rebecca of Rhode Island and she writes:
Our twins are due within the next month. My husband and I have been trying to save money as much as possible to prepare for their arrival. But, we’re still concerned that we’re going to run out of money quickly once they arrived. We’re caring for them on a daily basis.
Rebecca, I know exactly what you’re talking about because my husband and I are going through the same thing.
Do you have any tips on saving money with twins especially within those first couple of years?
NATALIE DIAZ: Well, hey Rebecca. This is Natalie Diaz with Twiniversity, Multiplicity Magazine and the author of What to Do When You’re Having Two? First of all, a huge congratulations on your upcoming bundles of joy. Yes, you are going to be broke. You are going to be very broke.
No, I’m only kidding. But, you want some really scary statistics? Do you know that raising twins for the first 18 years is going to cost you a little over $ 400,000? But, the good news is: “We don’t have to spend it all at once.” I’m sure if we start extreme couponing, we could save a few bucks here and there.
So, some of the big tips that I’m going to give you for saving money is: “You need to go to the big buck store.” So, The Sam’s Club, The Costco, The BJ’s – all of those and you may want to consider even upgrading to the executive membership. Sometimes there are executive memberships that give you cash back at the end of the year. Definitely do that because you know what?
Even if it’s a few dollars to get yourself a manicure or a cup of coffee – it is a few dollars and every penny counts. The next thing that you want to do is: “You really want to think about how you’re spending your money and what you’re spending your money on.” I think it’s a great idea to sit down even before your 20’s get here and figure out what a realistic budget is going to be.
Are you going to be hiring help? If you’re hiring help, how much help do you need? How much do you pay per hour? Instead of just saying: “Oh my gosh. We need somebody. Get them here and get them here fast and we’ll pay whatever we have to pay.” I want you to really think about: “How much could we afford?”
So, little things like that are going to add up really, really fast. It’s not a bad idea to start paying cash for things. It’s nice to have those miles add up. But, if you know that your weekly budget is in this envelope, you’re not going to go over it. So, you really want to start paying attention to how you’re spending your money and start spending it a little bit more wisely perhaps.
Skip that mocha skimmed no whip – that’s my favourite drink by the way. If you want to buy me a drink that’s just the one I want. Thanks. You may want to start paying attention to that and start putting some money away and start thinking about saving for those weddings that are coming up in your future.
But, I really don’t think that you’re going to go broke. Just be careful. Spend your money wisely and I wish you and your family the very best of luck.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Twin Talks.
Don’t forget to check our sister shows:
• Preggie Pals, it’s for expecting parents and
• Our show The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed their babies and
• Parent Savers your parenting resource on-the-go.
This is Twin Talks, parenting times two.
This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
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