MY TWINS DON’T HAVE TO SHARE IT ALL!
I’ve often said that in many ways, raising twins can be very similar to raising one child at a time, but many times I see situations arise where it becomes oh so different. Last night as I overheard my twins fighting over a toy in the playroom, it dawned on me that this whole sharing thing is VERY different when it comes to twins. When you have children of different ages, the toys definitely belong to one child or the other, without any room for disagreement. Some toys are just not age appropriate for the younger child, and as a safety precaution you ask the older child to keep it away from them. This toy automatically becomes the sole property of the older sibling, so no argument, right?
This is a whole different story when you have multiples. The age difference is not an excuse, and more than likely they will want to play with the same things – regardless of their gender. So what do you do? Let me tell you what has worked for me and my family and maybe it will have you seeing things differently. I’m no expert, but I do have over 20 years of parenting experience under my belt. Although the majority of that experience has been with singletons, I quickly learned that some of my methods simply would not work with multiples.
My twins shared the womb from day one. They shared a crib, clothing, family members’ laps and even a spoon as babies, but they don’t share everything now. They shouldn’t have to. Just because you were born with someone else does not mean that it’s a free for all in the social arena. So how did I make this happen? How did I define what did and did not have to be shared? Simple. I set boundaries.
In my home we have a playroom. The children know that everything that is in the playroom has to be shared. If there is something that they don’t wish to share, this item must be stored in their room from day one. If they decide later that they don’t mind sharing the item, they can choose to take it down to the playroom. If you’re wondering if this system gets complicated – it doesn’t. The girls know that all their playdates and neighborhood friends play in the playroom when they come over. Only a select few of those friends actually play in their bedroom. If a friend wants to play with a toy that is a non-sharable item, I simply take the item and explain to the child that this is (X)’s special toy. I usually follow up by explaining that they share most things, but others are just special. To the point and effective. If you don’t have a playroom and they share a room, give them their own storage containers. Explain to them that this is for their special things. Things that they can choose to share-or not. Either way, it is their box and no one will be mad if they don’t share those items. If their twin wants to play with something that is in that box they must ask first; and if the answer is “no,” then so be it. It’s their special stash over which they have sole ownership; and their decision to share the item must be respected.
Everyone should have their own special things, and twins should not be the exception. They should know that they can have their own individual items, and that they have the right to keep those items from others. Am I raising selfish children? I highly doubt it. The majority of the toys are in the playroom and they share those items very well. I think that this method not only teaches them about having boundaries but it also teaches them respect for other people’s property. I’ve also noticed that they are learning what it takes to get the other to share the special things they may be a bit jealous of. I say, if it helps them treat each other a little nicer, then all the better! Do they fight for toys sometimes? Absolutely – and guess what? That’s fine. That just means they’re normal.
What are your thoughts? Do your twins have to share everything?