Psychology of twins relationships has proven that twins share a unique bond emotionally and physically. When twins have to separate due to various reasons, they may experience excessive anxiety, depression, and separation syndrome. Not all twins experience separation anxiety, but maternal and fraternal twins are at greater risk.
Twin separation anxiety can also be viewed as separation between a parent and a twin. However, this article will focus more on the context of the separation of twins.
Nancy Segal, in her book, Indivisible by Two, believes that “it is an adjustment for any child to leave the security of their homes, parents, and familiar surroundings; cutting them off from their twin can only add to their anxiety.”
- Twins, especially identical ones, share an intimate bond that can lead to twin separation anxiety when they have to be apart.
- Separation anxiety can impair twins’ social life, skills, and confidence.
- Parents play a crucial role in managing separation anxiety in their children by introducing the concept of identity, enrolling them in different classes, and dressing them in different clothes to suit their preferences.
- Recognizing the signs of twin separation anxiety early can help parents take action to ensure a smoother transition for their twins as they grow older.
Why is it difficult for twins to separate?
Twins share a bond from the moment they were conceived. They grow up side by side, share experiences, understand each other, and form a unique language that only they can understand. Their bond is unbreakable, and if broken, anxiety and depression may ensue. Twins who have separated at one point in their life have admitted to suffering long periods of loneliness even when they were around other people. No one could understand them as much as their twin could.
Children growing up in a home with a lot of parental stress and conflict will develop a twin interdependence. The relationship can be so intense that one twin cannot function without the other. Separation at this point can become a daunting task for the children and one which they rebel against.
Reasons why twins separate
Like any other relationship, twins may be thrust into situations which may result in separation, whether wanted or unwanted. Separation may arise from conflict, differing preferences in friends, skills, and education preferences. Understanding how to handle these situations can help parents better support their twins’ emotional wellbeing. For example, parents should take keen interest in their children as they grow to ensure that twin issues resulting in conflict are solved before they evolve into something precarious.
As the twins get older, they may discover that they have different preferences in their circle of friends, further putting a crack in their relationship. Their skills and education preferences differ, and they are forced to take different classes, further putting distance between them and increasing the chances of separation anxiety.
How to recognize Twin separation anxiety in your child
Recognizing twin separation anxiety can be challenging. However, there are some signs and symptoms parents can watch for:
- Excessive worrying about the other twin unreasonably
- Insistence on doing a task only when the other twin is around and throwing tantrums when this demand is not met
- Tailing a twin or parent everywhere, clutching hands and tagging on their clothes
- Panic attacks and mental breakdowns
- Other symptoms of anxiety disorder
Separation anxiety can impair the social life, skills, and confidence of affected children.
Parents are advised to be keen with their twins and manage anxiety when the signs start showing. Twin separation anxiety can be prevented when recognized from a young age, ensuring a smoother transition for the twins in their older years.
Role of parents in managing separation anxiety in their children
- Introduce the concept of identity: Parents should gradually introduce the concept of identity to the twins as they grow older. Due to the public stereotype regarding twins, children with the same DNA may face an identity crisis. Fraternal twins have it easier when developing identities, as they do not have complete DNA resemblance. Identical twins, on the other hand, will struggle more on their quest to develop their identity in the heat of all the stereotypes surrounding them. Developing an identity as a twin can be hard, especially without the support of parents and people close to them.
- Enroll twins in different classes: This will not only help them outgrow any dependency behavior they might have picked but also ensure there are no future instances of Twin Separation Syndrome. When children learn to function without the other, they will learn to better cope with the anxiety arising from separation. There have been reported cases by parents and daycare managers of twins facing comparison based on their abilities, which has resulted in fierce competition and one twin trying to outdo the other. Parents should consider whether to keep their twins in the same class or not.
- Dress twins in different clothes: Dressing the twins in clothes of different colors and styles
to suit their preferences is one way parents can support the growth of their children’s identities. This understanding that they are different individuals with separate personalities and nurturing them in that manner will lessen the impact of separation anxiety and depression. As early as when children start to become aware of their roles and existence, encourage them to pursue a journey on self-discovery to forge their identity. Making your twins’ closet fun and functional can contribute to their sense of individuality.
Dr. Barbara Klein, having 35 plus years’ experience researching patterns of twinships – and a twin herself – states that twin separation anxiety will diminish with age and experience but can never be completely taken out of their lives. There will always be that longing and loneliness whenever twins are away from each other. However, with the proper support and guidance from parents, twins can learn to cope with separation anxiety and develop their individual identities. This will help them adapt better to various life situations, foster their personal growth, and ultimately lead to a more fulfilling life. Surviving the challenges of raising twin toddlers and managing preschooler behavior in twins are essential steps in nurturing their development.
For more information on various aspects of raising twins, visit Multiples Heaven, where you can find a wealth of resources and advice on topics such as feeding your twins at night, tandem nursing for twins, and shopping for twins.
|Parenting School-Age Twins and Multiples by Christina Tinglof
|Provides expert guidance and advice
|May not cover all aspects of twin escalation syndrome
|This book has been a lifesaver! It’s full of helpful tips that have made managing my twins so much easier.
|Addresses unique challenges of raising twins and multiples
|Some information may be outdated
|Includes practical tips and solutions
|Magnetic Reward Behavior Star Chore Chart for One or Multiple Kids
|Encourages positive behavior
|Some children may not respond well
|This chart has been a game changer for our family. My kids love earning stars and it has helped improve their behavior.
|Provides a visual representation of progress
|Requires consistent monitoring and updating by parents
|Can be customized for each child’s needs
|Amonev Behaviour Reward Charts for Boys and Girls Toddlers
|Fun and engaging design
|May not be suitable for older children
|These reward charts have really helped my twins stay on track with their chores and good behavior. Highly recommend!
|Encourages positive behavior
|Requires ongoing parental involvement
|Can be used for multiple children
|TIME TIMER 8 inch Visual Timer
|Provides a clear, consistent time-out duration
|Time-outs may not be effective for all children
|This timer has been a helpful tool for enforcing time-outs and establishing boundaries with my twins.
|Easy to use and understand
|May not address underlying causes of twin escalation syndrome
|Can help manage aggressive behavior
|The Original Mood Flipbook for Kids
|Enhances emotional understanding
|May require time and effort from parents
|The mood flipbook has helped my twins communicate their emotions more effectively, leading to fewer conflicts.
|Encourages healthy emotional expression
|Effectiveness depends on the child’s interest and participation
|Fun and engaging for children
|Melissa & Doug Deluxe Combo Scratch Art Set
|Promotes independence and individual interests
|May not appeal to all children
|My twins love this scratch art set, and it gives them an opportunity to explore their creativity separately.
|Provides a break from constant interaction
|May require parental supervision for appropriate play
|Can help reduce competition between twins
|Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too
|Provides expert advice and strategies
|May require a commitment of time and effort from the entire family
|This book has helped our family better understand and manage sibling rivalry, improving our overall family dynamic.
|Encourages family communication and understanding
|Effectiveness depends on the family’s willingness to engage in counseling techniques
|Can help address underlying issues causing twin escalation syndrome
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do you deal with twin escalation syndrome?
To manage twin escalation syndrome, follow these steps:
- Encourage individual interests and activities
- Set clear boundaries and expectations for behavior
- Create a routine for each twin
- Reward positive behavior
- Offer support and guidance during conflicts
- Teach conflict resolution skills
2. What is twin escalation syndrome in toddlers?
Twin escalation syndrome is a phenomenon in which one twin’s behavior triggers a reaction from the other twin, causing their behavior to escalate. This can lead to increased rivalry, aggression, and competition between the twins.
3. What is twin escalation?
Twin escalation refers to the dynamic where one twin’s behavior prompts a reaction from the other, resulting in a cycle of escalating behaviors and emotions between the two.
4. Why is one twin aggressive towards the other?
Aggression between twins can result from factors such as competition for attention, resources, or parental affection, differences in temperament, or a reaction to stress in the family environment.
5. How do you calm a crying twin?
To calm a crying twin:
- Offer comfort and reassurance
- Check for basic needs (hunger, diaper change, etc.)
- Provide a soothing environment (dim lights, white noise, etc.)
- Use soothing techniques (rocking, swaddling, etc.)
- Encourage the other twin to offer comfort, if appropriate
6. How long to let twins cry it out?
The appropriate duration for letting twins cry it out depends on their age, temperament, and individual needs. Consult with a pediatrician or sleep consultant for guidance tailored to your twins’ specific situation.
7. Are twins more difficult to raise?
Raising twins can be more challenging due to the increased demands on time, energy, and resources. However, with proper planning, organization, and support, parents can successfully raise twins while enjoying the unique joys of twin parenting.
8. What is a toxic twin?
A toxic twin refers to a twin sibling who engages in negative or harmful behavior that affects the other twin’s well-being, often stemming from jealousy, competition, or unresolved emotional issues.
9. Why do my twins cry so much?
Twins may cry more due to various factors, such as hunger, tiredness, discomfort, or overstimulation. In some cases, twins may cry more because they are mirroring each other’s emotions or seeking attention.
10. When should twins sleep in their own room?
The decision to move twins to their own room depends on factors such as the family’s preferences, the twins’ developmental readiness, and the availability of space. In general, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants share a room with their parents for at least the first six months, preferably up to one year, to reduce the risk of SIDS.