We have triplets. How do I encourage their individuality?
Just by virtue of their uniqueness, your multiples are going to get a lot of public attention. Unfortunately, many people will view them as a "set" and refer to them as "the Jones triplets" or "the Smith twins" rather than by their first names. But most experts agree that multiples need to be encouraged to see themselves as individuals. Here are some tips:
- Think twice (or three times!) about dressing them alike. When your children are old enough to express a preference for what they wear, allow them to pick out their own outfits. Although they may look adorable in matching outfits, it's important that they be allowed to have their own style.
- Call them by their first names. (If you're pregnant, consider selecting non-sound-alike names.) Try not to refer to them as "the triplets."
- Encourage them to develop their own interests. Don't make them agree on one extracurricular activity if they have different preferences. Let one take art, while the others take gymnastics, if that best matches their abilities and/or interests.
- Do things with your children individually. Perhaps they can alternate having a special day with a favorite relative, like Grandma. Some parents allow each child to have his or her own day of the week during which the "star of the day" can select the dinner menu, have first choice of TV shows and so on. This helps to cut down on rivalry and favoritism.
- Encourage separate friendships. Allow your children to have individual play dates or sleepovers. Talk to them about the possibility that not all three of them may be invited to birthday parties. Multiples spend so much time together that they sometimes fail to seek friendships outside the home. Suggest that they have friends over, and enlist their teachers' help in encouraging them to make friends. At their own birthday parties, make three separate cakes, sing "Happy Birthday" to each child individually and give unique gifts. (Group gifts are okay if it's something big, like an outdoor play set.)
- Never allow others to compare your children. Resist labeling them, such as "the smart one," "the athlete" or "the artistic one." Yes, you want to recognize their own unique talents but not in comparison to each other.
- Praise them independently. Instead of saying, "You are all playing so well together," say, "Lindsay, I like how you're sharing your dolls," and "Jared, thank you for picking up your crayons so quickly." Let them bask in praise for their individual efforts.
All children are special, whether they're twins, triplets or singletons, so be sure your children's own personalities are allowed to shine! Also consider joining organizations such as The Triplet Connection or Mothers of Supertwins. They have great positive-parenting resources and advice for raising three or more!
Talk about parenting multiples with other parents who are doing it, too!