How do you make sure an older child isn't left out when you have twins?
If one new baby in the house is hard for an older brother or sister to deal with, imagine the shock when two arrive at once! Both parents will suddenly be frantically caught up with two demanding babies, and everywhere the family goes, people will point and coo at “the twins.”
“You have to make sure that you always introduce the older child,” says Debbie Ross from TAMBA, the Twins and Multiple Births Association. “It’s really important to make the effort so they don’t get left out. It’s something you always need to be aware of.”
1. Include big brother too
Always try and include big brother (or sister) whenever you can. It’s vital that they don’t feel replaced by the new babies, so perhaps they can help you fetch nappies or wipes, sing to their new siblings or tell them stories.
When other people insist on cooing over the twins, don’t forget your older child. Tell them what he has done at school or nursery recently, or what a lovely picture he drew you that morning.
2. Don’t stint on the praise
Make sure big brother feels valued, as an older sibling and as a person in his own right. “I remember praising Oliver a lot when his brothers were born,” says Lindsey Gray, editor of twinsclub.co.uk. “I told him what a clever big brother he was, and he became extremely proud. That was a very good thing.”
3. Be prepared
If people come to visit the babies, and you think that they’re going to be bringing presents, ask if they can please bring something small for your older child too. If they don’t, then perhaps you could have something on hand, ready to whip out if necessary. It needn’t be expensive.
4. Work on relationships between the children
If possible (perhaps if a parent/grandparent looks after one twin on his own for a while) let the older sibling and the other twin spend some time together. That way they all feel like part of a team.
5. Don’t think it all stops as the children grow older
When her sons, Alex and Toby, were babies, Lindsey Gray says she made sure she gave their big brother a lot of attention. That tailed off as the babies grew, but Lindsey’s noticed that now the boys are 10 and 8, she's having to be aware of it again. “The two boys are completely a unit and I can’t split them,” says Lindsey. “Sometimes Oliver does feel ignored, and if I don’t address that, he could try and disrupt their games. Even I feel left out sometimes, so I understand it!”