Teenage Twins

How can I help my teenagers through their teenage years?
You can do this by being there as a guide for them, not to judge or criticize them or to tell them what they need to do for every step of the way, but to be there as a point of reference should they need you to help them. Avoid using the ‘you mustn’t do that’ approach, as it never stops them from doing *whatever* it simply makes them not talk to you about it. If you can talk to them about things you can help them make sensible choices.

Talk to them about situations that might be happening to other people in their lives (like their classmate who is already doing *whatever*) If they can have a conversation with you about what might happen if that person continues with that particular behaviour, it is giving them the skills needed to navigate their way through their own lives, but in a non-judgemental way.
Setting clear boundaries is also key, they need to know what is and isn’t acceptable, and what behaviour you expect. If you ask them to be in for a certain time and they are late (without a good reason) then a consequence is needed. This could be ‘grounding’ them, i.e. not allowing them out or removal of privileges such as using their Xbox, PS3, computer, mobile (cell) phone etc.
They also need to know how to do things for themselves, such as how to operate the washing machine, tumble drier and iron, how to cook, how to store food correctly, budgeting, cleaning etc.
It also helps if you can provide them with regular, healthy meals, and a quiet place to study.
If at all possible give them separate rooms, so that they can study in peace, or equally play their music, games or musical instrument without directly disturbing their twin.
Help them organize their time so that they have time to study and complete homework to a suitable standard, as well as see friends, take part in sport, and find time to relax. They also need to take responsibility for organizing their school books, doing homework on time, having the correct kit for P.E., taking their musical instruments to school on the right day and practising them between lessons, and having their Food Technology ingredients on the correct day.
Understand that they not only need to learn to be separate from their parents, they also need to learn to be separate from their twin. Unless they are going to get places at the same University to study the same subject (which does happen!) or get jobs in the same company on the same floor (which also does happen!)  they are going to need to know who they are and what they want to do in life. For some twins this can be a real problem! They can be so used to doing whatever it is that their twin wants to do that they can’t be separate without feeling very lost or lonely. Some twins have put what they needed or wanted to do to one side just so that they can have the comfort of having their twin there for them. It is important that each twin reaches out for what they most value in life.
They may wish to experiment with new styles of dressing/ hairstyles which is very normal.
It is also very possible that they might not develop physically at the same rate. The slower one will catch up in good time, but it is vital to quash any teasing from either twin about their rate of development.

Should you keep teenage twins in the same class in high school?
The high school system tends to work so that the year group is divided into forms (some do this by ability and others do it by interests and who is likely to get on with who to create a community feel). Some schools use forms for pastoral care purposes only, and are not based on ability. In this instance you would have an opportunity to say to the school whether or not you want them putting in the same form. It can be nice particularly in Year 7 (first year) for twins to be together in form time, and then to be put in sets which meet their academic needs for the rest of the day. Once they have acclimatized to school life and reach year 8 they may feel comfortable to be in separate forms.
However if you or your twins feel strongly about being in separate classes from the start that is absolutely fine, just let the school know and see what they can do to accommodate this.
If your twins are well matched academically (both working at a similar level and neither being particularly brighter than the other) you may have the choice whether or not you keep your twins in the same classes for subjects. If they are not very well matched (one being distinctly more academic ‘brainier’ than the other) you will probably find that the school insists on separating them, and this is fine. They need to work at their own individual level.
At the end of the day you need to do whatever it is that feels right for you and your family.

Filling in Application forms for Twin School Admissions.
There should be a section on the application form to state any reasons you want your children to go to that particular school, it is worth mentioning in this section that you have twins (stating the other twins full name) and you want them in the same school (unless you would prefer they were separate) If you have sent your twins to school outside your normal school catchment area because you want your twins in separate classes it would be worth mentioning here too.
If you don’t get your twins into the school you prefer or only one gets into your first choice you have the right to appeal. State clearly your reasons for choosing the school and reiterate that you need both twins in the same school for logistical reasons (unless the two schools are next door to each other and dropping off and picking up are not going to cause too many problems.)
Should I send my teenage twins to separate SCHOOLS?
It is not unheard of for twins to go to separate high schools! Some do and absolutely love it. It is better to get two schools that suit the two individual twins needs, than to try to put one twin in a school that really doesn’t suit his/her personality at all!

What happens if one twin can go to Grammar school and the other one can’t?
Whilst traditional Grammar schools are now less common, there are still some in existence. These are where your child takes an entrance exam called the 11+. Only those who pass the exam will be offered a place. This can lead to a difficult situation if both take it, and only one passes or only one is academic enough to take the exam in the first place. What do you do? This really depends on your individual twins. It may be that they are happy to go to separate schools, or it may lead them to be very unhappy at the thought of being split up. The more academic one might feel happy that he/she is bright enough to get in, leaving the other one to feel deflated and unhappy.  At the end of the day you need to find a workable solution that is fair to everyone. This in itself is easier said than done. A compromise might be to get them both into a different (but equally good) school that accepts all academic levels. Or you might decide that the one that has got into Grammar should go, and the other one make the most of being at a different school.

Horrible hormones, homework, peer group pressure, of COURSE they’re going to be grumpy!
Teenage twins have several things to deal with, not only are their bodies starting to change and develop as they hit puberty, they also have extra homework and school responsibilities to handle, along with peer group pressure to try all kinds of new things (some of which you would prefer it if they didn’t try!) and hormones running riot. You will want them to keep their bedrooms at a reasonable standard of hygiene. You will find that they are naturally wanting to go to bed later on and sleep for longer in the mornings. This is because the teenage body clock is set differently to adults and children’s. There is no wonder that teenagers spend most of the time feeling grumpy.

Helping your twins go their own way in life

There are lots of opportunities for twins to make decisions about their futures during their teenage years. We need to guide them into making the right choices for them as individuals. It can be hard for each twin to decide what they (as individuals) want.
The first big decision they will have to make is what subjects to take for G.C.S.E (in the UK at least). Each twin needs to take subjects that interest them and that they are good at. This may or may not be the same subjects as their twin. They will do best at the subjects that grip them. Try to encourage them to follow their own preferences, not do the same subjects as their twin so that they can stay together.

University places and job applications can be the next big choice to be made. Again, encourage each of them to go in search of the job or course that inspires them rather than making a compromise to be with their twin.

Over their teenage years encourage them to develop their own individual style, and have their own friends. It is also ok for them to politely decline invites if they don’t want to go. This could be to parties, to a mutual friends house etc. It is ok for just one twin to go somewhere. In fact if they are confident to negotiate situations on their own this is a good thing as one day they are going to have to do this themselves without the support  of their twin. No matter how close your twins are it is a vital life skill for them to be able to do things on their own. It will seem strange for them at first when they go somewhere on their own but they will soon grow more used to it.

What happens when one twin develops physically sooner than the other?
This can happen! The best solution would be to reassure the twin who is not developing so quickly that it will be their turn soon. Also tell the other twin not to be unkind or tease them.  It can be hard for twin especially when one twin girl starts her period before her twin. They are not necessarily going to start at the same time. Make sure both twin daughters are prepared for their period starting by having sanitary towels in their school bag at all times.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about raising teenage twins please email sarah@twinsonline.org.uk or ask a question on the Facebook Page www.facebook.com/twinsonline if you prefer your question to be anonymous please send an Inbox on Facebook and request that your question is reposted anonymously.

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One Comments

  • cherys

    December 11, 2014

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been looking for some practical advice on raising teenage w=twins and this is the best I’ve found online. I would really welcome some advice about how to raise confidence in the less confident twin. I have non-ID boys. They are both bright and capable – they both got into a good grammar school. But one is top of the class in all subjects, picked for the rugby team, excelling in ALL his social activities outside school and one…isn’t. I can’t bear to see my lovely, bright boy lose confidence as he watches his brother overtake him in absolutely everything (taller, slimmer, fewer spots – everywhere he turns it appears that his brother is ‘better.’)
    I know it’s just a phase and that things will even out over the course of a lifetime but right now it’s so hard for him. he’s so low in self confidence and seems to have lost his appetite for even trying at something as his brother steps in and takes over. (E.g. my shy boy was the ‘arty’ one – not that I like labels, then they both submitted some art to a competition and his brother won the prize.)
    What can I do to help boost his confidence – really boost it? I tell him how lovely he is but he thinks I just say that because I’m his mum. I’d especially love to know where I could maybe get advice from twins who have been in that situation, especially the less confident twin, and how they overcame it.


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