Being Treated the same is NOT Equal: Learning to Individualize my Children

NEWS FLASH!!! My children are not twins. I repeat my children are NOT twins!! However my children are twelve months apart and it is so incredibly difficult to remember that they are in such incredible different stages of life. Recently my Viv (4.5) was upset that I wasn’t doing the same things with her as I was doing with her sister. Noli (3.5) is also insistent that she MUST do and like everything that her sister does. When my girls make these comments it gives me pause… have I somehow prioritized my time with one child over another? Am I treating them too different? Am I treating them too much alike? Am I honoring their personality differences? I think every parent who has multiple children, especially multiples, would agree we all seem to have these questions looming in our heads on a daily basis. Here are my conclusions on these thoughts.

{Picture taken by Nicole Myhre: School pictures of my girls are the best}

Honoring Individuality – My girls really couldn’t be more opposite – I mean, one has almost black eyes and the other has the lightest of blues!! Viv is type A, driven and cautious. Noli is silly, sassy, and beats to her own drum. They are NOT the same person. Even if they had been twins, they are in fact individuals. Noli loves to be tickled and teased. Viv gets very upset if she is teased and really isn’t a fan of tickling. Viv prefers direction to learn new hobbies. Noli wants to try it on her own first!

I say all of this because it is SO important that I remember to keep my expectation of each child independent. I can simply ask Viv to clean up all the Legos and she will. Noli needs to clean an area because she will get ‘lost’ if she has to clean just one type of toy (like her father but that’s another story). I try each day to do things with each child that they love and is specific to them! For Viv it’s talking, reading, and learning. For Noli its being silly, playing dress up and telling stories. Each may seem similar but is carried out in different ways.

{Photo taken by Lynn Coppotelli and Me: Pictures of how my girls dressed to go fishing}

Since I have started to honor their individual traits their behavior has significantly improved. They are also less jealous of each other when they do see their sister getting some special Mommy time! It has also made my role as Mom more fun because I get to share these special moments with each girl differently.

Developmental Differences – As a preschool teacher, I definitely understand developmental differences. They seriously change so much within each year and from year to year as they grow through these early stages of life. However, with my girls so close in age I find myself treating them as if they can do the same tasks – which is simply just NOT the case.


{Picture taken by Drew Carlisle: The girls with their Cinderella pumpkins}

I had to recognize that Viv and Noli can do different tasks at different times. When I make a request and they don’t/won’t complete it – instead of getting upset I have to ask myself if this was a reasonable request. For instance, it is not reasonable to ask a 3 year old to sit in silence for 5 minutes – but I can expect that of my 4 year old. I also had to recognize that my children have different skill sets as well. So it is important for me to recognize that when I am asking anything of my children.

Since I have recognized the importance of their skill set and developmental stage, the girls and I are less frustrated with each other. It is such an easy concept, but being able to meet reasonable expectations is rewarding. Being expected to complete something out of your skill set is so frustrating! Communication has become more fluid as well between all of us – which also cuts back on a lot of conflict as well. Lastly, I find that my children play better together now that they see me modeling different expectations as well.


{Picture taken by me: Girls in downtown Jacksonville, FL}

When to be the same? Ok so I definitely think there are times to treat your children the same. Especially because my kids are always concerned they aren’t getting the “same”. Some of the things they get the same are basic staples of life – meals, clothes, shoes, signs of affection etc… These are important because they are concrete and daily reminders that even though they are individuals they are ultimately equal in our home. One child who makes a poor decision doesn’t mean that the other one can make the same poor decision without similar consequences.

The consistent elements of equality have been very important in our household because it makes my children feel secure, accepted, and safe. It is so wonderful for my children to understand that they in general have similar expectations for behavior so there is no “she got to do it and I didn’t”.


{Picture taken by me: The girls in similar attire for a rare occasion}

Obviously this isn’t a perfect system. I fail often and most of the time daily. But when I do succeed, it really is a beautiful thing that I can observe the differences in my children’s behavior. I know that I will never perfect this skill because I am human, but I hope to work on becoming more of an expert. I also realize that this has permeated the rest of my life with my expectations of my students, other family members, and friends. I believe continuing down this path will encourage my girls to honor their individuality, have a greater grasp on equality, and ultimately prepare them for how to interact with others in the adult world!

Lauren Cop is a part-time SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor ciao_laurencop_sig-01of the Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL where she teaches at a local pre-school. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

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