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Curtin University of Technology
Twins and Multiples

Just right-who does achieve the balance and how?

The downloadable model may be used to assess the nature of the multiple birth relationship. Ticking the horizontal line enables the complexities ofhe multiple birth relationship to begin to appear. Children may fall broadly into one of the three types or they may swing from being intense individuals to being closely coupled or they may display characteristics of all three. The children within the multiple sets may vary, for example, one child may be "Closely Coupled" whilst the other is a "Mature Dependent". In the case of higher multiples, it may be most useful to consider each possible pair, or each child compared with "the rest". Is there one excluded possibly because of their relative disability or because of their gender - the girls may play together while excluding their triplet brother - or there may be a brother-sister collaboration excluding the other(s).

If one child is always dominant, try arranging play sessions with children where the other multiple(s) are not present. Playing with younger children may help the more dependent multiples to assume more of a leadership role. Playing with older children may similarly help the more dominant multiple.

Click here to download : Model For Relationships (16k pdf).

Wherever the children are placed on the model, they may experience comparison with their multiple birth sibling(s) and the impact of various life experiences. The closer the child is to being "Closely Coupled", the more they may be affected personally, socially and emotionally, being unable to function without their co-multiple(s), sometimes even using the special twin language mentioned earlier. Such children may be unable to recognise themselves in the mirror or a photograph, and possibly respond to both names interchangeably. Closely coupled children may find it very difficult to form friendships with other children and to learn in a group or social situation. In the educational setting, closely coupled multiples are unlikely to have developed the skills to mix socially with other children and to learn in a group situation. Separating closely coupled multiples upon school entry may be extremely traumatic for them, their families and their teachers particularly if they have had little or no experience of separation prior to starting school.

Multiple birth children who are "Extreme Individuals" may resent their multiple birth relationship, finding it restrictive and inhibiting. This may be demonstrated by denying their multiple relationship so that they miss out on the positive aspects of being a multiple, which are primarily a unique relationship with a sibling of the same age, able to provide support, understanding and friendship. "Extreme Individuals" may strive to emphasise their individuality, sometimes polarizing their behaviour so that they become opposites, for example" the good child and the naughty child", "the sporty child and the academic child". One child may opt out if the other(s) appear to be better. The relationship may become highly competitive with the children becoming determined to outperform each other in all aspects of life. In school, "Extreme Individuals" may lose sight of competing with their peer group focusing only on beating the other(s). They may fight physically in an attempt to establish individuality. One child may assume the role of the good or "angel" pupil whilst the other rebels and assumes the role of the "devil" pupil. Parents and teachers are faced with the challenge of enabling each of the "extreme opposites" to develop as an individual whilst at the same time not allowing their multiple birth relationship to become a dominant, negative force.

Multiple birth children who are at the centre of the model are able to function as "Mature Dependents" able to enjoy their multiple relationship but also to develop as individuals with their own friends and interests. They are likely to cope with the challenges of school being able to adapt flexibly whether their co-multiple(s) is with them or not. They also realise that being an individual may mean choosing the same as their co-multiple(s).