I have 5 year old twins that are starting to really want more independence from me and from each other. I am noticing however that one of them is starting to be break away faster and is more social with other kids and his brother feels left out. I really want to encourage them to be individuals and make new friends. Even though they are identical, they have extremely different personalities. They are both thoughtful boys, but one of them is really sensitive and shy while the other seems to be less emotional and more outgoing. Last weekend they had another little boy over that they both really enjoy playing with at daycare. Great! I thought until one of my boys came into the kitchen really sad telling me he had no one to play with. I asked him why he wasnt playing with his brother and his friend and he said he didnt know how to. I tried to gently encourage him to maybe give them ideas on a game he had come up with, but at that point I think he just wanted to be alone with his brother. I am thinking that maybe next time I will ask each of them to pick a friend to invite over. I could also have one of them have a friend over and have the other go to a friends house. I'm wondering if this is going to get easier or harder as they get older and meet even more new kids to play with.
Three is a really awkward number, socially. It's my experience that when there are three kids in the house, I need to either create group activities or prepare to pay lots of attention to the one who is currently left out.
I am a twin, and I can mostly say that this is a tough time. It's really common for outsiders (other kids, teachers, other families) to treat twins as a single social unit, and for the toddler and pre-school years, twins often behave as a single social unit, designating certain interactions, and assigning roles between themselves. As they reach five or six, they begin to view themselves as individuals, which leads to power struggles between them, and to the kind of little identity crisis you're seeing, where one child believes he lacks a fundamental social skill. They may need a little more space from each other in this moment - separate play dates, assignment to different kindergarten classrooms. They certainly need your support and assurance that they are both capable of doing all the things, and occasional reminders about how.