twins having a difficult time playing alone - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 03-20-2013, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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I just realized my children do not know what to do when they are alone.


My children are almost always together and they play beautifully.  I keep waiting for the sibling bickering, etc. but at 8.75yo it hasn’t happened…yet. They do not need to play with each other when other children are around and are happy playing separately with other children (at recess, in the neighborhood, etc.). But the past few weeks I noticed they do not know what to do when they are alone. e.g. Tonight, my son was gone with my husband for one hour and my daughter continuously whined that she had nothing to do, was bored, didn’t know what to do, etc. The same thing happened last weekend when my son was sick in bed. When my daughter stays after school for an hour once a week for drama club my son is complaining in a similar way.


Has anyone else gone through this?

Or do all children have this problem when by themselves and I never noticed because mine always have a playmate?

I realized that until recently, they were never apart. I’m guessing they will figure out what to do with themselves over time. Over the years my husband and I talked about separating them; each taking one to do something. But we never actually did it. My husband works a lot so they are usually both with me or on his rare time off we are all together as a family.



eta:  I end up using this time for a little one on one time with the alone/bored child...which is nice.  But sometimes I am unable to do something with them. (Like tonight I had a migraine and didn't feel like playing a game.  So my daughter ended up cuddling with me in bed - after all the whining.)  So...maybe it isn't really a problem...I just thought maybe they should learn how to entertain themselves when alone.

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#2 of 8 Old 03-21-2013, 02:58 PM
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The only thing I can suggest is practice! My boys are 8. They are homeschooled, so they spend most of their time together and with little sister. They do separate occasionally when one wants to do something the other isn't interested in at the moment, but for the most part, they are together. And like you described, they play great together, probably because they are so familiar with each other.


I remember as a kid preferring to play alone, because other kids didn't play "right". I had complex story lines with my toys, and didn't want to explain it to someone else. 


My point is there are many kinds of play, many kinds of normal. They don't have to live as you (or I) did to have fond memories of childhood.

Twin boys (2/05) and little sister (10/07)
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#3 of 8 Old 03-22-2013, 07:11 AM
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I don't have my twins yet, but from my own childhood experiences, some kids like to play alone more than others, so preferring to play with others is not a problem, but I do think it is good to be able to self-entertain a bit. I am one who loved and still loves to have alone time, but there are plenty of folks out there who can pretty much take it or leave it. Practice is key, which is why with my DD I try and encourage independent play so she can figure it out, either by gently suggesting something to do or helping her get past a "stuck" point in her play. If you gently suggest an activity or two, would your DD be open to that? Maybe ease her in by having it be something she does for a bit and then shows you the result (art/drawing, building, dress-up, etc. are good for this)?

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#4 of 8 Old 04-24-2013, 10:01 PM
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I think alot has to do with the individual child's personality.  I don't have twins, but my sister does.  They will be 3 in August.  Emma is perfectly fine playing by herself, with other children, or with her twin.  Ella... not so much.  She's constantly looks for her sister, gets shy around other children if her sister is not there with her, and will cling to the adult she is closest to if her sister is not there or is there but otherwise busy.  They have two older siblings who have no trouble occupying themselves.  I have two sons, one almost grown and one still a toddler.  My teenager never had a problem playing by himself, in fact preferred it, but my little one is still working on independant play away from Mom-Mom.  My fiance has a preteen and two school aged children.  The two oldest can occupy themselves usually pretty well.  The 5 year old... she acts like she cannot function without either her Dad or her sister.  To the point where, she does not know how to play by herself, will not even try, unless forced to- she will sit on the couch next to her Dad doing nothing, even if we set toys, games art projects, even brand new toys.  We've practiced with her for over a year now, encouraging her independant play, and it's just now beginning to come along where SOMETIMES, she will find an activity by herself and stick with it for a few minutes before she comes back to join her Dad or her sister.  Practice is the key, practice, practice, practice.

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#5 of 8 Old 04-25-2013, 03:47 AM
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I think it depends on the child, my nephews are 8 and home schooled too so are always together, they play with other kids too but are always a little unit. I think it's something that they'll gradually grow out of, not sure you can force this as they might push against it.

I also have twin nieces who are now 14 and they used to be the same until about 10 when they suddenly wanted to be seen as separate, which was a huge change as up until then they'd always wanted to dress the same even.

Not sure I have any advice other than to just let it happen naturally.

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#6 of 8 Old 05-23-2013, 02:31 AM
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My boys are 6 and are what I call "interdependant". They have been together for all of their lives and when they were younger I had one who liked to play by himself sometimes and his brother couldn't do anything without having his twin right there. Now they are in kindergarten and each have different friends and travel in different social circles, but always knows where the other one is in space. That is why we chose not to separate them for 1st grade. We were afraid that they would just wonder the halls looking for each other the whole day. They both also play indipendently even when they are home together. We encouraged this when they were younger by having one play with a toy he liked (puzzles) and the other play with something he liked (building blocks) at the same time, but not together. So I had one do his puzzles at the kitchen table and his brother building his blocks in the living room. I think part of that is also personality, part nurturing them and fostering them to play apart. There was a time last summer when they were both off that I scheduled each one for a play date with neighbourhood kids on separate days on purpose so that they could be alone. Sometimes I did special things with them (mommy and me time), other times I left them to their own devices and suggested things when the whining started. When the whining continued, I just left the room and refused to engage and at some point they got bored and picked a toy. It's all very individual to each pair of siblings, but I think they figure it out in the end.

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#7 of 8 Old 05-23-2013, 04:00 AM
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I always think about how much FUN it must be to be twins, and rarely think about this negative aspect. I told my boyfriend that if I were like “The Twins,” it would be great as then I could get twice as much done as there would be two of me. It just goes to show that from the outside, we (well, I do, anyway) often tend to think everyone else’s lives are so perfect, but we all have our various struggles that we deal with on a personal level.

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#8 of 8 Old 05-23-2013, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for all he replies. 

I've decided it is not really a problem, just the way their relationship is at this time.

I did not want to force them to change, partly because in many ways it is nice.  I was just wondering if I was causing a problem by not planning separate activities.  I think as they grow up and their interests go in different directions, this will work itself out.

Originally Posted by Shuli View Post

. They both also play indipendently even when they are home together.

Yes, mine will play independently too; but having one sibling out of the house affects them.  shrug.gif

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