Twin talk: Should you be concerned?

I have two-year-old twins. My problem is with their "twin talk." They understand me and my husband, but refuse to answer in anything but their own "language." Should I be concerned?

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Gayle Peterson

Gayle Peterson, PhD, is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She is a clinical member of the Association... Read more

It has long been observed that twins often do develop their own language with one another. They have shared a womb and this special closeness does sometimes allow for a kind of unique communication between them. The development of twins' special "language" has always been a source of much fascination. In fact, being twins poses its own challenges and many parents complain that strangers gawk and intrude upon twins, more than single children.

Clearly, the fact that your twins understand both you and your husband means that they are learning language, but at their own pace. They are practicing first with one another, but rest assured that this will change, especially as they develop more separately from one another.

If you are concerned about their development you may decide to put them in separate preschool classrooms, so that they each learn to communicate to others because their twin is not there. Certainly a few hours a week of separate activity with each child could also serve to "jump-start" their communication skills with others, instead of depending on their twin for interaction.

Consider, too, what makes each one of them different from the other. For example, does one girl like peas, while the other prefers carrots? Or does one show promise in mental organization of toys, while the other has greater physical abilities?

Encouraging the ways in which they are unique will allow them to differentiate more easily, as they grow. Encouragement in this manner simply extends their reaching out to others, instead of their twin for interaction. Language development will certainly follow as this occurs.

Certainly there will come a time when they will want their own separate friendships and will grow independently from one another. Perhaps, this is a time to enjoy their special camaraderie, rather than be worried about it!

They will not stay this young for long and by the time they reach school age, they will most certainly be placed separately. This is the usual protocol for twins today.

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