Identical Identity

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My identical twin boys are now 22 months. It has been in the last few months that we have really begun to see their verbal language develop. I have always loved this stage of development as you can begin to see what is going on in the minds of your children.

It seems to me that both A and J have a good sense of who they are as individuals. They both respond to their names being called and will also call each other by name. Recently, there was something that made me wonder how much they do actually know about their individuality. J was looking in the mirror and pointed to his reflection and called himself by A’s name. He did this several times and then would turn around to see A and point again and call him by name. I thought this was a little strange until it happened again the other day. We were outside and J caught his reflection in my sunglasses. Again, he pointed to his reflection and called himself by A’s name.

Having no experience with identical twins before these two came along, it made me wonder if this is a process that all identical twins go through. I had three singletons before the twins and so far, I haven’t really observed anything different about having twins up to this point. I have heard about twin behavior and am wondering if this is my first taste of it.

For you Mom’s of identical twins, what has your experience been with this development?

Ashley is a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mom to five kids aged 6 and under. She loves her busy, chaotic, and always unexpected days!

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10 thoughts on “Identical Identity”

  1. I remember watching a documentary in the UK with Dr Robert Winston and he did various tests on various age groups to show how children think. One of the tests was to put a blob of paint (or something) on the end of the child’s nose and for them to look in the mirror. Obviously as an adult you know its your reflection and can see something on the end of your nose and you attempt to wipe it off. The test was done on a range of age groups and there came a point as he went up the ages that they child knew it was them and noticed the mark on their nose, but up until that age, they just thought it was another child and that they other child had paint on their nose.

    I guess the difference in your case is that J recognized the other child as being A. I guess its like when you show a young child a photo and say “Who’s that”…. and they respond with Daddy or Mummy. So I don’t think at that age its a problem with identity, but more the concept of reflection and mirrors.

  2. I would imagine that the mirror test (mentioned above) just works differently for identical twins. It makes sense that when J a person who looks just like A in the mirror, he thinks it’s A, since “in real life” when he sees a person who looks like A, it IS A. I’m sure they’ll figure it out with time. I wouldn’t necessarily chalk it up to “twin behavior”. It seems more like one of the “side effects” of having an identical twin is that it probably takes a little longer to figure out how mirrors work.

  3. @torie… yes, exactly the point I was trying to make… but you managed it in less words.

    A similar example is that we have lots of photos of our family. You ask one of the twins who that photo is of and they are able to answer it, no problem at all. However, you show them a picture of himself and he responds that its his twin brother. Going back to the documentary, I am sure the point of the piece was regarding self-awareness and at that age, they have no concept of themselves as individuals.

  4. My girls used to cry whenever they touched a mirror, until about age 18 months. I always imagined that it was because they expected it to feel like Sister, but it didn’t. Then again, my identicals don’t look all that identical.

    The flip side, of course, is that many many babies, multiples and otherwise, point to their reflection and call it “Baby,” not reognizing themselves in the mirror.

  5. Our fraternal girls did this for some time. My guess is that B was seeing her sister all day, not having a true sense for how she looked. She saw her reflection in the mirror…and recognized a toddler…and called it [Baby A]…probably close enough in her little mind.

    Definitely interesting to observe, in any case!

  6. My identical twin boys Abe and Eli are 23 months, and until yesterday they both called each other Abe. It didn’t matter if it was in a photo, in the mirror, getting blamed for something, you name it. Then yesterday I heard Abe looking for his brother Eli, walking down the hall calling “Eli…Eli….Eli….” and it was this big moment. Abe might be easier to say, may sound more like “babe”, but when Eli looked in a mirror as he did so often and sayid”Abe! Abe!” you’ve got to wonder what is going on in the little head.

  7. I agree with the others. They have no idea that they look exactly alike. I never noticed that with mirrors here, but with photos, yes. They have started to understand that they look very similar after 3.

  8. Just saw this site and read the blog. I have a set of fraternal and identical twins. My identical boys are almost 14 now. They look back at family photos and its funny they can’t tell who is who..they will argue over which one is which. You would think they could tell themself, but momma has to set them straight….It pinky gets better with time. Enjoy the little moments cause they grow so fast.

  9. I have identical twin daughters. They are mirror image twins. So when they look in the mirror, they really DO see their sister! Their hair parts on the opposite sides of their heads. They are 8 now and like to joke when looking in the mirror. They’ll giggle, reverse their part and say, “There I am!” I love it.
    As they’ve grown, they’ve embraced their own identities. I recently blogged about it. Feel free to check it out.

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