The Telegraph reports that whilst most children can experience anxiety when measured against the abilities of their peers, the problem is more acute in triplets and twins – because they are always “intrinsically compared” to one another.
In an appeal to parents and education leaders, the mental health charity Young Minds has warned that lumping together siblings with similar features but wildly varying abilities and feelings is more likely to lead to mental health problems later in life.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Emma Saddleton, the charity’s helpline manager, said that twins and triplets displayed noticeably higher levels of stress and anxiety in the run up to exam results because they are compared “to the ninth degree” to their siblings.
She added that because Britain has a lower proportion of twins compared to European countries including France, Germany and Denmark, there is a lack of awareness nationally about the mental health issues they face.
“One of the critical times where it can really work against a young person is when it comes to things like exam results. A twin can achieve straight Bs across the board and actually do really well, but because their twin brother for example has got five As and five Bs, it can feel like the end of the world.”
Her comments follow growing concern among educationalists over a looming mental health crisis amongst young people, with a recent survey of 338 schools finding that more than half had experienced surges in the number of pupils suffering from anxiety and stress.
Commenting, Helen Turier, a senior manager at the Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba), said that parents needed to recognise and encourage their twins’ sense of “individuality”, rather than treating them as “one unit”. “When you treat multiple birth children as one unit, thinking they have to do everything the same, they fail to develop that unique sense of identity
Are you a twin and have felt the same? Do you have twins in your class? Is it difficult to treat them differently? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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