07/06/2009 13:49 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ask Joanne: One Of My Twins Is Clingy At Nursery

Send your parenting question or dilemma to our life coach Joanne Mallon at this address and say if you'd like your name changed.

Charlotte asks:

I have twin daughters aged 4 (and an older son). The girls have totally different personalitie: one wants to be a boy and is very self-assured; the other is ultra-feminine and has recently become extremely clingy.

She has fallen into a habit of screaming and wailing when I leave her at nursery (they have been going 2 days a week for the last 3 years) and she has to be dragged off me by the staff. As soon as I'm out of the door, she is fine. I have tried the gentle settling in approach, the 'drop and run' approach, the 'praise good behaviour' approach (especially by making a fuss of her sister) and even the 'no treats' approach.

It's getting me down now as I know it's just for attention, and it creates such massive disruption. I'm really dreading them starting school in September. How can I break this cycle of behaviour?

Here's life coach Joanne's reply

Dear Charlotte

I don't know what's in the water right now, but I'm getting a lot of questions about separation anxiety. So, aside from this being a normal behaviour pattern shown by many children (that she will grow out of), have you identified anything specific at nursery or home that could be related to this? Any particular changes that might have kicked this off?

Linda Jones is a mother of twin girls and founder of the website for parents of multiples, You've Got Your Hands Full. Her advice is:

  • Of course they are different
  • Relax, stop making such an issue of this behaviour and talk to the nursery staff. They will have seen the same behaviour (and a lot more challenging behaviour) before. If she's fine when you leave then she should be able to move on.
  • I can't see how them being twins influences this, but try your best to give them equal attention and not 'reward' the challenging behaviour with more attention -- easier said than done!
  • Talk to one of the Tamba honorary consultants if want further support, they're very helpful

One thing I would add is to pick an approach and stick to it. Be consistent with her, even if it looks like it's not working at first. Try not to show your own anxiety as she will pick up on it. Deal with school when it comes, she may have improved dramatically by then. Don't drain your own energy by worrying about what might be between now and September. Stick to focusing on dealing with what is right how.

Hope this helps

all the best


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