by Rachelle Tannenbaum
Should your kids share a bedroom? For many families, the answer will be dictated by space and finances. But for those who have a choice, how can you decide? And when kids do share bedroom space, what issues may arise, and now can you deal with them? This is the issue we will explore in this month’s issue of the e-zine.
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SHOULD KIDS SHARE A BEDROOM?Benefits of bedroom sharing
by Rachelle Tannenbaum
Things to consider
- Kids are forced to compromise. Sure, this is not the only means to develop such skills. But in today's society, where we are increasingly able to customize every aspect of our daily lives, the need to compromise is often not addressed with children. Yet imagine how difficult it would be to share an office or house with a coworker or spouse who never learned to share! This is already an issue on college campuses: More and more students have never shared a room before moving into a dorm, at which point they have difficulty dealing with even small differences or conflicts.
- Siblings can support each other in ways that parents cannot. Siblings may be willing to approach each with questions that are difficult or awkward to ask a parent.
- Siblings may develop a closer relationship. This isn’t the only way to encourage sibling closeness, nor is a happy ending guaranteed. But when siblings share a room, it provides natural opportunities for them to share advice, activities, and conversation.
- Space in the house is maximized. You may be able to have communal spaces (such as a computer room) that you couldn’t otherwise have.
How can you make room sharing a positive experience?
- Age. Bedroom sharing works best when kids are relatively close in age. When there is a big gap (about 3 years or more), you may face logistical problems such as drastically different bedtimes. This may also be a problem when one of the children is an infant who is not yet sleeping through the night (and who therefore may keep the other sibling awake).
- Gender. Opposite-sex siblings can share a bedroom just fine when they are young, but it can become a lot more awkward as one of them approaches puberty. If they still share a room at that point, you will need to become much more attuned to the need for privacy.
- Personality clashes. Sharing a bedroom is wonderful when it works, but it can also intensify sibling rivalry. Rearranging room assignments (if possible) may indeed sometimes be the best solution.
- What about blended families? Sharing with a stepsibling can be a good way to promote integration of the new family, but children may also feel as though a stranger has invaded the bedroom. It’s important to acknowledge that a child may feel resentful, and to find ways to promote cooperation rather than hostility.
- Remember that everyone needs some privacy. When kids do share a bedroom, it’s important to ensure that each has a place to call their own. For example, you could establish a rule that says nobody may go onto another’s bed without permission. Older kids might also want to use screens or a bookcase to establish some sort of separation.
- Encourage your kids to collaborate in choosing decorations for the room. If they have similar tastes, this can be a great way to choose a common theme and make the room “theirs.” Even if they don’t fully agree, you can still make things work. Just use relatively neutral colors on the walls, then give each child a certain amount of choice with respect to bedspreads, pictures for the wall, and other decorations.
- Establish ground rules. “Always knock if the door is closed” is a good example. Other rules might cover which possessions are shared and which should not be touched without permission, or what will happen if one sibling wants to have a sleepover.
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