Many adults remember sharing a room with one or more siblings in their childhood home. For some, the close proximity served as an opportunity for bonding, while others don’t recall the experience with such fondness. In any case, kids doubling up in bedrooms is a common practice, sometimes because their parents hope to encourage a tightly knit family and sometimes out of necessity.
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Pros of Bedroom Sharing
There is a definite upside to having your children share a bedroom. Kids may fight, but they will also learn to work out their differences and often develop especially strong bonds with one another. Additionally, kids who learn early on to share, respect another person’s space and belongings, and find ways to live cooperatively with a sibling are building the groundwork to becoming flexible, accepting adults.
Challenges Associated with Bedroom Sharing
While the big picture shows definite advantages to bedroom sharing, the practice is not without its difficulties. Just because they are siblings doesn’t mean that they will have the same taste in room decor or music, and it is not uncommon for some pretty intense disagreements to occur.
Sometimes, all that is needed to keep the peace are individual headphones so that each child can enjoy their own music without disturbing their roommate. Living in such close proximity with no space for privacy can be a bit unnerving at times, and bickering is commonplace. In addition to the headphones, mum and dad may want to purchase earplugs for themselves!
If it is decided that siblings will be sharing a room, there are some things that parents can do to minimise the difficulties and maximise harmony. Since room decor tends to be a major issue for many sibling roommates, parents may choose to allow each child to display the things that appeal to them on their own side of the room.
If the siblings are in agreement, a uniform theme or colour scheme can be used, but if they have very different tastes, it may be easiest to give each child a bit of freedom in decorating to suit themselves. If space is tight, bunk beds can be helpful, but it is a good idea for each child to have their own dresser, desk, and shelving unit so that they can easily express their individuality.
Issues like closet space and shared possessions should be discussed upfront, and respect for the other sibling should always be emphasised. While it is best to allow the children to work out the inevitable disagreements on their own, there may be times where mum and dad have to step in.
One of the biggest factors determining whether the sharing of bedroom space will result in happy memories or sibling alienation will be the manner in which each child interacts with the other. It is important that the kids are expected to respect each other and treat each other with kindness. Setting a few ground rules is wise, so that everyone involved is aware of what it required. Some ideas for room rules might include:
- Ask permission before using something that doesn’t belong to you
- When borrowing something, be sure to return it promptly and in good condition
- Try to give each other a little privacy
- Knock before entering if the door is closed
- Keep your personal items in your own space
- Maintain a level of tidiness acceptable to both parties
- Respect each other’s differences
- Treat your sibling in a manner that you would like to be treated
With a little planning and consistent enforcement of household and room rules, sharing a bedroom can be a positive experience.
Read our Q&A on whether children of the opposite sex should share a room.