Helping Siblings Share a Room

Depending on the size of your family and the size of your house, there may be times when your children need to share a bedroom. Not every family has the luxury of a bedroom per child and when space is short, it makes sense for children to share.

Some children love the companionship and closeness that comes when sharing a room with a sibling. But just as many resent being forced to share. So how can you make sharing a room straightforward and stress-free?

When children share a room, you might think it makes sense to give them the same bedtime. But having your sibling around when you’re trying to drift off can make it harder for kids to get to sleep.

If the children are different ages, it might make more sense to give them different bedtimes, appropriate to their age. This way, the younger child can get to sleep before the older one joins them (quietly). This also means children can wind down before bedtime rather than being tempted to play with their sibling. It also gives an older child time one-on-one time with their parents before bed.

Space and Belongings
Just because they are sharing a room doesn’t mean children must share everything else. Make sure each child has a designated space for their own toys and clothes and teach them to respect the other’s personal belongings. If an older child is sharing with a toddler, perhaps let the older sibling have a shelf that’s out of reach of the little one.

While younger children might not be too concerned about privacy, as they get older they’ll begin to want their own personal space. So, it’s a good idea to plan for the future – whether that means saving for a bigger home, restructuring your current home, or changing sleeping arrangements. Experts recommend that children of the opposite sex shouldn’t share beyond the age of six. If this isn’t possible straightaway, perhaps let your children change clothes in the bathroom or behind a screen to give them the privacy they crave.

It’s important that both children feel like the space in the bedroom belongs to them and not that they are simply sharing their sibling’s space. This is particularly important if older children are being made to share for the first time – for example, after a house move, the merging of two families or the arrival of a new baby.

Avoid referring to a room as ‘John’s room’ for example, if it’s shared. Let each child choose their own accessories for the room such as bedding and pictures for the wall so that they can feel that it’s theirs. Maybe even redecorate the room to mark its transition from being a room for one to a room for two.

Time to Move On
When the time comes for your children to stop sharing, you might be surprised to find they want to carry on sleeping in the same room. Don’t worry too much, children are often reluctant to change but as they get older they will naturally decide they would prefer their own space.

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