In some countries, it’s considered the norm to have siblings or even an entire family sleeping in the same room. In Australia, our houses are getting bigger and our families are shrinking (we mean people are having less kids, not that we’re getting shorter).
But even when modern houses have enough space to give everyone their own bedroom, some parents are choosing to have their kids share. What gives?
Think about it. They go to each other when they wake from a nightmare. You only have to sweep one room for dirty laundry. Only one room’s carpeting is destroyed by sultanas. These parents might just be on to something.
Every family is different, though. What works for one may not be right for another. If you’re tossing up between your kids sharing a bedroom or having their own, you’ve come to the right place.
Sharing a Bedroom
Some people have memories of begging to have their own bedroom throughout their childhood. Others look back and are grateful for the extra time shared with their sibling. Sharing a room can be a great learning experience, but it can also raise issues such as privacy and ‘who on earth set the curtains on fire?’
- Leaves the spare room free to be a playroom for the children
- Teaches about sharing, compromising and tolerance
- Encourages sibling bonding and increases opportunity for special moments and memories
- Can strengthen the sibling relationship for years to come.
- The children aren’t able to discover or express their individual personalities as much
- Conflict can increase if children don’t get along
- Privacy can become an issue as children get older
- Quality of sleep may be affected.
Advice for Parents with Kids Sharing a Bedroom
- Establish boundaries: Take preventative measures to reduce the chance of arguments over privacy. Allocate each child their own side of the room, their own set of drawers, their own toy box filled with labelled toys – whatever it takes to keep their stuff separate. Make sure they ask each other if they’re allowed to use or play with something that doesn’t belong to them and treat the item with respect and care. Encourage sharing, but make it clear that just because they share a bedroom doesn’t mean they’re entitled to read their sibling’s secret diary.
- Don’t take sides: When it comes to arguments or disagreements, take a neutral stance. Taking sides can create a wider divide between siblings and create resentments that can last a lifetime. Play it safe by letting the kids learn that they’re responsible for their own relationship, and it’s more fun for both of them if they get along.
Having Separate Bedrooms
Some people think if you have the spare room in your home, you should give your kids separate bedrooms. But then where will all your music memorabilia go? While having their own bedroom sure does have its perks, being separated from each other can also have its disadvantages.
- Individual needs are met (e.g. if one child requires a nightlight or prefers the fan on)
- Increase in privacy
- Increased ability to express themselves
- They may feel more comfortable inviting friends over with their own bedroom to play in.
- Decrease in sibling bonding and interaction
- Not as prepared for sharing and compromising when they live with roommates in future
- Less chance to develop communication and social skills
- Can increase chance of developing a sense of entitlement.
Advice for Parents with Kids in Separate Bedrooms
- Encourage sleepovers: Every now and then, allow your kids to sleep over in each other’s room, or pitch the tent in the backyard for a sibling campout. This will give them a chance to bond and create memories together.
- Give them more one-on-one time: A great way to encourage your kids to open up to one another and build a stronger relationship is to get them away from mum and dad and on their own. By having them stay at a relative’s house or on a camp together, they’ll no doubt become closer by turning to each other for comfort.
The age, gender and temperament of your kids should all play a part in your decision, but you should also get input from your kids themselves.
Still on the fence? Take this quiz to find out if you should keep your kids in the same room or give them their own.