Sometimes because of space and sometimes as a matter of comfort, siblings often share a bedroom while growing up. As with most things that encompass the “sibling life”, there are pros and cons that parents should be aware of in order to effectively manage the situation. Here are a few issues for parents to consider when siblings share a bedroom:
Compatibility – The number one issue to be examined when siblings are selected to share a room is their similarity in temperament. Even putting identical twins together can be a bad choice if they are more opposite than alike on important issues. For instance, if one sibling is messy and the other needs order, rooming together can be a nightmare (for siblings and parents) due to the constant conflicts sure to arise. For family harmony, parents should consider the personalities of the siblings and be prepared to teach the fine art of compromise.
Age Gaps – A toddler with a different sleep schedule than their seven year old roommate may cause some problems for both siblings. The younger child may not sleep very well throughout the night and this could very well interfere with the older child getting a good night’s rest. Or perhaps the older child is waking the toddler during nap time. In both cases one child may not be getting enough rest and parents will then have to deal with crankiness from one or both children. Also it’s important to be aware that issues of bullying and strong jealousy can take hold with siblings in different age groups. Unfortunately, behind the closed doors of the sibling’s bedroom these problems can intensify. Parents should pay close attention to the conflicts (type and frequency) when rooming siblings with age differences as new sleeping arrangements may be necessary.
Gender – Sharing rooms when genders differ is a subject which has varying opinions. Some believe that the sibling bond benefits no matter the gender and they have no problem with siblings of the opposite sex sharing a bedroom, even as grade-schoolers. Others believe it is always best to separate siblings for room sharing based on genders and will not mix genders at all. There are benefits and obstacles to both viewpoints, but clearly differences in gender is an issue parents must deal with at some point when siblings share a room. Of course, the older siblings get, the more relevant the issue becomes. Most would agree separation should come before the siblings reach middle school.
Privacy Needs – Usually, around age eleven a child is beginning their transition to the “wonderful teen years". At this age children are “in between” childhood (where they depend heavily on their parents) and teenager (where they fight fiercely for respect and independence). It can be an exciting and confusing time as the challenges of puberty is sure to take center stage. It is not uncommon for a "tweener" to ask for their own room and they will gladly accept a basement or attic. If at all possible, parents should find a way to carve out a little privacy for their maturing child. They'll love you for it for sure!