When Should Siblings Share a Bedroom?

As we have built larger homes and had more space for children, we have put every child in a separate bedroom, but there are advantages to children sharing bedrooms. In previous generations, children had to share bedrooms because it was a financial necessity. However, sharing bedrooms is a great way to teach social skills and encourage siblings to develop a close relationship.

If you want to provide siblings opportunities to share bedrooms, you need to weigh the pros and cons. Here are a few tips to consider if you want your children to share a bedroom.

What to Consider Before Siblings Share A Room

  1. Consider their ages. Sharing a bedroom is usually more successful when kids are relatively close in age. A significant difference in ages could mean a difference in developmental stages. Younger children can be impacted negatively by the normal developmental tasks of teens. For example, you wouldn’t want your toddler or elementary school child to see what age-appropriate videos are for a teen.
  2. Observe their behavior. Do your children enjoy spending time together? It’s natural for siblings to argue, but are they usually peaceful or frequently bickering? If there are already temperament differences in your children that make it difficult for them to get along with one another, putting them in the same bedroom is probably not a great alternative.
  3. Talk with your kids. Your children are more likely to cooperate if they have a voice in the process. Ask what they think about sharing a room and what you can do to make the arrangement more comfortable. It is much easier to have children share rooms when they are at an age when requesting that they be allowed to share rooms.
  4. Prepare for transitions. Babies and adolescents have special needs. Most pediatricians recommend that infants younger than 6 months sleep in their parent’s bedroom to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. At puberty, many children will want more privacy. Using these guidelines, you will want to have children who are toddlers through elementary age begin sharing rooms. If children are used to sharing rooms, they are more likely to be successful sharing rooms when they are teens.
  5. Start small. Sharing a bedroom is a big step, so you may want to experiment first. See how your kids handle being in the same tent on a camping trip or staying in one room when they visit grandparents. It will give you some insights into what to expect. Kids who share spaces for shorter periods of time will help you identify issues you may see when they share spaces for longer periods of time.

How to Make Shared Bedrooms Work

  1. Establish ground rules. When siblings first begin sharing a room, establish the ground rules. If your children are younger, it will be your responsibility to create the rules. If your kids are a little older, they can help establish the ground rules for their room. On the bright side, this can be a training ground for when your kids go to college or rent an apartment with roommates. Sharing a room is the training ground for learning to be considerate and kind toward roommates.
  2. Coordinate sleep schedules. Keeping children from interfering we each other’s sleep can be a major issue. You may need to establish a schedule where one child goes to bed earlier than the other child to prevent children from playing and keeping each other awake. It will help if they can sleep through the night and have similar bedtime or napping routines.
  3. Create separate zones. Even though your children are sharing a room, they both need to have their own space. It would help your children have their own areas to decorate in their own style and have their own possessions. That could mean hanging up strings of beads or just teaching your children that each of them has their own space.
  4. Maximize space. If your square footage is limited, make the most of your options with clever design and furniture choices. There are lots of ideas on Pinterest of ways to build or buy furniture that creates more space. Start with bunk beds or loft beds that provide a place to sleep without taking up the rest of the room and build in drawers or cabinets under the beds, so your children don’t need additional storage space.
  5. Minimize clutter. We live in a culture that says more is better, but it’s really not when it comes to your children’s rooms. You need to limit the toys, clothes, and possessions in their rooms so they can keep their rooms organized—store items your kids rarely use in the basement or garage. Create a place to store anything in your children’s rooms to minimize clutter. Even young children can learn to put toys and clothes back where they belong.
  6. Buy headphones. Your children may like different music or videos. Parents can address conflicts over loud music and other intrusive sounds by having them wear headphones. Wearing noise-canceling headphones or using a pink noise machine may help your kids enjoy separate activities simultaneously.
  7. Check for hazards. You need to be especially aware of hazards in rooms when there is an age difference in your children. A six-year-old may play with toys that have small enough pieces that a toddler would choke on. You need to identify any objects that a toddler could choke on, so you can remove them or put them out of reach.

Even if you have more bedrooms than kids, you may still want your children to bunk together, especially when they’re young. Sharing a room lays the groundwork for learning how to share and resolve conflicts in relationships. The ideal decision for your family will often depend on your children’s ages and personalities.