I am talking on BBC Radio Scotland this week about ‘The Pros and Cons of Siblings Sharing.
There are many differing opinions about whether or not it’s a good idea for siblings to share a bedroom.
As a former Deputy Head Teacher, I often saw yawning kids in my class tired out due to disturbed sleep because of a sibling keeping them awake, either a younger sibling not settling or an older sibling on their iphone!
Of course, some families have no choice but to have siblings sharing a bedroom due to a lack of rooms (or unexpected twins or triplets!) If you’re thinking about whether or not your children need a bedroom of their own, you may ‘Pause to Ponder’ some of the advantages and disadvantages of sharing.
- Siblings who share a room often develop an emotional closeness that wouldn’t otherwise happen. They are sharing their personal space, meaning they will have more discussions, chats, laughs and shared memories over the years, which will build their closeness and bond.
- New-born twins find enormous comfort in sharing a cot with their sibling; after having shared the confined space of their Mum’s womb for nine months, they sooth, comfort & help one another to sleep & can often be seen holding hands, or caressing.
- Sleeping in the same bedroom will inevitably teach your children to share. It will also help to teach them to compromise hopefully – ‘if you use that first, I’ll use it next’, etc – and this may cut down on arguments. (maybe? )
- Sharing a bedroom, and not having their own bedroom, is more likely to prevent a possessive attitude. You certainly won’t hear, ‘Mum, she’s in MY room AGAIN!’
- Collaborative & imaginative play is good for children’s social skills and this is far easier to encourage if children aren’t sitting in separate rooms.
- If your children are different ages they will have different sleep routines. Toddlers, for example, need a nap time and this will mean that their older brother or sister will not be able to play in their room if the toddler is asleep. Likewise, it will be very disruptive for a 10-year-old if their teenage brother or sister is watching television until 10pm or on their ipad playing games.
- A lack of ownership over the space may result in your kids not taking ownership of keeping it tidy and they may lack respect for each other’s space which can cause lots of arguments.
- Privacy is important, even for children. Teenagers and siblings of the opposite sex will certainly benefit from a place they feel comfortable is their own, otherwise certain situations (such as changing clothes) become difficult for them. Teenagers like retreating away from the family space frequently to do their ‘own thing’ so be mindful of respecting that need as your growing tween turns into a teenager.
- Even if your children are close in age, they usually don’t have the same friends or even like one another’s friends! It is enjoyable for children to have a place to bring their friends but it could lead to arguments and resentment if one sibling feels like their space is being invaded by someone they don’t like.
Should Children of the Opposite Sex Share a Bedroom?
If your house is rented and owned by a housing association, sometimes they do have rules and regulations in place concerned with how many children, and which sex of children, can sleep in any one bedroom. For example, they may state that after the age of 10, different sexes of siblings shouldn’t share a room. If this applies to you, then it would be best to contact your relevant housing association for information and to discuss the circumstances. Be aware, however, that overcrowding may be allowed if the room is naturally big, or if it occurs simply because children get older, and reach that ten-year-old threshold.
It’s certainly true that when children reach a certain age and enter puberty, they may feel happier having more privacy and sleeping elsewhere. Perhaps there may be another room in your house where your child could have a put-up bed or sofa bed, instead of sharing.
Respect is the key energy of happy families ~ Sue Atkins
Each of your children has their own unique personality, hobbies and likes and dislikes so it’s about ‘talking & ‘teaching ‘ them about respecting those differences and learning to be part of the Family Team.
Parents in my Parenting Forum https://sueatkinsparentingcoach.com/join-today/community/ who have tried this, suggest making sure that there is an optional divider across the children’s bedroom. This could be as simple as a curtain or sheet of fabric on a string that can be drawn across in time of need.
Other tips include ensuring that each child has ownership of their side, which is decorated personally with their favourite colours, curtains, characters, teddies etc.
For siblings who wake one another due to different sleep routines or perhaps due to toilet visits or coughing, a handy tip is to have some sort of background noise in the room, such as a fan, or a night light, if the children are happy with that.
Trying to balance all of these things may be tricky but they will pay off in the long run.
Of course once your kids enter into bringing home boyfriends and girlfriends we’re into a whole new topic of conversation! A blog for another day:)
What are your experiences? Head over to my Forum and jump on and join in the conversations over there