As society as a whole changes, so do individual families. When larger families were the norm, it was expected that children would share a bedroom. Now that families have fewer children, this is no longer the case. That said, circumstances sometimes dictate that children must share a bedroom.
Instead of seeing this as an inconvenience, parents should adopt a positive attitude and view this as a pedagogical opportunity. Children are very perceptive, and your attitude will rub off on them. So, stay positive!
In this post, we’ll share some practical tricks to help make the experience of sharing a bedroom a positive one for your children.
Good from a pedagogical perspective or a necessary evil?
First, let’s consider the advantages most everyone agrees can have a positive effect on children. Children who share a bedroom learn from a young age that they have to take others into account and that they have to be open to compromise in order to keep things on an even keel. These kids learn that space and toys must be shared; they pick up fluid and effective communication strategies from a young age.
Another positive consequence of a shared bedroom is a lower instance of the typical childhood fears and anxieties like the fear of the dark. The darkness isn’t so scary for a child whose big brother or sister is in the bedroom with them. Thus, the likelihood of waking up to your child crawling into bed with you is much lower.
Also, the bond that arises between children who spend years sharing whispered secrets, plotting mischief and confessing their fears is also much stronger than it would have otherwise been – likely for life.
When does a shared bedroom not work so well?
A significant age difference and the corresponding differences in the children’s development stages can be a negative factor. Every stage in an infant’s or toddler’s development is important and should be allowed to be completed at the speed appropriate for the individual child. This might not be possible in the presence of a much older sibling, if the younger child feels a subconscious pressure to grow up faster than is healthy.
If the children get along well with each other, they can probably share a bedroom up until around the age of 14. However, this may no longer be possible once the first child reaches puberty. At this point, the individual child’s friendships become more important, their passion for a sport or other hobby might become more intense and they may attach themselves to a particular group or subculture that the younger child cannot understand or identify with.
On top of that, the elder child also has to deal with the expected physical changes. They may feel a feeling of shame when they might not have before and will want to spend more time alone in their bedroom.
Once they begin to discover their own sexuality, it becomes necessary for each child to have their own bedroom.
As such, there are a few warning signs that signal that it’s time to five each child their own bedroom:
- Constant fighting and conflict
- Behavioural problems
- The onset of puberty
Tips for success
While circumstances might force the children to share a bedroom, each child should have their own space. Once homework becomes more of an issue, it is important that each child have their own desk and work space. If there is no room, this can also be located outside of the bedroom.
That said, avoid using a permanent physical barrier to divide the bedroom, so that the complete space of the bedroom can be used if the children want to play together. A flexible divider, like a curtain or screen, is often ideal. If it’s not possible to separate the two sides of the room physically, you can use colors to divide the bedroom visually.
Toys and the like are a frequent source of conflict. Each child should be allowed their own possessions and be allowed to keep their favorite things separate from shared toys or items.
Visits from friends or classmates are another important issue. While having a friend over, the individual child will likely wish to play in their bedroom alone. In order to avoid fights, it’s a good idea to have clearly-defined rules for such visits. It’s also important to make sure that the child who has to leave the bedroom has something else to do during the visit. They can play a favorite game, bake cookies with you in the kitchen or watch a movie. That way, both siblings can have their fun and can continue to share a bedroom without jealousy or envy.