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There are many differing opinions about whether or not it is a good idea for children to share a bedroom. Teachers will comment that, when asking a yawning child in their class why they are so tired, the reply is usually related to disturbed sleep because of a sibling keeping them awake. On the other hand, many parents will comment that their children thrive in a shared bedroom environment. Some families have no choice but to have children 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 wish to know some of the advantages and disadvantages of sharing.

Sharing pros:

  • It is thought that siblings who share a room may develop an emotional closeness that wouldn’t otherwise happen. They are, after all, sharing their personal space, meaning they will have more discussions over the years.
  • Newborn twins find comfort in sharing a crib with their sibling; after having shared the confined space in the womb for nine months, they sooth one another to sleep.
  • Living in the same bedroom will inevitably teach your children to share. It will help to teach them to compromise – ‘if you use that first, I’ll use it next’, etc – and this may cut down on arguments.
  • Sharing a bedroom and therefore not having their own bedroom is more likely to stop a possessive attitude. Parents certainly won’t hear, ‘Mum, he’s in MY room!’
  • Collaborative play is good for children’s social skills and this is far easier to encourage if children aren’t sitting in separate rooms.

Sharing cons:

  • If your children are different ages they will have different sleep schedules. 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 ten-year-old if their teenage brother or sister is watching television until 10pm.
  • A lack of ownership over the space may result in children being more reluctant to respect it, which may affect their willingness to keep a room tidy, etc.
  • 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.
  • Even if your children are close in age, that does not mean they will necessarily have the same friends or even like one another’s friends! It is nice 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 do not like.

It is also common in some households for there to be children sharing a bedroom with a parent. With a shortage on space in modern houses it is not uncommon to need to share a room and often parents will sacrifice some of their space for their children. Children sharing a bedroom with a parent will experience some of the same pros and cons of those sharing with siblings, but it can also impact the parent in many ways.

A common question comes when children get older, as parent’s feel their children can’t share a bedroom forever and certainly in teenage years children will want more privacy. There is no law about what age children should no longer share a room but it is recommended that children aged 10 and above of different genders don’t share a room and generally once children reach the age of 16 they have their own room.

If you think you’d like to try to have your children share a bedroom, or even if bedroom sharing is the only option in your family, it would be useful to bear the above in mind. Common tips from parents who have tried this, include 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 according to their favourite colours, etc. For children sharing a bedroom 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, 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.

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