The Ups and Downs of Siblings Sharing a Room
By Lynne Reeves Griffin, RN, MEd
Some parents have no choice but to have siblings share a room, while others think room-sharing will foster a closer sibling relationship. Is room-sharing conducive to family harmony?
"She won't turn out the light!" "Hey, that's my side of the closet!"
Are you hearing these familiar sibling squabbles from children who share a room in your house?
Some parents have no choice but to have siblings share a room, while others consider room-sharing in an effort to foster a closer sibling relationship. Which is more conducive to family harmony?
Whether your primary motivation is space limitations or your own fond childhood memories, sharing a room with a brother or sister--like anything else in family life--has its ups and downs. Everyone has heard stories of sisters or brothers literally dividing a room in two, yet most siblings get along fairly well when sharing a bedroom. Here are some pros and cons to consider.
The most obvious benefit to putting siblings together is that sharing a bedroom encourages them to learn to negotiate a relationship both can be happy with. How to share or decorate the room teaches your children to co-operate towards a common goal. It may not always be peaceful negotiation, nontheless they are learning to combine forces to accomplish a task. You can play a key role in supervising how this partnership is fostered by creating the ground rules that your children use to make decisions.
Siblings can bring out the best in each other when they see each other's good behavior in action. Does your child who loves reading encourage it in your reluctant reader? Does the creativity in one child draw out the artist in another? The best each of your children has to offer is powerful role modeling for good behavior.
While parents site the goal of building relationships as their primary motivation for siblings sharing a bedroom, children say that the biggest plus is nighttime company. For children who worry at night or don't like to be alone, sharing a room with a brother or sister can calm a myriad of night-time fears.
And finally, some families enjoy the space gained by combining bedrooms. Even children will appreciate the extra space if it's used for a play or family room.
Although role modeling can be a real benefit at times, it can also turn into a double-edged sword. Does one child wake up often at night, creating a domino effect in the other child? Do delay bedtime tactics spur up a competition? ("I want a glass of water." "Can you take me to the bathroom?") The not-so-good bedtime behavior of one can clearly impact the other, making things difficult for you.