When my wife and I bought our three-bedroom house two years ago, we faced a tough decision: Should we give each of our boys their own rooms, or should we have them bunk in together?
On one hand, if they have their own rooms, they will be less inclined to wake each other up in the morning or stay up late. And they will appreciate their privacy and independence. Plus, a single room might turn into such a disaster of dirty clothes, toys, and books.
On the other hand, sharing a room would bring them closer together as brothers and teach them important life skills.
What should we do?
We decided to let them share a room, and it seems that we’re not alone. A recent article in The Chicago Tribune talked about how more families with space to share in their homes are opting to keep their children in one room.
"Anxious kids, in particular, often have a much easier time falling asleep when they have someone in the same room or even in the same bed," said James Crist, licensed clinical psychologist and co-author of Siblings: You're Stuck With Each Other, So Stick Together.
And if you think about it, there are many other benefits:
Kids who share a room will face immediate and frequent scenarios where they have to compromise. They will want the same toy or same book. One will want the light on, and the other the light off. One will want to study, and the other will want to play. These incidents will force your children to work out their problems together. It may not always be easy or done quietly, but over time, they will begin to learn the necessary skills to problem solve.
Children who are placed in the same room are forced to figure out a way to communicate. They will quickly learn that people communicate differently and that it takes a certain style of communication to deal with certain people. They also must learn how they can speak or communicate with another to achieve their goals or keep the peace.
A Lesson in Personal Space
One of the important lessons this experience teaches a child is the importance of personal space. Everyone goes through times when they prefer to be alone to deal with a crisis or sort out the solution to a problem. Being in a room with a sibling will help them figure out when this is happening and how to handle it.
You can consider all of these skills critical training for your child’s future college dorm experience.
To make the transition smooth and easy, and to prepare for any anticipated issues, there are some things that you should do.
Talk About Early Mornings
Tell your children that if they wake up before their sibling, they must be quiet and let the other person sleep.
Remind Them That It's Not a Playroom
Each sibling needs to know that being in the same room is not a license to play all night.
Talk About the Need for Sleep
Each sibling needs to get a good night’s sleep so keeping the other one up is unacceptable.
Putting your kids in the same room is not the right choice for everyone. Sometimes there are issues that arise that are insurmountable and, if that happens to you, it might be best to separate them. But that doesn’t mean down the road that you can’t try again.