Any parent of two or more children who share a bedroom will probably be very familiar with the issue of sibling rivalry. Although sharing a bedroom seems like a great way to encourage kids to develop stronger relationships, room-sharing can easily become a fiasco due to more confined living quarters, lack of personal space and arguments over the delegation of janitorial tasks and the positioning of personal items. Without a good technique, parents are likely to encounter those piercing complaints teeming with fault-finding and frustration.
SET PHYSICAL BOUNDARIES With the use of boundaries, such as a curtain or bookcase, to help define rooms, children are able to mark their own private spaces, which gives them a sense of autonomy and privacy. This is where the infamous “boundary line” tape comes into play. While parents may not wish to place an actual line of masking tape down the length of the floor to divide the room, it might be a good idea to set a boundary so that siblings can feel that they have a special little place all of their own. Children can keep their own belongings on their designated side to prevent squabbles over cleaning responsibilities. Each child will keep his own side of the room clean and return any objects not belonging in the assigned areas.
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TRY A GRADUAL APPROACH Another approach is gradual assimilation of the children into a room together. For example, before the birth of a second child you can speak to your older daughter to prepare her for the transition. When the baby is born, you can bring the newborn into your eldest daughter’s room and get them used to being with each other in the same space. This can help to naturally make that transition more effective. Although boundaries are helpful in the same room, you could also use a common play area, which is a special place for the girls to play with their shared toys, and sibling interaction is especially encouraged.
TEACH THE KIDDOS RESPECT No matter how you approach the issue, younger children should be taught how to treat each other’s property with respect, and staggering sleep times might prove a successful remedy to prevent the children from keeping each other awake. Additionally, extra safety precautions should be taken when a toddler shares a room with a baby. If a school-aged child shares a room with a baby, then the baby’s nap times must be respected, and the older child should be assigned some personal time in his room a few times a day. Finally, giving older children responsibilities to care for their younger siblings in the room is a great way to create a bond and to encourage a positive, healthy sharing of space.
BENEFITS OF ROOM SHARING Although sharing a room can pose a challenge for kids, there are many important life lessons that can be learned through this arrangement. Siblings learn to value teamwork and to manage conflict, which are fantastic attributes that prepare children for their futures. They will certainly never forget the special memories that they create with their siblings as they grow and experience life together.
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