For some families, kids need to share a room to help consolidate space. In other cases, the siblings may request to share a room together. Whatever the case, as a parent or guardian, you might be wondering whether your kids should share a room.
Of course, there are arguments on both sides, and it’s important to consider the context of your family and each kid’s unique needs. If you’re on the fence about your kids sleeping in the same room, we detail both the pros and cons of doing this. We’ve also got you covered with some practical solutions for successful bedroom sharing.
Benefits of Siblings Sharing a Room
Creates a Sibling Bond
The more time you spend with someone, the more you get to know them, right? Maybe your kids have busy schedules with school and extracurricular activities, with little time in their schedules to spend with their siblings.
If kids share a room, they automatically spend their downtime together at night. Maybe they’re playing with dolls before bathtime, or if they’re older they might chat about their school day. Either way, siblings who share a bedroom will inevitably spend time together, which can create a stronger sibling bond.
Helps Avoid Children Disrupting Parents’ Sleep
Oftentimes, kids are afraid of the dark or monsters under their beds. They end up waking their parents up in the middle of the night or climbing into bed with their parents. Disruptions like these are tiring for parents, especially if they occur frequently.
If a child shares a bedroom with their sibling, they may not be as afraid because they are not in a big, dark room all by themselves. Just the presence of their sibling might be all they need to relax and fall back asleep.
Read More: Parent's Guide to Sleep for Children
Kids Learn to Share
Sharing is a value that children begin learning early on in life, whether they are taking turns on the playground or sharing a toy with their friends. So, when siblings share a room, they can practice their sharing capabilities.
Not only will kids be sharing a physical space when living in the same bedroom, but they will most likely have joint items in the room like toys, games, and books. As opposed to having separate toys in their own rooms, this gives your kids more opportunity to spend time practicing sharing.
Also, sharing is a characteristic that introduces empathy and respect to kids because they realize how their actions affect the emotions of others, which can help them later into their teen years and adulthood. So, the more opportunities to teach your kids how to share, the better.
Children Learn Respect
As your kids share a room, they will learn to respect each other’s privacy, personal space, and belongings over time. Respect, just like sharing, can be applied in the home, the classroom, or elsewhere in your child’s life. One study even found that respect in children is related to prosocial behavior in their life, such as community service.
Not only is respect important when your kid is young, but it is a characteristic that will follow them later in life, like in a college dorm or in the workplace. If your child shared a room with their sibling when they were younger, they will be prepared to respectfully share a room with a college roommate. This young adult will be respectful of their roommate’s space, belongings, privacy, and time. As they reach adulthood, they will continue respecting people around them like their coworkers, romantic partners, and family members.
Shared Bedtime Routine
On a more practical level, putting your kids in the same bedroom could free up time for you as a parent. Instead of reading a bedtime story in two different rooms each night, your children can each be in their beds listening to the same story at the same time. A shared bedtime routine for siblings is less time-consuming and easier for a busy parent.
It is, however, important to consider if your kids are close in age and have similar bedtimes. If not, a shared bedtime routine may not be practical.
Read more about bedtime routine here.
May Free Up Space In Your Home
Having your kids share a room can also help free up space in your home. This can be helpful for those who want that extra room to serve as a work office, a separate playroom, or even a guest room for when family and friends visit. In some cases, siblings may have to share a room due to limited space, but if you have the ability to create extra space in your home, this could be a useful benefit.
For More Information: Best Mattresses for Kids
Why Siblings Should Not Share a Room
Even though siblings sharing a room comes with a handful of benefits, it is important to note that this situation does not come without complications.
The Kids Don’t Have Their Own Space
When children don’t have their own bedroom, they may feel like they don’t have a space to express themselves. For example, a child might have to compromise on room decorations with their sibling who has a very different sense of style from them.
Another challenge that comes along with sharing a room is a lack of privacy. Whether your kid wants alone time to decompress or feels uncomfortable getting dressed in a room with others, sharing a room with their sibling may not be the best option.
Taking privacy into consideration is especially important if your children are teenagers going through puberty. This transitional time in a teenager’s life comes along with physical and emotional changes that create discomfort in one's own body.
Trouble Distinguishing Playtime From Bedtime
Since they play together during the day, siblings may have a hard time understanding they cannot play and talk to each other at night, especially if they are young. One solution to them wanting to play at night would be to keep most toys in a different room, like a playroom or the living room.
As for your kids chatting late into the night, try to set a designated “quiet time.” For example, if you leave your kids’ room at 7:30 p.m. and say “goodnight’, tell them they can talk until 7:45 p.m. This gives them time to chat, but it also ensures they go to bed at a reasonable hour. These issues may only arise for younger children, as pre-teens and teenagers can distinguish daytime from bedtime more easily.
Sleep May Be Disrupted
If your kids are light sleepers, sleeping in a room with someone else could be disruptive. If one child uses the bathroom in the middle of the night and the other hears them and wakes up, this could cause frequent disruptions in the children’s sleep cycle. Also, if one of your kids has to wake up earlier for school than the other, this could reduce the amount of sleep your child gets every night.
Additional Considerations for Siblings Sharing a Bedroom
Is there a big age difference between the siblings?
With siblings far apart in age, room sharing may not be as successful. In different stages of their life, they likely have different interests. This disconnect could lead to more conflict between siblings, which isn’t ideal when sharing a bedroom.
Do the kids have similar sleep schedules?
If your kids are far apart in age or attend different schools, school wake-up times may not be similar, making it harder to share a room without disruption. For instance, it might not be the best idea to have your fourth grader and seventh grader share a room, since middle school typically begins hours earlier than elementary school.
Do your kids get along?
Siblings may be more excited to share a room if they already spend a lot of time together, have similar interests, and enjoy each other’s company. On the other hand, if your children fight or bicker often, room sharing may create even more of a headache for you as a parent.
Is the room big enough for more than one person?
When deciding whether to have your children share a bedroom, consider the size of the room. If the space is small and cramped, siblings will have even less privacy, and may not have the opportunity to have their own side of the room.
Are the siblings opposite genders?
While siblings of opposite genders sharing a room is legal, you may want to consider other circumstances before making this choice. If your children are young, you can probably put a boy and a girl in a room together. However, as your kids grow into pre-teens and teenagers, separating them into different rooms may be wise. As they experience emotional and physical changes, getting dressed around and living in a room with a sibling of the opposite gender could be uncomfortable. So, if your son and daughter are sharing a room, try to give them their own spaces as they approach the pre-teen years.
Are the children twins?
Being a twin is an experience unlike any other because you began in the womb with your sibling and have gone through stages of life around the same time, such as starting Kindergarten or losing your first tooth. Experiencing life in a tandem affects twins psychologically, creating a deep emotional connection. So, if your children are twins, they may feel more comfortable sharing a bedroom than having their own since they’re so used to being together.
Suggestions for Successful Room Sharing
In many situations, families are not given the choice to have separate rooms for each child, especially in large families with more than a few kids. So, if your kids are sharing a bedroom, here are some tips to make the most of it.
- Establish a nighttime routine – Routines are extremely important for children because it demonstrates consistency and shows them what to expect. Establishing a nighttime routine with your kids who share a room will separate their quiet bedtime from daytime when they can talk and play.
- Use a sound machine – Sound machines with sounds such as white noise not only soothe you when you’re falling asleep, but they can also prevent a child from waking up if their sibling wakes up in the night and makes noise.
- Establish rules and boundaries – Establishing rules and boundaries is helpful so the siblings each have their own space and belongings within the room.
- Try a bunk bed – A bunk bed can allow more privacy because the kids can’t see each other when in bed. Their beds can be their own little nook in the room that is just theirs.
- Communicate with your kids – Make sure you talk with your kids to ensure they feel comfortable with room sharing. It might be a bit of a transition, but with open communication, they will hopefully adjust over time.
At what age should kids have their own room?
If possible, kids should have their own room when they are around the age of nine or 10, which is the start of the pre-teen and pre-pubescent years. As children become teenagers and go through puberty, personal space and privacy become very important.
Is it healthy for kids to share a room?
Yes, having your kids share a bedroom can be healthy for them. Children can learn to share and respect others when sharing a room with their siblings. They also have the potential to create a deep sibling bond with each other.
How long should a boy and a girl share a room?
Our recommendation is that children only share a room with their sibling of the opposite gender until they approach the pre-teen years and begin experiencing physical and emotional changes that mark the start of puberty.
How many kids should share a room?
While there is no national law specifically stating how many people should share a room, our recommendation is to have two children in one bedroom. This way, the distractions or issues that can occur in a shared bedroom are not multiplied with, say, four siblings in one room. So, if you have space in your house to have no more than two children per bedroom, that is ideal.
Is it important for kids to have their own bedroom?
While it is not necessary to give your child their own room, kids who have their own bedroom have a private space where they can express themselves and store their belongings. Depending on your child and their needs, a private space may be really important for them, while other kids may not mind sharing a bedroom with their sibling.
What are the disadvantages of sharing a bedroom?
The disadvantages of siblings sharing a room are a lack of self-expression, a lack of privacy, difficulty distinguishing between playtime and bedtime, and the potential for disrupted sleep. Take these into consideration when deciding whether or not your kids should share a room.
It is important to consider the pros and cons of room sharing in the context of your unique family. While bedroom sharing can teach siblings valuable lessons and be helpful for parents, kids may dislike the lack of privacy and might not sleep as much.
If you want to try putting your kids in a shared bedroom, go for it. You can always separate your children into different bedrooms if it doesn’t work, and if your kids are sharing a room, there are ways to make it the most comfortable for them.
- “Scholastic Bookshelf: Sharing for Kids”. Scholastic. Last modified October 13, 2022.
- Malti, Tina., Peplak, Joanna., Zhang, Linlin. “The Development of Respect in Children and Adults”. Society for Research in Child Development. 2020.
- “Is It Legal? Opposite Gender Siblings Sharing a Room”. Find Law. Last modified November 11, 2019.
- Wood, Katie. “The Psychology of Raising Twins and Multiples”. Twins Research Australia. 2018.