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.
Keren Perles, contributor at Education.com, provides some valuable insight regarding the issue of sibling bedroom-sharing. Perles cites the parenting guru and psychotherapist Alyson Schafer, who says that bedroom-sharing helps kids learn to cooperate better by working through conflicts and delegating tasks. Siblings often bond with one another naturally in a more confined space. By sharing a greater quantity of life experiences in the same area, siblings mature together and learn how to manage those challenges that stem from cohabitation. Perles explains that overcoming these conflicts will prove invaluable when the child becomes an adult and encounters roommates, spouses or other living situations that call for cohabitation.
Although there are many positive benefits that stem from bedroom-sharing among siblings, it is not always easy to arrange. Since children are often very different in their personalities, it can be difficult for some siblings to mutually develop peaceful solutions to their conflicts. Thankfully, the experts have concocted some effective methods for parents to use that will help children learn to live in relative peace. Schafer encourages 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.
Lauren Jimeson, contributor at Babble.com, also gives some great advice for parents on sibling room-sharing. Jimeson’s two daughters share a room, so she has compiled an ample list of useful tips concerning successful sibling cohabitation. Jimeson encourages a gradual assimilation of the children into a room together. For example, before the birth of her second child, Jimeson discussed the change with her other daughter to prepare her for the transition. When her daughter was born, Jimeson would then bring the newborn into her daughter’s room and get them used to being with each other in the same space. This helped to naturally make that transition more effective. Although Jimeson provides specific boundaries in the room for each child, she also promotes the use of a common area, which is a special place for the girls to play with their shared toys, and sibling interaction is especially encouraged.
Jo Harris, at Kidspot.com, also provides a brief and highly useful rundown of specific conflicts for children of different ages and how to effectively resolve those conflicts. 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.
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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