How to Keep the Peace When Your Kids Share a Room
There's bound to be sibling conflict when your children share a room, but there are things you can do to reduce it.
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Secure their treasures. We want to teach our kids to share, but they should also have a place where their prized possessions (such as a model they built or a favorite book) are just theirs. Have a locked cabinet where each child can store their treasures. This is especially important when one of the siblings is a toddler or young child who may not understand boundaries.
Designate the bedroom a quiet space. Sometimes one child needs more downtime than the other. Defining the bedroom as a quiet place and relegating louder activity to family spaces can go a long way toward a peaceful home.
Create separate spaces. The most common reason kids have a hard time when they share a room is privacy. Set up play tents or bed canopies with curtains, so each child can feel they have their own cocoon. With older siblings or siblings of different genders who need even more privacy, divide the room in half using bookcases or even a sheet to create a temporary wall.
Validate their feelings. If your kids want privacy, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong. Your children shouldn’t be made to feel disloyal to each other if they want space. Let them know it’s okay.
Work to solve conflicts. If kids are having an irreconcilable difference, some family counseling might be in order. If you have teenagers who are at each other’s throats, counseling can help to uncover the underlying issues. It can also help them develop the ability to communicate safely and express their needs.
If all else fails, separate them. If you absolutely have to, consider giving the living room to one of the kids, or the parents, until the living situation changes (the older child goes to college or you move to a larger space).
Dr. Markham also urges parents to be flexible—you’re not going to be able to set up the situation and leave it until your kids move out or you’re able to move to a home or apartment with more rooms. Communicate frequently with your children and make adjustments according to what works best for them. And remember, sharing a room is teaching your children to be resilient and adaptable—and they’ll likely grow up to be better sleepers.