Should siblings share bedrooms?

Jun 2, 2010 at 11:15 a.m. ET

It's common for parents to have young siblings share bedrooms. But there comes a time when kids start to need their own space. How do you know when it's time to separate the kids? How is it different for same sex siblings vs opposite sex siblings?

Brother and sister in bedroom

One child per bedroom?

That might seem like the norm, but plenty of families opt to have kids share bedrooms. It's not just same-sex siblings sharing either ... parents are having their kids share room as a way to save space, devote more room to family activities and more.

"My Chicago family of four lives shares a 1600 sq.ft. 2 bed/2bath condo, and much to my mother's horror, my kids, Maya (11) and Zack (9) have always shared a bedroom. This is price of home ownership in our fabulous neighborhood, where the food is yummy, people are cool, and the kids can walk to a great public school," says Jacqueline Edelberg, author of How to Walk to School: Blueprint for a Neighborhood School Renaissance.

Edelberg says that she isn't worried about how it's impacting her kids ... especially since it means they are pretty darn close. "When my husband worries that the kids are going to develop a complex, I think about how 98% of the world's population lives. Entire villages live in apartments this small! How did we get to this idea that everyone, or every activity, needs a fully designated space? Can't multi-taskers multi-share," says Edelberg.

If your kids are sharing space though you may be wondering how long it will be okay for ... and how to let them be individuals in a single space. Here's what you need to know.

When to split them up

Do you have kids sharing a room? The pull to separate them can be so strong. You can't help but wonder if sharing space is healthy, good and positive. The good news? It can be all those things, since kids -- like Edelberg's -- often end up being closer to each other when they've shared space. However, if your child is asking for their own space, then it is probably time for a change.

quotation mark open Personalizing each child's designated area helps create separate havens within the same room. quotation mark close

"My two sons (6 and 3) share a room and bunk beds. My six year old shows no hurry to be on his own. He HATES to do anything on his own. Needing company is definitely an aspect of his innate personality. We have a 4 bedroom house and use one room as an office, which I love, one as a guest room, one for parents and one for kids (with bunk beds). When one of my kids asks for their own room and we have to completely reorganize the room divvy, I'll do it, but I am going to wait until one of them asks. Just like my mom waited until I asked," says The Way of the Toddler author Leta Hamilton, who was nine when she asked for her own room.

However others say that opposite sex siblings should be separated long before puberty hits. "I suggest that age 8 be the absolute cut off. But it's not a great idea from the get-go. It can create unhealthy attachment and fear of being alone," says Jane Fendelman, psychotherapist and founder of the Phoenix Rising Universe City training site.

How to separate the space

No room to move the kids into separate rooms? That's okay! Kids can have their individual spaces in a shared room too. Here are 3 ways to do it!

Divide the Room

Interior designer Jeanette Simpson, who wrote From Interior Design Intern to Employee: How to be "Keeper," says that furniture such as back-to-back desks or book cases can create the effect of a divided room.


If individuality is something you want to honor, consider painting the room two colors, says Simpson. She suggests painting the top half of the room one color and the bottom another. "Create a unified look with matching furniture and bedspreads but allow for individuality with artwork and accessories," says Simpson.


"Personalizing each child's designated area helps create separate havens within the same room. Use totally different themes or motifs (i.e., fireman and astronaut) for visual separation but complementary color schemes (both red-blue-gold) to unify." Using one space to appeal to two kids is tricky, but it can totally be done.

what do you think?

Tell us: How do you feel about siblings sharing a bedroom? Comment below! Check out our message boards to hear what other moms are saying about siblings sharing a room.

related video

Exotic Teen Bedroom for Two

See the fantastic makeover of a bedroom shared by two teenage sisters. This video is part of reDesign show hosted by Kenneth Brown - an acclaimed designer and once a frequent guest on HGTV, Kenneth is known to viewers for his inventive yet impeccably tasteful take on design. The result is virtually no-holds barred interior design.

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