Siblings sharing a room has benefits

Mar 30, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. ET

Of course we want to give the best to our kids. The best start in life, the best nutrition, the best education, the best opportunities, the best parenting. How does that play into sleeping arrangements at home?

If you have more than one child, does that translate to each child having his or her own room?

For the most part, if a family has the available space, there’s a room for each child. But while the decision to have your children share a room may be one of necessity more than anything else, there are definite benefits to kids sharing a room. Your room-sharing children may be better equipped for sharing in the “real” world, well beyond the walls of that shared room.

Sharing, respect -- and reassurance

Potential lessons:

  • sharing
  • compromise
  • negotiation
  • respect (earning and giving!)

Sharing a room can be about more than making best use of a smaller housing footprint. Sharing a room can help your children learn -- and relearn -- that toddler lesson on sharing. Siblings who share a room have to negotiate and compromise on closet space, bookshelves, sleep schedules -- and even just breathing the same air. They learn that respect is more likely received when it’s also given, and that sometimes it’s nice to have someone else around.

When a room is shared, a child is reminded -- constantly -- that it’s not all about him. Sharing a room is more than sharing in that sense: It’s reinforcing the lesson that sharing and respect for others is not just something we do out in the world, it’s something we do at home, too.


At some point, your room-sharing children may declare the need for greater privacy. This does not necessarily mean it’s time to remodel or move. It could mean negotiating when each child gets that alone time in the room, finding some other space in the house for doing homework without interruption or defining quiet time each day for quiet pursuits, such as reading. Again, the sharing lesson is reinforced, as is respect and compromise.

Thinking ahead

Your adolescent children may declare (amid room-sharing conflict) that when she grows up, she will never share a room. If she can manage that, good for her. Economic reality (as well as romantic partnerships or even lab partners in chemistry class) means that sharing space is going to happen. Better to know early how to share space and head off conflicts than learn in a much harder, higher stakes way later. Whether it’s a college dorm room, a first apartment out of college, the tiny starter home in early marriage or even the corporate workspace, sharing space is something we all need to learn to do, and do well.

Having your kids share a room may not always run smoothly: There will still be sibling rivalry, and you may need to step in now and again. But sharing a room can teach your kids solid life lessons around respect, negotiation and compromise they will use well into adulthood.

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