Boy/Girl Siblings: When Do They Need More Privacy?

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  • Kids Growing Up: Age Appropriateness?

    (6 replies)

    Hello Network! I have 2 toddlers, a boy and a girl. It's easy to keep thinking of them as my babies, and then all of a sudden realize they are growing into little people... which leads me to wonder... what age appropriate limits are sneaking up on me?

    1) What age should little boys be going into the boys changing rooms by themselves, at, say, swim schools?

    2) They do bath together and love it. At what age does this not become appropriate for a boy and a girl?

    3) They also share a bedroom and (usually) love it. At what age should they have their own rooms?

    I realize there are probably no "right" answers to my questions above, but I'm curious what other people's experiences were, or what were your cues I should look for?

    Thank you!

    I think the answers are different for each family, so you will need to figure out what works for you. For changing rooms, age six is pretty common as the posted age at which kids should go into the changing room for their own gender (and yes, that means sometimes they go on their own, but at places like the Y, there are boys' and girls' changing rooms that are separate from adult spaces, and there are also small family changing rooms if you aren't comfortable sending your child alone). In a situation where changing rooms are all individual, it could be whenever your child is trustworthy on changing himself on his own (probably also around six for my kids). For baths, my early elementary child stopped wanting to do shared baths, and that was fine. Logistically, we also stopped bathing our kids on the same nights at some point because of their sports and activity schedules. Go by your kids' comfort levels. For shared rooms--mine will be sharing for the duration, since we only have two bedrooms! If you have the option of splitting them up, I'd do it whenever one wants more independence, which likely varies by kid. Mine are preschool and elementary and still enjoy sharing a room. Guessing by middle school it will be tougher, and we will probably put up curtains to create more privacy at that point.

    I agree that this could vary a lot by child and so I think the best approach is to let your children tell you when they are ready for a change. Kids are usually pretty vocal about stating their preferences. If you have a kid you know is more reticent, you could pay closer attention to non-verbal signals (i.e., kid doesn't seem as happy to take bath with sibling as before) and then ask if they're ready for a change. For going into a changing room alone, I'd say the kid isn't ready until they can dress/undress independently and usually not lose track of their stuff. Like, my four year old could change out of her swimsuit and put on her clothes by herself, but she'd probably just walk out of the locker room without her bag when done, or would forget her towel, etc. So I wouldn't consider her ready for that level of independence yet. 

    Our gym has a family locker, so children 3 & over are required to use that locker room (with their adult, of course). But our swim school has a sign that says children 5 & over should go into their own locker room. I'm usually by myself and I don't feel comfortable sending my 6 year old son into a locker room by himself, so I ignore that sign and he changes in the stalls and I try my best to be mindful of others changing and not let my son "linger" in the area. 

    I have boy/girl twins who are 6.5 and they do still bathe together from time to time, but usually they end up taking their own showers because of time or practicality. We haven't come across any situations where I would feel inclined to tell them they have to separate. 

    My older kids all share a room. (6.5 boy, 6.5 girl, 4 boy) We have space, but they prefer to be together and it's been fine. My twins still sleep in the same bed actually (queen sized) and I think they are pretty close to not being able to do that anymore. But it's not a boy/girl thing, it's a one kid likes to sleep sideways and kick the other problem. And the one who has been kicked usually ends up in my bed! 

    I try to take my queues from my kids and if I'm sensing like they need some space from each other for whatever reason, I try to accomodate that.

    As another poster stated, it will be different for each family, but for us the changing room thing happened around age 7 (6 just seemed too *little* for me).  Our kids (older boy, younger girl) are 4 years apart and took baths together until our son was about 7.  They initially had separate rooms but at ages 3 & 7, respectively, they said they wanted to share a room with a bunk bed and after several months of pleading, we did it and they loved it.  That lasted about 6 years, until our son turned 13 - he moved back into his own room for that birthday - at which point both kids wanted space, and fortunately we had it.  If they hadn't been able to have separate rooms, it would have been OK, we would have gotten 2 twins and gotten some kind of room separator.  Good luck!

    It so depends on the child and the maturity of each. Girls mature faster so depending on which one is older might make a difference too.  Changing room I started at 6 years old if it is safe, though if I don't feel safe then he goes with me and we use a stall.  Safety first, but I think at 6yo the kid is relatively ready. 

    We stopped baths together when my son was 5 and daughter turned 3.  At two she was still a baby and it was ok, but by 3 she was potty trained and very interested in my son's penis and he matured a bit by 5 too and understood that girls are different down there.  So, we stopped joined baths at this time.  

    Bedroom sharing is not an issue.  I have 7 and 5 year old now who share a room and they are going to share it for several more years.  I shared a room with my brother till high school.  It is not a big deal.  Kids sleep in pj's or undies and change in bathroom, but otherwise I think different gender siblings share room all the time and it is not a big deal. 

    I have a boy (10) and a girl (almost 8). They still run around the house together naked but it is waning. And as parent of a little girl, I implore those of you with boys to respect locker rooms' stated age limits when it comes to bringing your opposite-gender child in the locker room with you. My daughter, like many girls, was conscious at an early age of gender differences and felt embarrassed when a boy walks in with his mom - she freezes, grabs a towel, and runs into a stall. I had to let my boy change in the men's locker room at the Y by himself at an early age because I am sensitive to girls' body images. He was fine with it and it teaches him to follow rules that are there for others' comfort and right to privacy.