Boy/Girl Siblings Sharing a Bedroom

Archived Q&A and Reviews


When should boy and girl stop sharing a room?

June 2008

My kids have always shared a room. They are now ages 9 (boy) & 6.5 (girl). We thought we would separate them this summer, but whenever we bring it up, both kids beg us not to give them their own rooms. We are not in any hurry mainly b/c we use the 3rd bedroom as our study and will have to reconfigure the living room into a living room/study when the kids get separate rooms. Is there any general wisdom about the age at which two kids of different genders should get their own roooms? I'm happy to let them share until they ask otherwise, but perhaps someone knows better than I? Thanks, Two Kids, Small House

I have a colleague with 3 children, the eldest a girl, the middle child a boy, and the youngest a girl. They all slept in the same bedroom. At age 13, the eldest moved into her own room, finally needing a little space, while the other children were about 10 and 8 at that time. This worked well for them, as the children preferred to be in the same room together for all these years. Individual families might have different preferences, of course. So I'd go with what the siblings AND the parents are most comfortable with overall in each situation and not worry about any set ''rules'' or opinions. kb

Truly your children really love to be around each other. They will let you know when they need space. Later in life they will be there for each other, which is what we all want for our children. An older sister who shared a room with her brother till she went off to college...we love each other dearly now. Felicia

my kids, now ages 13 (daughter) and 15 (son) shared a room until 10 and 12. when they were young they loved having someone in the room with them at night and waking up with someone there. as they got older they spent hours laughing and telling silly bed time stories to one another. then they transitioned to sharing their thoughts, ideas, and dreams (silly ones of course). now, 13 and 15 they are really close, share chores, help each other with homework, and ask each other for advice. it's healthy for kids to learn to share and bond at a young age and sharing a room is one way of doing it. nancy

I did a survey on this subject about six months ago, asking every single family I knew with a 10-12 year old boy and a 8-10 year old daughter about their bedroom arrangement. I was pleasantly surprised to find that of the 9 or 10 families, only one (actually that one had a 13 year old boy) did NOT share a room. No one had current plans to change that configuration. My kids, now 12 and 9, have two rooms between them. Even though they often want to get away from each other during the day, they want to continue sleeping in the same room and use the other room as their ''office''. The ''office'' has a bed in it for whenever they are ready, but I see no signs of their readiness to give up what they call the security and comfort of having the other there at night. Now our new big dog has joined them, and all three are like bugs in a rug. I'll wait for their cue.

i have a boy and a girl who always had their own rooms. They are 5 years apart. They are very close and when my daughter was 3 she wanted to share my son's room. He loved the idea and we moved her into his room. It stayed that way until just last year when they were 12 and 7. We waited until they decided they wanted some private space. Even now, she will sneak into his room at night and sleep on his bottom bunk occasionally. He says he doesn't like it, but i think he's just trying to be cool, because sometimes I hear him asking her to come in. anon

They're brother and sister--it isn't necessary to separate them until they wish for it. What's appropriate is what they feel comfortable with. Anna

We have faced this situation twice. When our older two children were 8 (our daughter) and 6 (our son) our daughter started dressing in the closet. We spoke to her about it and she said she needed her privacy. We moved her to her own room. She was thrilled and her younger brother was devastated and lonely. He has recovered now 10 years later but spent many nights sleeping in a sleeping bag in our room or hers for a while after she moved out. Recently our 3rd child a daughter now 8 complained that she did not think she should have to listen to baby beluga and the like on the cd player in the room she shared with her 4 year old brother. We moved her into her own room, and she decided she was very lonely but her little brother was thrilled to have his own space. She often sleeps in her old bed in her brother's room when she is lonely. Moral to the story? I don't know that there is an absolute age to do this, but if neither of them wants to be separated and they are appropriate with each other, leave them be. I suspect from my experience that 8 for girls is a time when they start to get more aware of their bodies and so might want more privacy. My advice is to wait until one or both of them suggests the separation. Elizabeth

I think they should do what they want. If the want to stay in the room together, fine. I see no reason why they should be separated. Advice

5 year old boy/girl twins sharing a room - bunk beds?

May 2008

We are considering getting our almost 5 year old twins bunkbeds for their room. They share a room and have a hard time going right to bed at night...talkng, playing, etc. So, right now, my son goes into our bed when it's bedtime and my husband moves him into his room once they are both asleep. So, my question is...would bunk beds be a bad idea? Does anyone that have bunkbeds with 2 kids in the same room have problems with the kids going to sleep? Any other suggestions on how to have boy/girl twins share a room and conserve space and limit the bedtime playing would be much appreciated!

Hi, We decided to purchase bunk beds as a temporary solution until our twins(51/2) are able to have their own room. We've had them for about 5 months and we have some continued bumpiness surrounding the sharing of the lower bunk to read stories before bed. We actually move our daughter to the upper bunk if she falls asleep. At times I want to cuddle with her and the top bunk seems prohibitive so I allow her to sleep head to toe with my son. He actually will protest if it's more than once in awhile. All in all, I think it's a great space-saver and I try to visit and make the top bunk fun, too. Hope this helps. Anon anon

We put our then-4 & 2 year-olds in bunkbeds last year. We were living in a two-bedroom while looking for a home. The beds worked wonderfully (brought them to our new home and set them up as part of our 'guest suite'). There was some transition, but they settled into the new pattern pretty quickly.

Another thought re: space...can you give them in uthe master bedroom? If I had a 'do-over' then I probably would have put the girls & bunkbeds in there (my parents did the same for my sister and I -- put us in bunkbeds at 3 & 5 in the master bedroom to maximize our play space when we were living in a small townhouse waiting for our home to be built). They would have had a playroom space (the master was pretty big) and sleeping space. Instead, the rest of the house became their playroom and I was always cleaning up. -anon

We have a 4 1/2 year old and a 22 month old. 6 months ago they started sharing a room. The baby still sleeps in his crib, and it's situated next to the older one's junior loft. It took about a week for the two to get settled since the younger one still wakes up sometime in the middle of the night but that's all it took. We read books to them at the same time on the couch after they have changed their clothes and brushed teeth. After the books, we bring them to their room and kiss them goodnight; sometimes my husband sits in the chair for a few minutes while they settle down. often, he just turns off the light and they fall asleep on their own. we've never had a problem with them keeping each other awake. we had reservations about putting them in the same room but now we think it's wonderful! and i think they love being so close to each other. we have plenty of rooms but shared is best

Today's (6/3) Science Times in the NY Times had an article about bunk beds---tens of thousands of kids fall out of them and get injured. Check it out. NYT reader

Opposite sex siblings, 5 & 7, sharing a room

May 2007

My 7.5 year old daughter and 5 year old son share a bedroom and it has worked out fairly well so far. However, I am beginning to wonder at what age do opposite sex kids need their own rooms. Our home has only 2 bedrooms, and we have considered moving, but recently decided to keep our son in pre-school for an extra year, so it may not work financially for at least another year. How long can they share a room before they start to need space from each other? mom in a small house

I think that the worst thing you could do would be to bring extra stress into your family life by over-extending financially on a new home just to have another bedroom! One thing you could consider doing is creating two distinct spaces in the room, even if it's a small room, with curtains and/or free standing screens and/or furniture, then each child would have visual privacy and a little piece of space to make their own. Anon

My son and daughter shared a room until they were 10 and 6. I think we were at the limit for their tolerance of the situation at that point. We moved to a bigger house and they each have their own room. Now they love their quiet time in their rooms. The benefit of having shared a room for so long is that they are very close and don't completely shut themselves away from the rest of the family all the time. It is just good for them to have their own space to chill out, especially when they have friends over. I think you can eke out a few more years with the room sharing.

I have three kids & two of them have always shared a room. They are a year apart & now are 10(girl) & 9(boy). It is NOW time for them to have their own room, believe me. But we can't do it, so there they are stuck, annoying each other. They share a bunk bed & my son is on the lower which causes problems when her friends come over because they'll want to sit on it (it is a futon that turns into a couch) & he throws a fit. He also throws a fit at the idea of moving to the top which my daughter has even made a list of all the pros about the move. We have a teenager who is too old to share with his younger bro so that wouldn't work. Anyway, I say all this to say if you can, get them their own room by 8 yrs old, probably no later. Good Luck!!

My father is appalled son & daughter share a room

January 2006

My son (5) and daughter (6) are 14 months apart and have shared a room, sleeping in a double bed, since we moved them out of their cribs 4 years ago. We live in a home with enough bedrooms for each to have their own, but this arrangement seems to be working very well for our family. The kids enjoy being together, they are very close and it also makes our bedtime story reading and snuggling so easy. They are very aware that they are different genders but are not modest and we don't see this as an issue. We plan to move them to their own rooms when we feel it is appropriate and are happy to have the option. The problem -- my father (their Grandfather) is appalled that we would have them share a room still. Any advice that we could share with him or that would convince us to change our plans would be welcomed from both families who have kept their kids together and those who have chosen not to. Is there an issue with different gender kids sharing a room? At what age is it best to separate boys and girls?

If your children are happy, don't worry about your father's opinion. Keep in mind that most children around the world successfully grow up in very close quarters with their siblings of both genders, and kids are able to carve out privacy and space for themselves as they need it.

We have a girl, a boy and a girl (two years and three years apart, respectively) and, at 10 1/2, our son has always shared a room (but not a bed--we have bunk beds) with one or the other of his sisters. He started asking for his own room only about a year ago. We have not had enough space in our house for three separate kids' bedrooms, but we are currently adding on an additional room to be ready in time for my son's eleventh birthday. In the meantime, my son and 7-year-old daughter respect each other's privacy when dressing and respect each other's space. They negotiate room ownership when friends come over to play. They have a close relationship and still enjoy chatting with each other at night (if the younger one is still awake when the older goes to bed).

It probably would have been ideal to separate them last year, but the promise of separate bedrooms has been sufficient balm to soothe the occasional privacy tensions.

I should add that, while my oldest daughter does have her own room, she isn't terribly exclusive about her space. Our family culture is one of open doors and a lot of togetherness, so sharing rooms is very comfortable. mom who's been there

I just read a great book, Our Babies Ourselves, which discusses baby-rearing in different cultures. According to the book, Western culture has sexualized sleeping. Sleeping with family members is common in other cultures and doesn't lead to raised eyebrows like it does here. On a personal note, my brother (five years younger than me) and I (female) enjoyed sleeping together in each other's twin beds probably in the timeframe of when I was 7-9 and he was 2-4. Knowing how much I enjoy snuggling as an adult, I think it's almost cruel that we expect kids to sleep *alone*. anon

Hi, Our situation is different, not a boy and a girl, but 2 boys, still I thought our experience might be of interest. Our 2 sons, age 9 and 11 have had the option of separate bedrooms ever since they were young. Yet they opted to sleep in the same room, in bunkbeds. Finally, after many years, they expressed an interest in separate bedrooms, so my husband and I worked many a weekend to fix up the spare bedroom. This extra bedroom was smaller, so it went to the youngest son. He selected his bed (queen size), the paint, sheets, shelves and other furniture. He did a great job and the room looks great. So, do they now sleep in separate rooms? No, they happily sleep in the same (the newer)room, in the same (queen size) bed! At least before they were in different beds. And the bedroom they originally slept in all these years now sits empty. We figure when they are ready they'll chose separate rooms. I can't imagine it will be much longer....but they are happy so what else can we do? Patiently waiting

Hurray for you for fostering a close sibling relationship. My son and daughter (almost 5 and 7) share a room and have their whole lives but not a bed. They have bunk beds. We read books to them at the same time. Mostly they view the books' pictures from their respective bunks. Sometimes we gather on an oversized bean bag chair in their room. None of their friends or mine think it is odd that they're together even though we have two spare bedrooms.

I never thought of them sharing a bed, however since you brought up the topic, I would weigh in that I would not have put my kids in the same bed regardless of their gender. I feel strongly that they need their individual space for health and privacy reasons. My son has dust mite allergies and to make sure he is not bothered by them I sealed up his mattress and pillow, keep stuffed animals off of it and wash his bedding in hot hot water every couple of days. But allergy aside, I think that while I have created a safe ''togetherness'' environment for them in their shared room, I have honored their individuality by letting each spread out on their beds, choose their own styles of sheets, and get up at different times. My daughter likes to put on her clothes in the morning under the sheets to stay warm. As of last year, she does not like her brother seeing her naked- if they did not have their own beds, she would not have this warm and cozy option. I think that you will soon start to see the habits of your children change which will make the bed sharing less ideal. Also, in the past year my daughter has become an avid reader and has a reading light that she flips on once the overhead light goes off and she reads herself to bed. My son has always wanted the room dark and this development would not have sat well with him had they shared a bed (luckly he does not notice the little allumination from the book light). I love that my children want to be together. I will keep them together until they request a change. I think you should continue to foster their shared room experience by getting bunk beds for them. It seems premature to separate them altogether. Anyway, that was a long-winded way of letting you know what works for us. Good luck with your decision making process. Pillow talk

Tell your father that someone replied to your question who has a 7 yo boy and a 10 yo girl sharing the same room. Because of space, we do not have a choice right now and it works out OK. They have bunk beds, though. If it works for you, do it. Jennifer

Just to let you know that many of us out there encourage emotional closeness between family members by permitting our children to share a bedroom for as long as they choose, even if there is another room. Many families have a ''family bed'', too. My son, 9, and my daughter, 7, enjoy the security and pleasure of each other's company at night. They are not shy about their nakedness, bathe together for fun, and do not have ''sexual'' feelings for each other. They have friends with the same set- up.
Why all the fuss?