Solo or shared bedrooms for children - which offers more benefits? Obviously, each has its pros and cons. Not all families will have the choice though due to space limitation or by the simple fact of having an only child. When such choice is available however, it would be best to remember some practical things to help in deciding.
Pros and Cons of Solo Rooms for Children
Privacy is something children appreciate as they grow older. It is the very thing offered by a solo bedroom to its occupant. However, it will not always be fun being alone especially for young children.
A personal bedroom can serve as an early training ground towards responsibility. Having no one else to delegate the task of keeping it in order usually encourages a child to do his or her share in maintaining it. Of course, the responsibility given to children in maintaining the room should be progressive, commensurate to age and physical ability.
On the extreme end stands the possibility that a child will not attend to this responsibility because of the thinking that he or she has no co-occupant to consider. Parents should teach children to be responsible in this aspect with or without anyone to share the room with. Such training is something they can bring into adulthood which is very beneficial once they start living on their own.
Pros and Cons of Shared Bedrooms for Children
Sharing bedrooms create deeper bonds with siblings because of the constancy of togetherness from waking up to sleeping time. The set-up makes it possible for sisters or brothers to talk or even share secrets which they dare not share with others. Many adults can still remember the night whispers and giggles during childhood days when their own parents have ordered lights out and sleep remains elusive.
Sharing a bedroom with a sibling also encourages children to be less self-centered and selfish. They become more adaptable and flexible to situations that require them to share. Life is full of compromises and sharing a room early on teaches them to deal with the reality that they will not always have their way.
Sharing rooms however can be particularly trying for children in need of some privacy for specific situations they go through in life. Many prefer to cry and not be seen by a curious sibling. Still, strong sibling support is always beneficial.
There may also be a tendency to dump the responsibility of maintaining the room to the more responsible child. Children should be taught that they need to do their share at home and that starts with their own rooms. Respect for others is a virtue that can be learned in sharing rooms. Either that or the exact opposite of it, depending on the child's upbringing.
Our own home originally had only two rooms upstairs but we decided to divide one room into two to accommodate my son and youngest daughter. The gender reason is of course pretty obvious since we know that they would definitely require more privacy as they grew up. That set-up is not quite operational right now since my two younger children still prefer to sleep in our room.
Our present sleeping set-up is the closest they'll have to a shared bedroom with a sibling. I have to admit though that it works for all of us at present. We consume less electricity and we get to share our stories with each other before going to sleep. They are also trained to keep their sleeping paraphernalia upon waking up.
That said, I know that the time that they will prefer using their own rooms is very near. Just like what happened to my eldest child, I will have to contend with adolescent secrets and adult independence. For now, let them be my babies for a while longer.