When Should Boys and Girls No Longer Share a Bedroom?
Take time to create a space that is special for the children, and gives them some personal ownership.
There is an informal debate about whether or not opposite-sexed siblings should be allowed to share a bedroom and, if so, for how long. There are as many opinions on this topic as there are people giving them, so we decided to ask an expert to help clear up the confusion.
We interviewed Emily Kircher-Morris, MA, MEd, PLPC, and a provisionally licensed professional counselor in St. Louis that specializes in working with gifted and high-achieving children, to see what her opinion on the controversy was; we wanted her to shed some light on a common scenario for many households.
Q: At what age do you suggest separating boys' and girls' bedrooms?
A: There isn't a specific age cutoff that requires that opposite-sex children separate rooms. Parents should monitor where their children are, developmentally, and make decisions from there.
Often, once children are in school, they begin to become aware of the need for modesty and may feel uncomfortable changing in front of an opposite-gender sibling; however, accommodations can be made for this, and kids can change in other areas or at separate times. Yet, by the time children reach puberty, it will be much more difficult for them to feel comfortable sharing and room, and the need for privacy and space should be respected as much as possible.
Q: What factors should parents look for when determining if they should separate the kids?
A: If there is any concern that a child is acting out in a sexually aggressive way, it is important that the children be separated. If one or both of the children have ever been sexually abused, they may have difficulty understanding the clear boundaries associated with privacy.
If a child expresses concern about privacy, families will benefit from taking those concerns seriously and work together to find an appropriate solution.