How To Prepare A New Big Sibling For Sharing Their Bedroom
There comes a time for some families when either a new edition to the family or a changing family dynamic makes it necessary for an older sibling share their bedroom with another child. This is something that many families try to avoid, but it does have to happen in some cases.
This can lead to a lot of issues amongst the family, but there are things that can be done to make it easier for everyone.
• Acknowledge the Issue
Never try to belittle the fact that a person that has had a room to themselves for some time is being told they now have to share. Dismissing the fact that this is not entirely fair does nothing to alleviate the problem. There are going to be negative feelings associated with the transition and those feelings should not be dismissed.
• Ask Them What Can Be Done
It is most common that the parents try to guess at what to do to help and there is no way for them to know what can be done. Asking both siblings what can reasonably be done is the way to go. Obviously, the first request may be to not move the sibling in and that is not possible, but things such as some private time may be requested and lead to a dialog that can solve problems. Until the parents know what the main issues are, there is no way to fix them.
• Make Clear Rules
Once it has been established what each sibling has the biggest issues with, some rules should be laid down. This is best to be done in the beginning and the rules can be added to or altered as issues arise. The important part is that the rules be clear and not ambiguous. “Be nice” is not a clear rule. Setting a division in the room and telling each sibling to stay on their side of the room is a clear rule.
When a child comes up to you with an issue, stop what you are doing and hear them out. Whether it seems like something small to you is not important, it is something big to them. Even if it appears to be the same issue that was dealt with last week, hear them out and find out specifically what is going on. Too many times parents half-listen to what is being said and fill in the details in their heads.
• Make a Choice and Keep Score
There are going to be times when one sibling gets the short end of the stick. If both want to have some private time in the room and there is simply no way to compromise, you will have to pick one and go with that choice. Be clear that it is not a matter of liking one more than another, it is simply the fact that someone has to win this one and the other does not.
As this occurs from time to time, remember who got shafted last time and try to alternate. Try to be fair to everyone, but if you have to make a hard choice then remember that choice for the next time. You can also try to give the one that is feeling left out something else that can make up for the choice. Perhaps one can use the room while the other gets to use the computer that no child ever gets to touch.
• Let Them Work It Out
Sometimes it is good to let the two work things out for themselves. This should be done under controlled circumstances and supervised or mediated by a parent, but the process should be done mostly by the two children. There are times when a child surprises a parent at their level of maturity and caring. No one will ever learn to get along with others if adults make all of their choices for them.
There is no easy way for parents to handle some situations. It is a process of learning for both the parents and the children. Keep in mind that the children are rarely aware of how much guessing and trial and error goes into their upbringing. As long as a child’s safety is first and foremost and love is the center of all choices, then a parent will rarely make any big mistakes.
George Dennis is president of King Shade and Window, a home improvement company that helps customers compare replacement window and custom shades from King Shade and Windows.