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When my husband and I began searching for a larger home -- a third child and a big dog had turned our previous one from cozy to crowded -- one of our goals was to have a bedroom for each of our three kids. Our two daughters had been sharing a room for nearly three years, and despite the fact that they got along well, our 10-year-old, Nicole, had been asking for her own room.
So last August we moved to a bigger house. And for the first three months, Nicole and Emily, 8, hardly spent a night apart. When they tried, one would often awaken during the night and hop into bed with the other. Nine months later, they have finally settled into their own rooms. But on a regular basis, one sister still meanders across the hall for a sleepover.
"When children are young, they gain a feeling of security from another's presence, and a sibling can be a real comfort at bedtime," says Patricia Dalton, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and family therapist in Washington, DC. Rather than feeling guilty or regretful if their children don't have their own rooms, parents should recognize the benefits of the situation. "Children who share a room learn a lot about give-and-take and tend to work things out on their own when given the chance," Dr. Dalton says.
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