In a condo set-up for large families, sooner or later parents will have to address the issue of sibling rivalry when arranging rooms for their kids. If left unattended, sibling rivalry can lead to more serious problems such as deep-seated hostility and even physical violence. As a loving parent, you will do everything in your power to prevent this from happening.
Statistically speaking, sibling rivalry or conflict is normal. Most families with two or more children deal with it. But psychologist and anti-bully advocate Izzy Kalman argues that while sibling rivalry exists in many families, there is nothing healthy about it. If sibling rivalry is allowed to persist, it may cause pain not only to the kids but also to the parents.
Thankfully, there are ways to make apartment living with kids fun, comfortable, and healthy for all members of the family. For parents dealing with or planning to prevent their kids from fighting over rooms, below are five helpful and effective guides to rooming your kids properly.
Explain the Arrangement with Your Kids
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Allocating individual rooms to each of your kids can be an ideal setup if you are not limited by budget and space. But if necessity dictates that your kids share a room, it is essential that you honestly explain to them the reasons for such an arrangement. Is it because you’re downsizing? Or because you want your older kid to be more responsible in looking after his or her younger sibling? Whatever the reasons, it is important that you try to make your kids understand.
As your kids develop an understanding of why they are sharing a room, creating a condo set-up for large families becomes so much easier. According Susan Bartell, child psychologist and author of The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask, kids are more receptive to share a room than some parents may know. Kids like to share rooms because sharing is about inclusion and being together. Bartell furthers that many parents expect kids to want their own space above all. While this is true when kids reach a certain age (in most cases during adolescence), many children value the company of their siblings.
Experiment with Bed Layouts
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Each child must learn to establish personal boundaries in forming his or her identity. Conflict will likely arise when personal boundaries are breached. Experimenting with different bed layouts will allow your kids to delimit their personal space. The most traditional layout is the side-by-side. This formation provides an appealing visual symmetry that conveys to your children that their claim to personal space is equal. A side-by-side bed layout in condo rooms will also allow your children to see each other as partners, not rivals.
An adjacent bed layout is also gaining popularity because it allows more space for playing. This is ideal if you have younger kids who need space for their toys. If you have extra budget, installing bunk beds will also serve the same purpose. Having bunk beds or an adjacent layout will provide ample space for your kids to bond while playing.
Provide Multi-purpose Storage Space
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A shared room becomes breathable when you provide storage space for your children’s personal things. Toys and clothes are common items that kids fight over. One of the most helpful apartment room ideas to avoid this problem is to have plenty of small- and medium-sized storage baskets and bins. Having sufficient storage containers will make it easier and less stressful for your kids to keep their personal things and to maintain a tidy room. Another great idea is to have foldable storage box chairs that can also function as furniture. Multi-purpose storage items will help you realize your objective of avoiding heavy and cluttered rooms.
Storage space can also be customized to suit the needs of your children. For example, if your children are of school age, providing them with their own study tables will encourage them to study. If the room does not allow you to create separate desk areas, using one unit with designated sections is a great alternative. Most furniture stores have various desk systems with adjustable pieces to address your children’s needs.
Harmonize the Space with Color
Color is a simple design element that will help you realize your objective of avoiding heavy rooms for your kids. Color can create a cohesive environment that is cohabitation-friendly. Interior designer Mary Wadsworth advises the use of paint or wallpaper to create separate areas that are aesthetically attractive and complementary. For example, using harmonious shades of blue, white and beige can provide area distinction if your kids are of the opposite sex. While the color blue is largely associated with boys, balancing this color with beige and white will create a gender-neutral room while still allowing your kids to identify their own spot in the shared space.
Whether your are a young couple or a single mom into condo buying, utilizing various color combinations is a creative way to add warmth and a homey feel to your kids’ room. You can also allow your kids to express themselves with their chosen color. Accenting walls in your children’s favorite colors will give them a sense of partial ownership of the room. For teenagers who may be drawn to bold colors, you can create a wall mural or install a cork board above their beds to give them their own special corner to express themselves.
Establish Ground Rules
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Rooms for kids can be creatively and smartly designed, but conflicts may still arise especially when infringements on personal space take place. Borrowing or moving something that belongs to the other person is a common reason for conflict. The solution? Set up rules and consequences should anyone break those rules. It is also a great idea to engage your children when creating house rules so they feel part of establishing order. Rules depend on your household, but one ground rule involves asking permission before using any of the other person’s personal item. A common bedtime policy can work if your kids are close in age, but it may not be effective when one child is of school age while the other is still a toddler. The key is to take into account the schedule and needs of your children when establishing ground rules. That way, you establish rules that are realistic and appropriate.
Room sharing teaches your children valuable life lessons. A combined bedroom can teach your kids the art of sharing, compromising, and resolving conflict. As kids, of course, they need your guidance as a parent. Rooming your kids while apartment renting has many challenges. But with creativity and love, you can effectively design a shared space for your children to help them become responsible and kind adults.
Patricia Evans is a part time interior designer and a full-time mother. She has worked in marketing, but quit her job to pursue her true passion: interior design. When she's not busy balancing her household and career, Patricia writes about lifestyle, travel, architectural trends, fashion, health, gardening, tea and cooking.