Should different aged brothers share a bedroom?


Dear Stop It Now!,

I would like to know if my 5 year old son can share the same bedroom with his 12 year old brother?

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Dear Protective Parent,

There are no fast and hard rules about siblings with larger age gaps sharing a room.  Many siblings, especially same gendered siblings, do share a bedroom with this age difference.  As you think about this, what does your own experience with your children and your instinct say?  Are you asking this question because you have concerns or are you in a general safety planning stage?  Also, I would want to know how the kids feel about this sleeping arrangement.  Are there any concerns either of them have raised? If you do have any concerns at all about either of your children’s behaviors, especially regarding their understanding of healthy boundaries, privacy and overall sexual behaviors, then I would recommend that you try and set up other sleeping arrangements until you feel more comfortable.  This is to help both children stay safe.

Learn about Sexual Development
Overall, it’s always a good idea to learn about child sexual development, paying particular attention to the differences between typical behaviors and concerning behaviors, so that you can identify what behaviors could be concerning and what behaviors seem to be typical. Our resource guide page can help you find materials and resources on Children's Sexuality Development and Behaviors.  I want to especially draw your attention to these two resources, both by Debra Hafner:

Safety Planning
Clarifying overall family safety rules is also important. Establishing rules that are easy to follow while being respectful of personal boundaries and privacy needs can help everyone know clearly what behaviors are allowed and what is not. While you are thinking about your family’s safety plan, I’d also like to direct you to prevention tools on our website, such as 

Warning Signs
I would also encourage you to familiarize yourself with warning signs that might possibly indicate child sexual abuse in a child or an adult. A single sign is not necessarily meaningful, but seeing a group of them could be concerning and call for follow-up. 

I hope this information is helpful.

Take care,
Stop It Now


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Last edited on: November 9th, 2018