The true importance of your child’s bedroom
Before Pea was even founded, we were exploring the importance of personalising children's bedrooms. After all, adults personalise their spaces all the time; and the way we decorate our homes isn’t just to impress others, or to flaunt what we have. It gives us the freedom of self-expression. Allowing children to do the same, research shows, is psychologically beneficial.
In his book Snoop: What Your Stuff Says about You, psychologist Sam Gosling studies how people project their innermost selves through the private worlds they create within their homes. His work suggests that, not only do we showcase our personalities through our spaces, but we create our personalities through them.
He says, “we use our homes to make purposeful and deliberate statements about ourselves” – in what he calls “identity claims”. Our homes are where we establish our sense of self and communicate it to others, and that base is used to interpret the world around us.
That all makes sense; we fill our homes with the things we love, and the things we want to be associated with. It gives us comfort. We see ourselves in the spaces we create.
We feel at home..
Our spaces and places shape our memories, too. This effect is so powerful that when we return to places where we used to live, we have the tendency to revert to a past version of ourselves; we become the person we were when we lived there.
Sometimes, as parents, we overlook those inner feelings and that self-identity when it comes to our children’s bedrooms. Despite putting the effort into making our children’s bedrooms a safe, warm place for sleep and play, we don’t usually think about how it makes them feel.
Maybe that’s because half the time, we decorate when we’re still expecting the arrival of our little one – and leave it that way until they start school (we get it, parenting is FULL ON, so absolutely no judgement here!). When we do come around to reimagining their bedroom, it can be tempting to relegate inexperienced little decorators to spectators, instead of letting them participate.
It’s pretty reasonable to want to keep them away from the paint, but it doesn’t all have to be totally off limits. Decorating should be fun – even if the idea of an imperfect mark makes you wince!
The act of decorating is just one, small fragment of the importance of your child’s bedroom. The single most important thing is that children get a sense of ownership and control. You can give this to them by letting them call the shots (or at least some of them) on what their bedroom will be like.
It doesn’t seem that many parents do, though.
In a 2015 collaborative study on the developmental implications of children's bedrooms, it was hypothesised that children are subject to the decisions of adults when shaping their worlds; their bedrooms are organised by adults, who presume that they will find the space amenable.
The hypothesis was right. Only 8.1% of the bedrooms studied were directly influenced by the children themselves. 51.9% of them were orchestrated by one parent, 31.9% by both, and 8.8% were influenced by others.
That puts the wishes of the child in last place. For their own bedroom.
We, and a growing number of parents and experts, believe that children should be surrounded with positive visual reminders of their interests, to help form their identity; and that this should grow with them, as their interests and passions change. Once they reach their teens, they’ll have greater confidence and experience, a sense of pride and ownership, and be able to make their own decisions about their personal space with authority.
But why’s that so important?
Why is it important to let children have ownership of their bedrooms?
- They feel listened to and valued as a member of the family
- Their needs are better met
- They have real choices, with the freedom to create and alter their world
- They see themselves reflected in their environment; self-esteem, confidence and independence can become a foundation of their self-image
- They gain a sanctuary and source of comfort
As rights4children.org.uk puts it, “everybody has the right to feel safe and settled in their own space” – and that, of course, includes children.
Beyond a child’s fundamental rights to privacy, safety and the safety of their belongings, they will need more to attain agency and self-actualisation; just like adults.
Giving a child control and ownership of their space allows them the opportunity to explore and imagine, and play in their own unique way.
Children with atypical traits or development can have extremely varied and complex interests that they pursue relentlessly. But even a child who follows the most typical path of development will be beautifully, spectacularly unique in the way they play and explore.
Giving them control over how that’s done, in a space all of their own, is incredibly powerful, calming and reassuring.
It can be hugely beneficial to their overall wellbeing.
When should you let your child decorate their own bedroom?
Before the ages of 5 or 6, a sense of self is not yet fully developed. In Freudian terms, infants are 100% id; entirely driven by instinct. The superego, which gives us feelings of satisfaction and pride, and helps us make sense of our standing among our peers, begins to develop its roots between the ages of 3 and 5.
This is when it becomes more important to nurture identity.
Now, nobody's expecting a 3-year-old to pick up the rollers and masking tape, but giving them a stake in the design is really important to the development of how they see themselves.
“I love space and science. I am clever.”
“I love stories about castles and unicorns. I am full of imagination”
“I love climbing trees and finding bugs. I am curious.”
Simply getting bedroom theme ideas from them will allow that self-expression to take place.Read More
Allowing their personality to shine through a desired theme gives a child a degree of choice, independence and control. Children should see visual reminders of their interests within their bedrooms, to help form and strengthen their identity.
Now’s the time to take play and bedrooms seriously
The pandemic represented one of the biggest cultural shifts in history. As the first glimmers of hope emerge for a world where, for the first time in what feels like forever, we don’t have to fear Covid anymore, it’s those little voices in our homes, who missed out on so much of what constitutes childhood, who need the biggest representation and opportunity for self-expression.
Let’s give them the opportunity to become themselves.
Bedrooms filled with adventure and imagination
At Pea, we believe that children should be surrounded with positive visual reminders of their interests, to help form their identity. Discover our creative child’s bedroom ideas, and help your child enjoy a happy, comforting, inspiring bedroom.