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Children and Their Bedrooms: Where Children Sleep

If you're like most parents, your child's bedroom is the one place where a lot of thought has gone into the placement, size, timing and even the decor. Who would have guessed that so many questions arise for our children's private space: Do children need their own bedroom? And at what age is it the best for siblings to separate? How much say-so should children and teens have when it comes to privacy, cleanliness, and creating a space they love?

Estimated reading and viewing time: 3 minutes

Siblings have a pillow fight in their bedroomA child's bedroom is a get-away for them and often reflects the child's personality. In working with parents for the last two decades, I've seen so many creative ideas when visiting homes! Children's bedrooms definitely seem to be a go-to for many children.

And when visiting an orphanage in Honduras years ago, the starkness of the children's bedrooms compared to my own children's was dramatic. The experience had a profound impact on me and started my journey toward minimalism.

So when I came across this extraordinary picture book of children's bedrooms, I was moved by how different each space was and the economic differences and influences, too.

Where Children Sleep: a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words!

In the photo book Where Children Sleep, documentary photographer James Mollison profiles children around the world with portraits of the child and their bedrooms. From a one-room house in Nepal to the room of a beauty pageant star in Kentucky, the book shows how a child’s bedroom is a reflection of their lifestyle and inherent personality.

After all, a child’s bedroom is just another canvas, describing a story of their lives, influences, and interests. This photo book made me think about the vast difference in experiences children have depending on where they’re born—and the significance of where a child is born. However, what struck me most was the incredible uniqueness in character traits that came through the pictures.

How Does the Brain Treat Our Environment?

If you've looked at Mollison's profile of children's bedrooms, it becomes apparent that a four-year-old beauty pageant star has no need for a hunting rifle? And a fourteen-year-old boy living in a desert has no need for ribbons or trophies measuring performance either?

Since our brain’s top priority is survival, it wires efficiently to make us adept in our own environments. In one study, it depended on whether the environment was deprived or enriched as to how the brain's plasticity changed. And our basic human needs for safety and security are foundational.

In my work, I've also found it interesting how the environment can impact children and adults alike. For instance, I had several clients who were frequently moved into different rooms as a child, a little like musical chairs. However, this disruption became an influence on how they viewed their place in the world and impacted how they responded to experiences.

One became very territorial when anyone messed with his stuff at home or work and was dismayed when a person set something on his desk. Another viewed their childhood arrangement as fun; therefore, she enjoyed the redesigning of each new room she slept in. Each time, she picked a new theme. And guess what? She sought a career as an interior designer!

We are all products of our growing up years.

What qualities, abilities, and traits are your children developing as a result of where they are growing up? What does your child’s bedroom reveal about them that may be insightful? And is your child's bedroom their own unique space or have you decorated it for them using your own preferences?

Every family paints the canvas of their homes differently. Our homes and our children's bedrooms are a reflection of who we are.

If you haven't, take a moment to check out some photos from James Mollison’s amazing photo book. It will enrich you and can’t help but move you, and maybe even be a profound experience for you. It was for me!

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Jennifer A. Williams / Parent CoachJennifer A. Williams / Parent Coach
Jennifer is the Heartmanity Founder and a parent coach and behavioral consultant with two decades of experience. She is a Parent Instructor and Instructor Trainer for the International Network of Children and Families and author of several parenting courses, including How to Bully-Proof Your Child and Hacking the Teen Brain. Jennifer is happily married and a mother to 3 fantastic grown children.

Posted in Perfectly Imperfect Parenting

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