We have likely all done it, you probably experienced it yourself as a child, but sending a child to their room every time they misbehave may be sending a bad message that their room is a dark, dreary, negative place.
The number of times parents complain that their kids stay in their room, sit there playing computer games, sulking or isolating themselves, may all have something to do with the numerous times they have been sent to their room as a punishment. They have likely been sent there to isolate them from their siblings or parents who may be angry or close to losing their control after a challenging behaviour of the child. The child is often sent there as punishment for an incident that occurred or sent there for any type of unacceptable or challenging behaviour.
We have now learned that anchoring in negative states or places, can result in that place having long-lasting negative feelings within a person. It is similar to a child being sent to the Principals office for poor behaviour at school. You can then notice that child’s response when they need to pop into the office with mum for something insignificant. The child is often uncomfortable, anxious and wants to get away from there quickly. This is due to the office being associated with a consequence of being in trouble.
The same thing can happen at home. While a child’s room is often their sanctuary it can also become their place of shame and sadness. Those repetitive words from a parent:
“get to your room and think about what you have done”, “just stay in your room until you apologise”, “get to your room before I explode”, “stay in your room until you are ready to behave in a civil manner”.
All these lines, said many times, can strike a negative connection with the child subconsciously. They can start using their room as their sad place, their thinking spot to consider all the bad things in life or that they have experienced.
Their room is often a bone of contention creating anger and frustration for parents and child when it is messy and the child hasn’t tidied up their room after being asked. A child can often become unsettled in their room during the evening, preventing them from resting comfortably in their room of a night instead of sleeping. The child can often wake and walk out of their room or into the parent’s room for comfort.
How can we reverse this, to make our child happy, comfortable and feel free in their room? Their room that should provide safety and comfort?
There are a few ways to resolve this and adjust how a child may perceive their room. It is usually pointless to discuss their feelings about their room as this is often quite deep within their subconscious and they may not be consciously aware at this time.
- Try finding another place for the child to go when in trouble which may be a disobedient corner or thinking place
- Reserve this place for only this purpose and when the issue is resolved, discuss the behaviour and new better behaviours elsewhere, not in the same thinking place
- Have their thinking place away from normal family spaces; while this is tricky it is achievable, perhaps on the veranda, a spot in the garage, the laundry
- When asking a child to tidy up their room needs to be done while giving the child definitive clear instructions on what you require, plus a time frame to complete it in, usually works well and stops the room being a negative place
If you want to change your child’s room to have it becomes a good feeling room, I suggest you
1. Paint the room a different colour, or even paint just one wall (child’s selection of colour)
2. Change the quilt colour or pattern to something else the child likes
3. Use the room as a happy place to play, read them stories at bedtime, play with them and add laughter
4. Assist the child to tidy and clean up their room so this is not always a negative issue
Anchoring in positive feelings and events enables the child to develop positive feelings about their room. It often aids the child to sleep better and remain in their room to sleep soundly each night.