The Power of Cozy and it's Relationship to Behavior
If you follow me on Facebook, you will have noticed and may have been a participant in a series of polls asking you to choose which photo looked most cozy out of 2 photos, labeled A and B. I tried to keep the two being compared pretty close as far as colors/scheme went. The results were interesting, especially on seeing how subjective the term "cozy" is. For example, some of you noted textiles like bedding/rugs. Others honed in on things like practicality and storage.
Within each set of photos there was a constant and I think a few of you noted on some but not all of the rooms. It was something many of you were likely drawn to but didn't even notice. Doing this experiment with my added hyper awareness of space/environment will hopefully help you stop and really observe your settings and how they can directly have an affect on your mood. This awareness is such a great tool in coping, and behavior. Rather than focusing on the behavior, we need to zoom in to what could be causing or amplifying the behavior. In this case we are specifically looking at children's spaces, mostly bedrooms. So if you are seeing big emotions at night time in regards to bed time, perhaps this can help a bit!
I am going to start with the last photo first, hopefully this will pull everything together and you'll go back and see why most chose a specific room. In this photo I asked you to pick which parking space you would choose, the red car spot or the blue car spot. Majority answered red, here are a few of the reasons you all listed:
"Red, tree may provide shade"
"Red, more protective for my vehicle.
"Red car, so there’s only one car beside me"
"Red...only one person parked next to me. Less chance of car dings....lol"
Some reasons why some folks chose blue:
"Blue!! No hedges at the side and back..and easy access to the boot at the back!"
"Depends on where I'm coming from. I prefer to turn to the right to park."
Those who chose red, mostly rationalized this answer by noting the safety factor. The car is nestled in a corner, there is less risk of the car getting damaged due to the hedges on the side and behind. Those who chose blue or were undecided seemed to be noting the practicality of the spot based on their preferences.
In the next photo I shared a couch, with two spots marked A and B. A was the majority in this one, with one choosing B. Here are a few of the responses:
"A, hands down! You can lean on the side of the couch. You won’t have people on either side of you."
"A. Corners are the "safest" so I feel coziest there."
"A because I am "surrounded" by two sides!"
Here we see again that the corner spot is preferred, safety and comfort mostly noted as to why.
Now I want to make clear, this is merely a social experiment based on my own personal observations. I am autistic, with sensory processing disorder, and am hyper aware of my space in relation to my comfort level. Most do not analyze something so closely, and perhaps is why some can't pinpoint their source of discomfort. Hopefully this may help some of you, for some this may not apply. It is often hard to understand why something makes us feel a certain way, but if we take the time to explore this we can accommodate our emotions by surrounding ourselves with things that make us feel good. So when we do have big feelings, at least we have a safe and comfortable spot to support our needs.
Ok, let's move on to the room photos... I will post some of the responses and see if you notice the common theme in the ones that "won" the poll.
The first set:
The results for this set were majority A. Here are some of the responses:
"A) I love the warm tones of the bedding and can imagine the plush feel of the carpet beneath my toes!"
"A.....Love the bed and I could see friends cuddled up in the corner reading books. I would add window treatments. Fabric at the windows is always a cozier feel and it absorbs sound."
"A) the natural, warm tones, the rug, the decor- all more cozy to me."
Those who chose B:
"B love the headboard bookcases and under bed storage"
"B because of storage"
You will notice that most who chose room A went for comfort and cozy and those who voted B went for practicality mostly noting storage.
The second set:
Room B was majority in this poll. Here are some of the comments:
"B less cluttered, simpler design, cozy and inviting"
"B. Feels more organized. The bed gives off a fort or castle vibe. The lights on the bed give it an overall soft and inviting touch."
"B, plenty of room to play freely"
"B. Less clutter and lights add to cozy feel"
I found these comments the most interesting from a few who chose A, noting the corner hiding spot and how they described it:
"A because it has a secondary hiding place B the hiding place is too exposed and feels incomplete"
"A because it had that tented little plush area"
The third set:
A was the majority. Here are some responses:
"A, all of the nature elements and spot’s for found treasure. The detail work on the bed frame is so artistic. I’m a painter..."
"A. Again the wood and natural elements. The texture from the baskets and plants. For me it’s really about texture and how that makes me feel."
"A: because b looks too neat & tidy. A looks cozy n lived in"
A few from those who chose B:
"B the bed in A is to busy"
"Like b but like the shelf in a"
The fourth set:
Room B was the majority.
Here are a few of the responses:
"B: 2 kids sitting cozier. Books on Wall versus the other thing which seems too "sterile" too set up."
"B, having the books with fronts displayed is so much more of an invitation to read, the muted colors are relaxing and 2 seats invites sharing space and a love of reading. "
"A is clean, B is more cluttered so more cosy to me"
"A, b/c books look easier to access without climbing"
"A...the brighter colors make me think of a warm sunny day. And I like the simple organization of the books."
Did you notice a trend with the majority votes? There is one key element that every winning photo has... a corner. Try to recall being a child and having a moment of big emotions, flooded by irrational thoughts and the inability to deploy logic and coping skills. Do you remember running and hiding under a table? In the corner beside a couch, or perhaps you locked yourself in the bathroom? Think about those places, and why you chose to be emotional there versus in the middle of the family room. You likely recall feeling safe in these places. Almost as if you were being hugged. If we apply the same concept to a child's space, we can set them up with a space to practice healthy coping skills and mindfulness. This doesn't just apply to negative emotions, we can even enjoy this set up when we are excited, or happy. The calmness of being nestled helps keep us from becoming overwhelmed or distracted and can allow us to really be in our moment.
In many of these photos, the minority votes were mostly noting practicality and organization. I invite those who chose based on these factors to go back and look through the photos and really choose the ones that make you feel cozy. If you were given a storage shelf/bins to add to a room, would you still choose the same one?
What does this have to do with bedtime? A child's room should be their safe place. Not just to sleep in, but to live in throughout the day. If the room is just associated with the end of the day, it could be one reason why there is an aversion. Joining your child in their room throughout the day to read, play, and relax is a great way to help them understand that their room is a living space. The bedroom should never be a place for punishment, rather a place for them to retreat to if they are feeling overwhelmed. This is why it is important to make the room cozy, and their belongings easily accessible to them. It should be free of clutter, and have things that are dear to them available for them to access when they need them. Textiles such as bedding, pillows, and rugs should be muted and plentiful. Different textures are welcome, but careful not to be overstimulating. Steer clear of bright bold colors and patterns, cartoons, and mixed themes. For a playroom these things would be okay, however remember we are trying to create a calm space for them to be.
If you are having nighttime issues, look into making a few of the adjustments I have mentioned as well as examining your routine. Is the bed out in the middle of the room? Try swinging it into a corner, or up against the wall long ways. Corners are instinctively a safe spot. Perhaps add more pillows, and a rug? Lighting was also noted often in the above results, try focusing on the time of day and type of lighting in your house. During the evening lights should be more subtle and not so overwhelming. The lights will act as a cue for the expected mood or "vibe" at that time :) If you are curled up in their room reading a book before bed, lighting should match the expected mood, low lamp light not bright overhead lighting. Adults may have a hard time seeing this being an issue, but try it! See how you feel when you lower the lights! Stopping the use of electronics a while before bedtime is also crucial to a child's development and rest, here is more info on this.
If you would like some more feedback on your little one's room set up, please feel free to contact me I would be glad to help or give some suggestions. As I have stated before I am by no means an expert, however I am confident my personal hyper awareness is helpful in understanding what a child may need to feel less overwhelmed and cozy. As a result, allowing them to work on their emotional needs and healthy coping skills.
Cozy Regards :)