Two Eastern philosophies may help parents reclaim the disaster zone that is their child’s room. First, is the Chinese practice of Feng Shui (fung-shooy in Mandarin, fung-schway in American English), shipped to American shores and made wildly popular. Second, are the lesser-known vedic principles dictated by Vaastu Shastra (vaastu meaning ‘man-made constructions’ and shastra meaning ‘sacred text’). When put into practice, the somewhat rigid rules that govern both principles can turn a clutter-filled kid’s room into a space where positive energy flows, leading to more focused, constructive play, and sounder sleep.


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Both practices share a fundamental similarity dictating that design logistics should respect the Earth as a living, breathing entity comprised of five elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. “Feng Shui was created thousands of years ago,” says Robyn Bentley, Google’s most popular source for kids’ Feng Shui tips. The rules were not intended for the carbon footprinting, metropolis inhabiting beings we are today. The same is true for Vaastu, which is why Sonal Panse, author of ‘The Principles of Vaastu Shastra’ suggests that in our modern times, “conditions may be present that make the implementation of all the principles difficult or impossible. So apply practical common sense.”

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There are a few things to consider before taking on the task of using either principle to design (or most likely, re-design) your kid’s room. First, Robyn notes that, “sticking close to nature is healthier. Sustainable is even better.” Sonal concurs, “To my knowledge, yes, sustainable materials would have an edge. Vaastu Shastra is after all inclined towards sustainable living.”

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So with my common sense cap securely fastened, I spoke with Robyn about a few actionable Feng Shui principles.

What is the simplest way one can create positive chi in a child’s room?
Point their bed in a positive sleeping direction, which is based on year of birth and gender. A child sleeping towards a negative direction will be out of balance. This is why kids turn themselves in their beds … We naturally will move our bodies toward a positive direction. Of course when adults do that we get a grumpy response from the other side of the bed.

Should we get down on our knees to, “See what the child’s eyes see”?
Everything in the child’s room should be at their eye level. In addition, what their eyes see has a conscious and subconscious psychological impact on them. Good things to put in the room are things that convey family, achievement and community.

I thought kids liked “eye noise.” Remind us why this is a negative.
Less is best because clutter slows down the natural flow of chi in a room and creates stuck energy. This makes us feel stuck, procrastinate, and can even make us feel depressed.

Can color help? Explain the Feng Shui approach to color in rooms…
Bedrooms should be yin (quiet) as opposed to yang (loud). Pastel colors are yin. Bold colors are yang. If a bedroom also serves as a playroom it still needs to be yin. A child will still be able to play in a yin bedroom, but might not sleep well in a yang bedroom.

And what about red? I thought red was the color of Feng Shui…
Red is an activator and if there is a lot of red, it will activate or enhance the Feng Shui flying stars in the room… Red represents the element of fire, and it is important to be careful with fire.

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Switching hats, but not continents, I spoke with Sonal Panse about Vaastu Shastra’s applications. Sonal, like Robyn, mentioned the importance of the sleeping location (“Don’t place the bed against a wall”) along with calm, soothing colors of the child’s preference; zero clutter; four-sided rooms; having no actual or perceived blockage of the room’s entrance; and the curious act of not placing beds under beams because “in earlier days it was to avoid the danger of the beam collapsing on the sleeper; nowadays, it’s to avoid any psychological weighed down feeling from a beam above.”

I also questioned Sonal on a few Vaastu specifics:

What is the difference between Feng Shui and Vaastu Shastra?
There are differences in how these concepts are implemented. These differences arise from geographical, cultural and time differences. Vaastu Shastra developed during the Vedic Period in the Indian Sub-continent. Feng Shui evolved much later in China.

According to energy zones, where in the home should the kids’ bedroom be located?
West (west-facing rooms are lit up by the evening sun, when the child is – perhaps – studying or playing or resting in his/her room), or East (east-facing rooms catch the morning sun, which is a nice thing to wake up to).

Are pictorial representations of the elements sufficient when designing with Vaatsu Shastra?
If the pictorial representations make you happy, have them, by all means. Otherwise, frankly, putting up pictures or, in the case of Feng Shui, mirrors and frogs, is not going to make much of a difference. The basic idea behind both Feng Shui and Vaastu Shastra is this – if you live or work in harmonious surroundings, there is more of a chance that you will achieve harmony and balance in your own life. There seem to be a lot of practitioners advising ‘install X and install Y’ and your life will improve [but] you are the one who is going to live with the design after all.

+ For more tips from Robyn the ‘Feng Shui Diva’ visit her website at fengshuidiva.com.

+ To view Sonal’s wonderful artwork, or to read more articles by the author, visit sonalpanse.com.

*note1: the layouts (above) are my interpretations of this Feng Shui map, and this Vaastu map.
*note2: the interviewees’ responses were edited for brevity.