Exit the Rupert pillowcase, enter Feng Shui

Can I help? By Penny Sinclair, child psychotherapist

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SAD TO say, Timon has been mega-argumentative since my partner, Chris, painted the kids' rooms. I found out why when I consulted my invaluable "Feng Shui" handbook. Can you believe it? Chris had painted Timon's walls with stripes!

Stripes are well-known to be bad Feng Shui, sowing arguments and confusion. Chris had also hung Timon's Swiss penknife display on the wall, creating what the Feng Shui eggheads call "cutting ch'i". (As you know, ch'i is the name given to powerful lines of energy that cross the planet.)

He had then followed Esme's instructions and painted her room entirely black. Mums, Feng Shui tells us that when we want to wear black it's because we're feeling weak and in need of attention. With kids it's a clear sign of insecurity. Don't "Paint It Black" guys. Whatever Mick Jagger says, Penny says Talk It Through.

When I rang Chris to complain - he's now in Namibia again for six months - I found him very negative. He reacted particularly badly when I mentioned that the position of our downstairs toilet was bad Feng Shui.

"The toilet's position opposite the front door could adversely affect our finances," I began, reasonably.

"The position of the toilet will only adversely affect our finances if you spend thousands of pounds altering it," he snapped, domineeringly.

"You sound a little stressed Chris. Are you sure you're sleeping on a wooden bed?"

"What?"

"You know that metal conducts electromagnetic stress and is bad Feng Shui. Are you sure the air is flowing freely under you at night ... Hallo?"

The children were not happy about me redecorating their rooms. I had to be very firm but gentle with Esme. I told her she would have to lose her Rupert pillowcase as it was making her lose her identity. We would also have to move her bed because her feet were currently facing the door in a Feng Shui "coffin position". "The position of your bed is draining your energies away," I explained.

"But I have to see the telly."

"The telly has to go as well, because it makes the energy in the room more activity-orientated."

Esme become extremely quarrelsome, proving my point. Timon also became difficult when I put up pictures of angels next to his Mad Max posters. Mums, do try to balance nasty pictures - of dinosaurs and suchlike - with friendlier images drawn from the spirit world. I made a mental note to repaint Timon's bedroom door. Feng Shui tells us that the door to your child's room is her front door. If it is scarred and chipped she can feel that life is a battle.

It's good Feng Shui to write poems around the top of the walls next to the ceiling. For girls, experts suggest a poem about a tiny princess (though some mums might prefer to leave royalty out of it). For instance: "The tiny princess made everybody smile" (but do stress, mums, that everybody was laughing with her and not at her). "Every night the stars looked down upon her, filling her dreams with happy laughter." Timon was not happy with his Feng Shui poem, scraping it off the wall with one of his Swiss Army knives, so I encouraged him to write his own. I had to make several alterations but I was careful to accompany these with helpful praise.

"Your poem is very beautiful, Tim. But it would be even better if you replaced the word 'heat-seeking missile' with 'star'. How about 'shooting star'?"

The Japanese have a word "Ma" (confusing or what?) for the space between objects. Space is important; clutter creates "messy ch'i". I hit upon a brilliant way of clearing the kids' clutter while improving the Feng Shui of our front path. It's very bad Feng Shui to have a straight path: it can make you lose control of events.

I thought as a family - obviously minus Chris - we could gather together the toys we no longer wanted and put them in piles on the front path. This meant that whoever came to the front door would have to walk in a lovely curved path around them.

When our neighbour Sue stormed through the gate to complain about Timon biting her son Hugo, she tripped over three of the piles, poor love. When will she learn to "Think Pink" when she is angry? "Feng Shui says that straight paths can cause accidents..." I said as I bandaged her leg. "...I can tell from your silence that you are worried about Hugo's insecurity.

"Has it never occurred to you, Sue, to check out the history of your house? Hugo could be suffering from 'insecure ch'i', causing him to act out the insecurity of some little boy from the past." The very next day I had the enormous satisfaction of spotting Sue hobbling into our local estate agent with a determined look on her face. Feng Shui, Sue: Feng Shui very much indeed.

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