Coloring helps children develop motor skills such as hand strength and pencil grip, but did you also know that coloring supports a child’s mental health? It’s a simple activity that most kids love to do, and has huge benefits.
1. Encourages the practice of concentration and focus
Our world is busy and full of distractions. Being able to focus is an essential skill for children’s academic and professional careers. Concentration and focus enable children to complete tasks. As children color, they develop their drawings and stories, building their ability to focus. Becoming fully engaged in an artistic activity like coloring can also allow a child to achieve a state of flow. This is similar to a meditative state. A child experiencing a state of flow may lose track of time and reduce mental chatter while they are intensely focused on the activity at hand.
Using coloring sheets can also prepare children for school by introducing them to more structured work. Coloring sheets can also help children learn the skill of patience as they work to finish coloring the sheet. Additionally, coloring can counter overstimulation that results from excess screen time.
2. Coloring calms the amygdala
The amygdala is the part of the brain activated by negative emotions and fear. The amygdala controls the stress response, and reducing activity in the amygdala can reduce negative emotions and feelings of stress and depression.
Coloring can be calming and relaxing for children when they need an outlet for negative and confusing emotions. When children are upset or worried, it’s difficult for them to stay in the present. Their thoughts are focused on whatever is causing them stress. Coloring works similarly to meditation, as children are able to focus their attention on something other than their worried thoughts. As the child picks colors and decides what shapes to draw, the brain focuses on the task at hand. New imagery of coloring can replace anxious imagery. Breathing also slows while coloring, allowing more oxygen intake, resulting in stress reduction and increased feelings of calm.
3. Helps children tell a story and communicate
Coloring helps children tell a story and communicate when words are not available. Children, adolescents, and even adults can sometimes struggle with finding the right words to communicate how they are feeling. Coloring provides a safe space for children to learn how to express themselves and release emotions, and no words are needed.
Coloring promotes self-expression as children are learning to make decisions independently. They choose what colors to use and what to draw, and their choices often express their state of emotion and inner world.
4. Promotes experimentation and learning
Coloring stimulates creativity and activates the imagination. Kids naturally come up with new ideas and learn how to brainstorm while coloring. It also provides a space for a child to center their mind. As children use color, shapes, and stories during art-making, they are engaging essential areas of the brain that process visual input. Kids can also learn about boundaries and increase spatial awareness when using coloring sheets.
5. Builds confidence and self-compassion
Overcoming challenges in art builds resiliency in life! As children successfully complete tasks such as coloring, they build their self-esteem and confidence. Coloring can increase a child’s sense of accomplishment and sense of mastery. Developing a sense of mastery is an important part of healthy development for children. It increases self-efficacy. Mastery and self-efficacy both lead to increased confidence in children. Kids also learn to be kind to themselves as they learn and make mistakes while coloring. This increases self-compassion, which in turn increases their resilience and persistence. Increased self-compassion also results in a child showing more compassion to others.
There are plenty of other benefits to coloring, like increasing a child’s color awareness and recognition of primary and common colors. Crayola offers a wide variety of free coloring sheets you can print at home. You can also try out mindful coloring sheets for children as well. There are many ways that coloring supports a child’s mental health, plus it’s inexpensive and has little clean-up. Make coloring a habit for your child today!
If you are concerned about your child’s mental health and would like some support, please reach out to us. Our team of therapists is here to provide support and guidance. We look forward to connecting with you!
Kate is the Founder and Clinical Director of Sage House Counseling & Art Therapy. With nearly ten years of clinical experience, I partner with you to connect back to your authentic, true self. The self that desires happiness, abundance and greater self-compassion. I work with clients just like you because I believe we all have the innate ability to heal and grow when we are heard and supported.