Today’s world can be a stressful place for kids!
The pressures kids experience come from a variety of places…. school, friends, family, health problems (their own or a loved one’s), social media, and on and on. The amount of stress each child can tolerate will vary. But eventually the effects of stress can begin to show, often with stomach aches or headaches, sleeping or eating disorders, behavior problems…. and even depression.
As parents and teachers, we can only eliminate so much stress from a child’s life. Some of the stress a child experiences will just be beyond our control. So teaching kids coping techniques and providing stress-reducing activities can be a proactive way to deal with some of the difficulties of today while encouraging healthy habits for years to come.
Coloring is one stress-reducing activity that kids of all ages can enjoy, yet it’s so basic and commonplace that it’s often overlooked. No special skills or talent are needed for coloring, which is why anyone can enjoy it and feel successful. Coloring requires minimal supplies and is easily portable. It’s a simple hobby that kids can take with them anywhere! Coloring offers a chance to briefly unplug from our technology-filled lives.
Because the activity of coloring creates such focused attention, it allows kids to become totally immersed in the present moment, rather than rehearsing negative events of the past or worrying about things in the future. It develops patience and promotes mindfulness…. two qualities we can all use more of!
In addition to its stress-reducing value, coloring offers physical benefits like improved eye/hand coordination, dexterity, and fine motor skills…. all while building strength in the hand, fingers, and wrist. Art skills flourish with a growing awareness of color, pattern, detail, and repetition, and the increasing ability to “see like an artist”.
To be fair, I need to mention the argument against coloring…. some believe (strongly!) that coloring stifles imagination in kids. They argue that it’s better for kids to create their own art than to color in someone else’s drawings. But one does not have to be exclusive of the other! I vote in favor of coloring in addition to having plenty of opportunities for artistic expression. There are times when creating art can involve more decisions and problem-solving than a child is mentally or emotionally up for making. As a stress-reducing outlet, coloring promotes a peaceful meditative state where no decisions need to be made other than choosing pleasing colors. And sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered!
Some helpful tips for parents….
- Keep coloring supplies accessible – at home, in the car, and anywhere your child may find a few free moments. Pocket-sized coloring books and mini colored pencil sets will fit in backpacks or purses and definitely have the “cute factor” going for them! My favorite choice for coloring on-the-go are the Crayola Twistables Colored Pencils because you just twist the barrel to advance the lead, so they never need sharpening. You can find coloring books for every age and interest or simply print coloring pages from the internet and fasten to a clip board.
- Select age-appropriate coloring books by considering the sizes of the shapes to color as well as the content and subject matter of the pictures. Very young children will do better with large, simple shapes and crayons, but keep in mind that smaller shapes can be filled in more quickly than larger ones, requiring less patience. Then pair the tools (crayons, markers, or colored pencils) that will fill in those shapes well, without being too large for the space available.
- When a child has to “wait” for any reason (like waiting for dinner, for an appointment, or for you to be ready to leave the house!), suggest coloring as a way to pass the time. When kids complain of being “bored”…. encourage coloring!
- Don’t miss the chance to color with your kids! Show them different techniques they may want to check out, but don’t insist on them staying inside the lines. Offer ideas to try like filling in large areas by going all one direction for a very smooth effect… or intentionally filling in those bigger spaces with controlled but scribbly lines for a totally different result! Another idea is to outline an area by pressing hard to get a darker outline, then filling in that shape by pressing lighter. My dad taught me this technique one day decades ago, and I still remember how special I felt as he sat and colored with me that afternoon!
- Click below to download free coloring pages from Jumo Health, which offers age-appropriate resources to help kids learn about serious health issues that they or their family members may be dealing with. Jumo Health’s free multi-media health resources (like comics, podcasts, videos, and games) are written by doctors to empower children and families by alleviating the anxiety that often accompanies a diagnosis…. and are now available in over 50 countries and over 30 languages.
Click to Download These Free Coloring Pages from Jumo Health
Amazon affiliate links were used in this post. By clicking through my site and purchasing something (anything!) from Amazon, I earn a small commission, at no extra charge to you…. helping me continue to provide free content so you can share the JOY of ART with the kids in your life…. it’s a win-win!!