Most children enjoy being creative with pencils and crayons. But did you know there are impressive reasons beyond fun for encouraging the use of mindfulness coloring pages for kids and adults?
As we highlight the vast reasons to use coloring pages we hope that teachers and parents are inspired to use them as a mindfulness tool to help children to calm down and refocus. The added bonus of mindfulness coloring is that it promotes creativity and improves fine motor skills, and it's not just for primary and elementary school students - high schools and universities use it too!
Benefits of Mindfulness Coloring for Kids
Coloring can be a highly effective way of fostering physical and psychological wellness in children. While it's a relaxing form of self-expression that stimulates creativity it also promotes a range of benefits to nurture wellbeing by reducing stress, anger and anxiety.
Our study confirmed evidence for the benefits of colouring on mood that has been found in earlier studies, but the findings on mindfulness, creativity and visual attention are new and exciting.
• Enhances fine motor development
Coloring is an activity that helps children build the muscles in their fingers, hand, and wrist to aid in manipulating small objects.
Very young children start by grabbing a crayon in their fist and putting it to paper. As their fine motor skills develop, they start to grip it with their fingers and eventually learn to manipulate their crayon beyond a random scribble. These are the first steps toward being able to draw or write with a pencil or pen, an essential skill required for future learning.
Click here to read why it's so important to develop fine motor skills.
When combined with increasing hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills also open new doors to exploration, learning, and creative expression.
In order to learn to write or draw, for example, a child's hand must be strong and coordinated enough to hold a pencil steady for a long period of time.
• Improves hand-eye coordination
According to Access Therapy Services, "hand-eye coordination refers to our ability to process information received from the eyes to guide and direct the hands to perform a task."
They place great importance on hand-eye coordination stating that "if children don’t develop their coordination skills, they might:
- Avoid physical activities
- Be slower than their peers when it comes to mastering physical skills
- Become clumsy
- Have difficulty learning academically
- Have trouble developing their social skills
Their recommendation for developing these skills includes coloring and painting.
New research findings show that young children with better eye-to-hand coordination scored higher on basic academic skills compared to their less-dexterous peers. The results, published in Psychological Science, signal an important relationship between children’s ability to physically interact with their environment and their cognitive development.
• Develops spatial awareness
Visual perception is an important skill to develop in young children. Coloring can help strengthen awareness of the hand's position and margins on the page to help children keep their pencil within a given area.
• Builds concentration and focus
When children are asked to color between the lines, they may need to concentrate more than they would with freeform drawing. Because they are contained to a specific area, they will need to stay focussed on the space they have to fill and be more precise in their application.
• Promotes creativity and self-expression
Coloring allows children to express their individuality through color selection and medium. It's interesting to observe how much pressure they apply, the color choices they make, and whether they color loosely or tightly. Everyone is different and so is each masterpiece. One study also showed that using mindfulness coloring pages can increase the novelty and variety displayed in the pictures they create.
Sixty-four children in kindergarten and first grade were asked to color one of three pictures which varied in complexity. Following the coloring exercise the children were administered the CIRCUS: Make a Tree, a measure of divergent pictorial production which yields three scores (Appropriateness, Unusualness, Difference). A one-way ANOVA revealed a main effect of the coloring exercise in Unusualness and Difference. The findings suggest that giving children models to color can increase the novelty displayed in their subsequent productions, and that giving children complex models to color can increase the variety displayed in the pictures that they make.
• Teaches colour and shape recognition
Filling in the spaces with color on a printed page helps children to recognise hue, perspective, shape and form as well as giving them an opportunity to explore different color combinations.
• Relaxes and releases emotions
Coloring can have a profoundly therapeutic and calming effect on children as they shift their focus to concentrate on finishing their picture. This peaceful activity can provide an outlet for processing emotions and take the focus off challenging situations.
Coloring enthusiasts claim that coloring makes them feel calmer, mentally clearer, happier, and more relaxed.
When engaged in their hobby, “colorists,” as they call themselves, say that their worries temporarily fade away.
This is not surprising when you consider that all arts and crafts hobbies have the power to focus the mind similarly to meditation.
Even renowned psychologist Carl Jung knew the benefits as he had his patients coloring mandalas for relaxation and self-discovery.
Benefits of mindfulness coloring for adults
One of the things that convinced me about the benefits of coloring for adults is an article I read by an art therapist and psychotherapist who saw first-hand the changes in her clients when she put coloring books in her waiting room. She echoes many who believe in the power of coloring. The following are some of the benefits I feel are most noteworthy to mention:
• Modern self-help tool
When testing to measure improvements in psychological outcomes, a study concluded that coloring helped lower depression and anxiety, calling it a highly accessible self-help tool.
In 2 experiments, undergraduates colored and participated in a control condition. Subjective and performance measures of mood and mindfulness were included: an implicit mood test (Experiment 1) and a selective attention task (Experiment 2) along with a divergent thinking test. In both experiments, coloring significantly reduced anxiety and increased mindfulness compared with control and baseline scores. Following coloring, participants scored significantly lower on implicit fear than the control condition, and significantly higher on selective attention and original ideation. Coloring might not only reduce anxiety, but also improve mindful attention and creative cognition.
• Coloring helps maintain focus
Coloring is becoming accepted within a University setting as a tool for students to maintain focus. Theresa Citerella, a student studying art therapy at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. said that “A lot of my fellow graduate classmates bring these coloring books into the classroom setting as a tool to focus more on lectures.” She explained that more professors are beginning to welcome this behavior.
• Coloring can help you sleep
It's well documented that using light-emitting electronic devices prior to going to bed delays the circadian clock and suppresses levels of melatonin (a sleep-promoting hormone) which results in more time required before falling asleep. Most of us are guilty of using such devices in the evening so if sleeping is an issue, replacing devices with coloring books can be beneficial.
• An alternative to yoga or meditation
A psychologist in Melbourne, Australia is an avid fan of coloring for helping his clients relax and unwind. Dr. Stan Rodski shared that he was having trouble getting his clients to use traditional techniques such as breathing, yoga and meditation to help control anxiety. When he saw how quickly and easily coloring relaxed children, he decided to research it as an alternative for adults and found it helped them achieve the same deep sense of relaxation.
"If you look at it from the brain perspective, when they started colouring their brain recognised it as a happy place and it helped them to feel quite youthful again," Dr. Rodski said.
"It’s a carefree happiness because with that childhood memory comes a sense of no responsibility, accountability or pressure, and the brain reacts to that."
He's so convinced of the little known power of coloring that he even created his own range of coloring meditation books.
How does coloring help people relax?
When people are stressed or anxious, they can find it difficult to stay focused in the present moment. That essentially means that their thoughts are centred around their worries or to-do list instead of what's happening right in front of them at the given time.
The act of coloring is likened to meditation or mindfulness in that it gives people something else to focus their attention on. When the brain is focused on a simple activity that takes us outside of ourselves and with a predictable outcome, it's able to relax.
Dr. Joel Pearson, a brain scientist at the University of New South Wales in Australia explains: "You have to look at the shape and size, you have to look at the edges, and you have to pick a colour. It should occupy the same parts of the brain that stops any anxiety-related mental imagery happening as well. Anything that helps you control your attention is going to help.”
It's amazing that something so simple and enjoyable can have so many unknown benefits for users of all ages.
Share your experiences
We'd love to see your results and hear how coloring benefits you and your children so please feel free to share your experiences and photos of your masterpieces!