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The importance of Painting in Children's Development

Updated on January 2, 2013
A colourful landscape from a childs perspective
A colourful landscape from a childs perspective

Toddlers make absolutely wonderful pictures when they are allowed to freely work with paints and colour on a large piece of paper. Sadly, for many toddlers, this is a rare experience. Technology and “non-messy” activities and structured games are important but, in my opinion, equally important is the experience of messy play and art.

Apart from being tons of fun, painting helps aesthetic development, fine motor skills, expressing and learning emotions, self expression and speech.

Painting together is also a great bonding experience for you and your child. However it is important that you allow yourself to have the freedom to paint without trying to make a picture and your child has the freedom to paint how he or she wants to.

Letting the child artist emerge

Picasso once said: “I used to draw like Raphael. But it has taken me a lifetime to draw like a child.”

Although Picasso was a competent artist when he drew like Raphael, he became a great artist only when he allowed the child within him to emerge and started to draw freely without a pre-determined technique.

When we allow our children to paint and draw their own way and they see us having fun and being free with colour, shapes without technique they will learn to trust themselves and their instincts. They will create a visual world on paper about things as they appear, taste and smell.

If you are worried or don’t like to deal with mess try a drop in centre that provides a space to paint - wear old duds and the clean-up is not solely your problem .

One tip is to let your child tell you what the picture is about – rather than ask “what is that” – ask them “tell me about your picture”. You may be surprised!

Most of all enjoy the experience – if you hate art or have an “I’m not good at this stuff” message just let yourself play – painting is a primal response to the world around us. Our inner child artist just wants to have fun.

Bold colours and assertive brush strokes - a positive indiction of self esteem and security.
Bold colours and assertive brush strokes - a positive indiction of self esteem and security.


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    • wayseeker profile image

      wayseeker 5 years ago from Colorado

      Lizam 1,

      I LOVE this hub! I just recently published a series of articles that talk about how we often destroy the artistry of children by trying to have too many expectations about what they produce. This idea fits in perfectly.

      I also have to point out that I'd never considered how electronics and such may be causing a reduction in the amount of painting and crafts children engage very sad.

      To top it off, I sincerely appreciate the comment about how this can make for bonding time with one's child as well. There's a lot of power to this little idea--bravo.


      Voted Up and Useful!

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thanks wayseeker - I love your hub handle! I was inspired to write this today when standing in for the colleague who manages our parent/tot drop ins and seeing so many parents divert their children away from the "messy art" corner.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is a lovely hub. My mother did not let me paint at home, but in preschool we painted all the time, and took them home. She put them on the refrigerator all the time. At home we had crayons. But they also went on the refrigerator. So, that for us was sort of our art "shrine" when we where children. Now we do the same thing for our child, even though she does not draw anymore. The art on the refrigerator is kind of old.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thanks. Kids art is beautiful....old art a wonderful memory.

    • savanahl profile image

      savanahl 5 years ago

      I really agree with this hub. I love painting with my 2 1/2 year old daughter. It's such a great way to connect with her, and I love watching her creativity come alive. Thank you for sharing.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thanks - you are creating such wonderful memories together.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I've worked with children before and they do love to talk about their work. It's important that we help them imagine and create. Moreover, I believe that it's OK to be messy. We must remember to use child-safe materials every time. My daughter Yna is just 10 months but I love playing with her - scribbling - although her fine motor development needs more work. I can see her so attentive to what she is doing. It's just a joy to see them play and create. Voted Up!

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Yna is a lucky girl:-)

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Very good information, i like panting with my 2 year old son especially because it brings out the creativity in him. Voted up and i will have to share this. Thanks

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 4 years ago from Victoria BC

      Dwachira thanks for reading and sharing.

    • SaritaJBonita profile image

      Sarah Jane Bourdeau 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Love, love, love this Hub! I used to work with special needs children, some of whom also had behavioral and/or emotional challenges. When I did respite care at my house, I used to set up a "mess-proof" zone outside on my lawn (when the weather was nice). A few old tablecloths or bed-sheets make for the perfect - and cheap - dropcloth. The Dollar Store sells poster board for a great price, and it stands up well to finger paint.

      I really tried to stress that they could have fun, use any or all of the materials I set out (all of them safe/non-toxic), and that they didn't have to worry about making a mess. I told the parents to dress them in "mess clothes" and bring a change of clothes with them. A little bit of planning and preparation goes a long way, and I always had just as much fun as they did!

      I also think that we're never too old for artwork. Try hanging a plain, white, flat bed sheet on your wall, with a shower curtain liner behind it to prevent the paint from bleeding through. Go to Walmart (or any other version of a cheap store) and get big bottles of acrylic paint and some paintbrushes of different sizes. Throw down a cheap drop cloth, line the edges of the sheet with masking tape or painters tape, throw on some music, and let yourself go! There is nothing wrong with throwing paint at the wall, because the artwork is for you and it doesn't have to be perfect.

      We all have a little bit of child in us, and I learn something new each time I do an art project with children. It might be time consuming, but it's totally worth it!

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 4 years ago from Victoria BC

      Sarita.JBonita thank you so much for the comment. I love the energy and enthusiasm you have for the inner child in us all. The exercise you suggested is great for getting together with girlfriends and for families too. The children you cared for were very fortunate.

    • purnimamoh1982 profile image

      purnimamoh1982 4 years ago

      what a beautiful hub! I completely agree with you the messy part of learning is equally important for an all round development in a kids life. Painting is certainly an activity to let the child explore the world and worlds. voted up and followed.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 4 years ago from Victoria BC

      purnimamoh1982 thank you for the vote and your enthusiastic comments.

    • profile image

      ashley 2 years ago

      I truly enjoy this hub, reading every ones experiences helps me to learn and grow from it and it enhances my learning to help my love ones as well.

      I grew up on a 1000 hectors of land and loved every second of it as all my siblings were allowed to freely express our thought, emotions and feeling using natural materials such as water, mud, sand, sticks, lids creating the heart felt design or patterns and filling them with food colouring. Comparing them with each others work to be more creative next time.

      I felt sorry for the cleaners to clean the mess and to this day I am a mother of two and a grandmother of two as well and we sill sit together and do arts, painting as each one in the family enjoys it.

      Painting is not just messy it is beyond that, it helps the family to bond together, share their stories and experience, helps to improve our listening and thinking skills and so forth.

      Our parents are no longer with us but we carry their legacy on from generation to generation.

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