Coloring is more than just a great way to spend time with your kids — there are health benefits that include lower anxiety, take away stress and improve cognitive functioning. It’s no wonder why kids love the fun and freedom of coloring. The big surprise, though, is the new popularity of adult coloring books as stress relievers. Take a look at the scientific evidence in support of coloring:
1. The Atlantic reported on the health benefits of coloring, specifically citing a host of research studies on the role of coloring in relieving stress. Among the studies they cited was the journal Palliative & Supportive Care which showed that art can greatly improve coping resources.
2. The journal Art Therapy found in 2012 that patients were able to lower their anxiety levels through simple, repetitive activities that included coloring in mandalas.
3. New York Magazine published an article by Penn State College of Medicine neuroscientist Jordan Lewis in support of adult coloring books. Lewis referred to new research in the journal of Disability Rehabilitation on how practicing creativity in visual art can improve physical health.
4. The journal Science offered some fascinating results on how different colors enhance specific cognitive tasks. Exposure to red tends to enhance performance on detail-oriented tasks while blue tends to support more creative efforts. Coloring is the ideal balance between the two in combining flights of fancy with the need to stay within the lines.
Although many children naturally love coloring, some might resist when it suddenly appears as a new and different activity. There are three things you can do to encourage them to color and get creative.
1. Make the materials available and easy to access. If they are too young to handle them alone, at least make them visible so your children get used to seeing them.
2. Choose an interesting variety of paper textures and colored pencils.
3. Start coloring yourself. When they see how much fun you are having, they will want to join in.
Nobody likes homework. Introduce coloring as a reward and spark their interest with a few coloring games. Here are a couple suggestions to get you started.
Theme of the Week
Materials you will need: Magazines, scissors, glue sticks, Faber-Castell colored pencils and blank paper.
Try a coloring game that combines competition with cooperation. Dr. John Tauer, professor of psychology at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, MN, concluded that a combination of cooperation and competition gives kids greater satisfaction and produces better performance levels overall.
Theme of the Week works best with an odd number of players so someone can be the tie-breaker. Here’s how it works. Choose a creative theme, such as animals, monuments or Ancient Egypt. Everyone gets their own piece of paper and one week to make it incredible. Every day you can add to it by drawing, coloring or making a collage with pictures from old magazines. At the end of the week everyone votes for a winner in the category of Most Creative, Best Use of Color or Funniest Story. The winner gets to choose the theme and the category for the next week.
The Emotional Animals
Materials you will need: Faber-Castell colored pencils and blank paper.
The Journal Pediatrics emphasized that play is essential for the development of healthy children and parent-child bonding. Here’s a coloring game that lets you fully engage with your child and get to know them better while they get some of that critical free play time that you need.
Take turns drawing animals that represent emotions to you and your child. Then switch papers and let the other one color in the animal however they like. Is anger a lion? Is shyness a rabbit? Is pride a dinosaur? Stretch your imagination muscles and go all out.
More Ideas Online
You can visit the Creativity Connection site for many more suggestions on fun crafts, lesson plans and news on creativity research. Start your kids out on the right path, expand your bonding time and improve your own health. The evidence suggests that fostering creativity is a great investment you can make in your child’s future.
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