Your child’s doodles are not ‘just a waste of time’. Read on to know the many benefits of doodling.
By Leena Ghosh
In the margins of your child’s school notebooks, you may often find drawings of flowers, lines or different geometric designs. During long lectures or boring classes, children often tend to scribble pictures of objects or people. Even adults are sometimes guilty of doodling during long boring meetings or conferences.
If you worry that your child is not paying attention in class, because she is busy doodling, do not fret as research has proved that scribbling random designs actually benefits a child and increases her retention power. According to a study by Jackie Andrade, titled ‘What does doodling do’ (2009) published by John Wiley & Sons, doodling helped participants remember 29 per cent more information than those who did not doodle.
Besides boosting memory power, doodling has many other cognitive benefits and enhances your child’s motor skills. Following are some of the benefits of doodling:
1. Builds memory power: Doodling helps the brain to stay alert for a long period and, as a result, process more information. When listening to a long lecture, the brain tends to ‘switch off’. Doodling prevents that by engaging the brain without the individual losing interest in what’s being said. It also helps the brain fill in gaps in thinking and processing the information it is receiving.
2. Relieves stress: Ever heard of adult colouring books that help relieve stress? Doodling has the same effect on children. Psychologist Christine Selby, in her book ‘Chilling Out: The Psychology of Relaxation’, says that drawing a continuous line that curves and crosses itself many times across a page helps people relax and unwind. Since there is no pressure of ‘painting a good picture’, doodling helps you feel more zen because of its simplicity.
3. Improves focus: Contrary to popular belief, doodling doesn’t distract. It helps stay engaged and alert. In fact, according to research, doodling helps improve concentration as it prevents an individual from daydreaming.
4. Enhances creativity: According to Sunni Brown, the author of ‘The Doodle Revolution: The Power To Think Differently’, doodling helps activate different areas of the brain which usually remain dormant while an individual is processing word-heavy information. This helps a person to arrive at creative solutions to a problem while he is doodling.
5. Helps express emotions: Doodling is often a reflection of the unconscious mind. Dr Robert Burns, former director of the Institute for Human Development at the University of Seattle, who used doodles to diagnose emotional expression, stated in his article published in In Health (1991) that "even the most innocent doodle may carry messages from the unconscious". So, a doodle may often reflect the individual’s state of mind and emotions.
So, the next time your child doodles while watching an educational clip or documentary, don’t ask him to stop. It’s just one way he’s trying to focus and learn.
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