What To Do When Your Child Loves Scribbling On Walls

Are you weary of rubbing down walls where your child has scribbled? Here are some ways to reduce the mess without curbing their creativity!

By Sherine Paul-Solomon  • 10 min read

What To Do When Your Child Loves Scribbling On Walls
Children are naturally creative. It is our job to give them the freedom, materials and their creativity blossom to its full potential
- Jean Van't Hul

Is your child using the walls of your house as his artistic canvas and giving you sleepless nights? One of the biggest problems you could be facing as a parent of a young child is trying to teach them to stop scribbling on walls. Not only do the scribbles make the walls look shabby but are extremely difficult to clean as well. So, what can you do to prevent your child from indulging in this natural urge to express themselves? Here are a few ways for you to encourage your child to not scribble on walls, without curbing his enthusiasm.

Early struggle

Despite being aware that your child scribbles on walls, it can be challenging when it happens and all your efforts to limit the habit fail. Darshi Modi, mother of two-year-old Vihaan is trying to get her toddler to stop colouring on things around the house, including furniture.

She says, “It is a constant struggle to get him to avoid colouring on the furniture, beds, sofas and walls. We have spoken to his Montessori teacher and her advice was to reinforce and repeat the phrase, “only on paper”. Despite adopting her advice, Darshi is having little success with this strategy.

She says, “My son repeats ‘only on paper’ after me, and still colour the kitchen cabinets. I think even the constant reminder is showing very slow results.” As a strategy to reduce his scribbles, Darshi has stopped giving him pens and switched to pencils and water-soluble pens. Another medium that Vihaan enjoys using is a whiteboard on an easel, on which he draws to his heart’s content. He then wipes his scribbles away with a cloth when he’s done.


Expressing themselves

What To Do When Your Child Loves Scribbling On Walls

You might be wondering if this behaviour a cause for concern or not. Consultant Psychologist and Counsellor, Dr Shweta Sharma, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon reassures parents, “Scribbling is a sign of good development. Thoughtless and impulsive behaviour is natural for a young child. Scribbling on walls is absolutely normal behaviour. When children get random thoughts or imagination, they like to put it down on large empty surfaces. This is a healthy activity for child development and we psychologists include this in ART therapy.”

Darshi also found some success by following the advice of not removing the colours but instead allotting her son a time slot of 15 minutes to colour. Once the time was up, she tells Vihaan that his 15 minutes are up and that since the pens are tired, they want to sleep. A relieved Darshi says, “This is working for us as he happily bids goodbye to the pens and put them away.”


Language is important

What To Do When Your Child Loves Scribbling On Walls

So, what do you do when you spot your child scribbling on the wall? Your first instinct is probably to scold them. Dr Shweta advises parents not to get angry or scold their child for this behaviour, as the child could perceive it in a negative way and show their disappointment by rebelling.

She recommends, “To curb this behaviour try giving the child large sheets of paper, or maybe hang it on the walls where the child can reach. As they grow up, help them understand that it is hard to wipe the ink off the walls. Telling them this continuously and sitting with them can help curb the habit.”

She also notes, “Keep an eye on what your child is drawing. If they are using black colours way too much or scribbling in a rigorous way or digging holes in sheets or walls, it might be a sign of anxiety.”

Stay calm and be firm and clear in your choice of words. Keep the sentences short. For instance, use simple sentences like “Crayons are for paper,” or “Walls are not for drawing.” Also praising them when they use the designated space for drawing instead of the wall will encourage them to repeat the activity.

Parents’ experiences

What experiences have parents had with their young children and what strategies have they used to minimise scribbling on walls? Let’s hear from a few parents!

Give them enough material

Niveditha Kuttaiah says, “I think the opinion of children scribbling on walls varies with each parent. I would give my daughter a designated wall just to express herself. However, scribbling all over the house is being disrespectful of the space. In my case my daughter Hilah rarely scribbled on walls as we had given her enough drawing papers, boards and chalks to draw on the floor. We would lay out a large 5x6 size paper and let her doodle all over it. We still do it for fun.”

Involve them in painting their room

What To Do When Your Child Loves Scribbling On Walls

Ramya says, “We would teach our three-year-old daughter to paint by putting up sheets of plastic on the floors. We also encouraged her to use chalk and draw on the floor in the car park.” She found a way to mesh both activities together and turn it into a teaching lesson, “We got our daughter to choose the colour she would like for the walls of her room. This got her very excited in the whole process of painting her room and now she takes great pride in her new wall.”

Have exclusive books and pens to doodle

Batul Netterwala says, “My son is 19 months old and hasn’t really started scribbling on walls yet. However, he has newly discovered pens and he’s at the curious stage where he is trying to mimic everything we do. So, once he gets his hands on a pen he wants to write on paper. It can be any paper from a newspaper to envelopes, letters or documents.” To dissuade her son from trying to write on any sheet of paper, Batul has got him a dedicated book and pen for himself. We only allow him to use these two and not anything else.”

Plan ahead

So, what can you do to try and save your walls from squiggles? Plan ahead with alternate mediums for your child to use and pick items that are easy to clean or erase. Make sure that all these items are firmly fastened and safe before you let your child use them. Some of the options you can try are listed below.

1. Chalkboard paint walls

What To Do When Your Child Loves Scribbling On Walls

One of the most classy and easy options is to have a chalkboard wallpaper on one wall, which your child can frequently use. This way they have a designated space to let their creativity flow and can erase it to start on something new the next day. Make sure that you place it at a convenient height for your child to reach. You can give your child chalk pieces or chalk pens to use along with a duster. Get them into the habit of using the assigned space and cleaning it before they want to try something new.

2. Whiteboard walls

What To Do When Your Child Loves Scribbling On Walls

Another fantastic and easily available option for toddlers are whiteboard walls or boards. You can place two or three in a room so that your child has three canvases on which he can let his imagination go wild. Being able to erase and reuse the same space repeatedly is a huge advantage with this.

3. Glass boards

This is yet another surface you can utilise with your child. If you wish you can also keep it as a memory of their first work of art. Install it at a convenient height for your toddler, give them a few markers and see where their imagination takes them.

4. Washable paints

Washable paints are a fabulous innovation for parents with messy toddlers. You can also paint your child’s room with washable paint so that in case the need arises, all you got to do is wipe off the scribbles or stains on the wall before your guests arrive.

So, do not stress over your child expressing their artistic talent but instead this weekend join them and do a fun drawing activity together on a nice huge sheet of paper or a board. Happy colouring!  

About the author:

Written by Sherine Paul-Solomon on 10 May 2020.  

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