Reasons Why Adult Coloring Books Are Perfect for Parents

How to get the most of adult coloring books when you are a parent

adult coloring pages - mother and son coloring
Coloring and drawing together with your child is a great way for adults to manage stress. Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Adult coloring books have been soaring in popularity, and when you consider their many benefits, it's easy to see why they've even made bestseller lists. For parents, this new trend offers a lot of upsides--and a few precautions. (If you wanna let your children try their hand at adult coloring pages, it's important to keep in mind that kids may feel frustrated if they're not able to work on complicated designs, for example.) All in all, these popular books can be a great way to relax if you're a busy parent.

How Adult Coloring Books Can Be Beneficial for Parents

  1. It's good for reducing stress. Like walking, adult coloring books be restorative and meditative, and let you tune out the world, says Marygrace Berberian, Clinical Assistant Professor of Art Therapy and the Director of the Art Therapy in Schools Program at New York University. (Of course, walking can offer lots of other benefits since it's a physical activity, so coloring should not be something you do to replace exercise--it can be one of the activities you do to reduce stress, like walking or yoga. And, says Professor Berberian, it's also important to remember that while adult coloring books may help reduce anxiety, they should not be thought of as art therapy, which is a process that involves a therapist working with the client.)
  2. It encourages mindfulness and focus. You can put your attention on the task at hand--creating your picture--and switch off or at least turn down the volume on all those to-do lists and other sources of stress in your life.
  3. It's gratifying. Another reason why adult coloring books may be so popular is that it's an easy way to achieve a sense of accomplishment. (And as parents, we all know how impossible it can sometimes be to finish any task without interruptions!) Adult coloring pages can be put down when you need to go handle an "I can't find my favorite socks" kind of crisis or a sibling fight and then picked up again, and when you are done, you can feel a sense of achievement.
  1. It's easy and inexpensive. As stress-relievers go, adult coloring books are fairly easy to do and don't require any special skills or tools (aside from the books and the coloring pencils or whatever you're using to color the pages). It's not like drawing or having to fill a blank canvas--there is no pressure or fear of failure. It's a no-fail, foolproof way to feel a sense of immediate gratification, says Berberian.
  2. It's a great chance to take a break from tech. From phubbing (or "phone snubbing") our kids and spouses to binge watching the latest series or documentary we're addicted to on Netflix, we have a serious over-dependence on tech and anything that grabs our attention away from screens is a good thing. (In fact, one of the reasons why Berberian thinks adult coloring books are so popular is because, in the recent past, we focused so much on work and tech; now, there is pushback against all that, and things like knitting groups or crafts or painting nights are trending once again.)
  1. It's portable. Got time to kill while you wait for your child to finish dance class or soccer practice? Adult coloring books are kinda perfect, and you can even chat with other parents while you work on a page. (They'll probably end up wanting to do some, too, so you might wanna pack some extra pages.)
  2. You can do them with kids. Many older kids can handle the intricate designs of adult coloring books, and even younger kids can give them a go by coloring a section--of, say, a mandala--with colored pencils. For tiny or more detailed sections, younger school-age kids can make color suggestions and be proud of themselves when they help their parents create a beautiful picture. Research shows that having fun and playing with your child is essential for her happiness and healthy emotional development; something as simple as coloring with your child can be one of the many ways you can bring joy into your interactions and relax and have fun together. But--and this is an important but, with a capital "B," "U," and "T"--there are a few things you should keep in mind when you color with kids.

    Don't give your child a design that's too hard for him to color. A child may feel like his abilities can't match yours and may feel frustrated if he can't color those intricate designs like mom or dad. (And kids, especially younger kids, will simply lack the fine motor skills necessary to color those tiny spaces.) Be sure to choose easier designs to do together and save the really hard pictures for after the kiddos go to bed, or if your child prefers, let her work with you in some areas and tell you what colors to put on others in the harder designs.

    When coloring with your child, don't give her rules or tell her what or how to color. And when she creates a piece of art, ask lots of questions and really enter her mindset, says Berberian. Ask about what's going on in the picture, or why she chose certain colors for certain things. And be sure to give lots of praise and encouragement.

    Branch out beyond adult coloring books and pages. Make your own drawings together and then color those designs in when you're done. One game you can play: Start by making a squiggle, then have your child add to that, and keep taking turns until you've created your own masterwork to color, suggests Berberian.

    Go outside and use sidewalk chalk to draw on the ground. In the winter, you can paint in the snow. And once you've finished coloring your world, grab a soccer ball, a Frisbee, or just some walking shoes and run around outside. Organize some fun outdoor games, or just run around and play hide-and-seek. Laughing with kids is not only good for them but one of the best stress-relievers for parents.

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