Colouring books are everywhere these days – not just for kids but for adults too. I was keen to introduce the practice of colouring as a relaxing weekend activity for my family but, although I was aware that the new colouring craze was somehow about mindfulness and stress-relief, I still couldn’t quite put it into words.
I have invited Carolyn Fitzgibbon, an Occupational Therapist who utilises the practice of mindfulness to assist clients in distress, and Nickole Webb, an Art Therapist experienced in working with children, to help explain what mindful colouring is all about in child-friendly language. This explanation has helped me understand as well as talk about the benefits of mindful colouring with my kids. I hope it will be useful for other parents and teachers who would like to try this technique too.
What is Mindful Colouring?
Mindful Colouring asks us to focus on how we choose and apply colour in a design to bring our awareness to the present moment. This process is similar to meditation, we let go of any thoughts about tomorrow or yesterday, or what we are going to do when we finish.
“In this current moment, I am colouring in.”
If we catch ourselves thinking about the past or the future, we can gently bring our awareness back to what we are doing in the present moment by describing what we are doing.
“I am picking up a red pen and will use it on all of the hearts in the picture.”
We need to let go of judging whether the colouring in is good or bad, amazing or terrible and whether we are good at it or not. There is no right or wrong way to colour in, it is a form of self-expression.
“I have coloured in the robots with blues and greys and the background in yellow.”
Mindfulness can improve our overall sense of well-being. We feel more relaxed by paying attention to the present moment. We are also practicing training our minds to focus which can help in our study and work.
“Colouring helps me wind down and calm down after the stresses of a day at school or work.”
Finding our own collection of beautiful drawings can be an inspiration to colour in. Be sure to find images that ignite your spark – these will make your heart feel nurtured and inspired.
Written by Carolyn Fitzgibbon and Nickole Webb
If you want to enjoy some colouring with your family, click here to find an extensive collection of free colouring pages for kids. Below are some of my favourite free printable colouring pages for adults (they are also the ones you see photographed above):
Dream catcher from Easy Peasy and Fun
Color my heart happy from Dawn Nicole Design
Today is going to be awesome via In the Playroom
Follow your heart from Mum in the Madhouse
Mandalas and more from My Dreams Matter
As you can see, the adult colouring pages are much more detailed (which would likely be frustrating for younger children). Don’t they look fun?!
I hope these resources inspire you to give the new colouring fad a go, and that Carolyn and Nickole’s explanation has empowered you with a few ways to explain mindful colouring to anyone who is curious about how it all works.
Have you tried colouring as a family activity? What are your favourite colouring pages or books?
Carolyn Fitzgibbon is an Occupational Therapist registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and currently practicing at Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Brisbane. She has extensive experience in Mental Health and works with children, adolescents and adults on improving emotional well being. Carolyn has also trained as a meditation teacher. Carolyn’s work as an Occupational Therapist involves supporting people to fully engage in their lives and reduce stress, anxiety, depression and self harm. You can contact her via her website.
Nickole Webb completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at Queensland College of Art, majoring in Illustration. While being Mum to three children Nickole taught art classes after school and observed how the children used the art process to express difficult emotions and encouraged insight which led her to study the Masters of Mental Health, Art Therapy. Other experiences include facilitating a MIFQ (Mental Illness Fellowship of Queensland) Art Getaway and working with children and teenagers, people managing disabilities, rehab patients and pregnant women using art. Nickole can be contacted at venus_hybrid (at) hotmail.com
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This is so great! A chilled out afternoon colouring in as a family sounds soooo great! Love the idea of sharing these ideas w kids too x
Chelsea Lee Smith
I have always enjoyed colouring so love adding mindfulness to the activity!
Having studied design and spent my childhood drawing I have been watching this colouring in craze from the sidelines with interest. I always thought (as a child) that colouring in was for people who couldn’t draw.. As an adult it’s just plain confused me! But I am so glad I read this as I have a new appreciation and a completely new take on colouring in (for all ages!). I might try this with my youngest – he finds it hard to unwind and is easily frustrated.. So it could go either way!! But maybe as an alternative to piano practice a couple of times a week it might give him a new release (as he’s not got the patience for drawing). Thanks, very insightful!
Chelsea Lee Smith
Yes Kate, I agree, they explained it so well and it definitely gave me a new appreciation for colouring too. So glad you enjoyed the post!
This is such a beautiful concept! Children are encouraged to connect their work with their emotions and this is so important. Thank you for sharing!
Chelsea Lee Smith
That’s a very lovely way to put it. Thanks for chiming in!
Love this. Can’t wait to print out some of these colouring sheets, for me and my 7 year old 🙂
I really like this concept, but I’m not sure how to use it to help my son. He’s in kindergarten and has coloring homework every weekend. He HATES it. During the week when he has writing worksheets he does those happily, but it’s like pulling teeth to get him to do four pretty simple coloring pages. His teacher says it is to help him develop hand strength and practice motor control, which I get. But she also “grades” on neatness. Any tips on how to shift this from a dreaded chore to something that will help his emotional well-being too?
(As an aside he has tested as highly gifted and is borderline Autistic, so emotional regulation is hard for him and he doesn’t have patience for work he’s not interested in).
Chelsea Lee Smith
I have one son who really dislikes colouring, and other one (the one in the picture) who loves it. My older son who is now 7 just never took to colouring, and I can imagine if he *had* to do it, it would be very frustrating. He is also highly gifted, and doesn’t like “routine” activities such as colouring pages… whereas my other (currently 4) has always enjoyed them to my surprise! I wonder if the teacher would allow him to choose his own colouring sheets, would that help do you think? Are there other kids in his class who also get frustrated? I would imagine so. Perhaps she would consider giving an alternative activity for those kids who would like it? Sorry that’s not much help, but your son is not alone in not enjoying colouring. I hope it turns out for the best and you find a good solution for him!
Bek @ just for daisy
My girls love colouring in and so do I! We’ll check out and print some of these, thanks!
I hadn’t really thought about it precisely that way before. Thanks for these resources. My kids love colouring in. They seem to prefer individual print outs rather than pre-printed colouring in books.
Chelsea Lee Smith
We have a few colouring books, none of which is filled up… but my boys love to choose a subject which I google and we print out a sheet for them. My youngest enjoys colouring but my oldest prefers a picture which he can add background for. I guess a full book can be a bit overwhelming?
You’ve done a wonderful job explaining mindful coloring! Even adults could benefit from reading this!
Thank you so much for this informative article. In this article you explain mindful coloring to kids very well. As a parent i really appreciate this.
yes definitely i have tried this technique and it is very helpful and relaxing. also thank you so much for putting such a great effort in writing this blog to help with kids development and mindful colouring
shannon s colclough
As a special education teacher it’s always important for me to have my students with their coping skill during difficult times. While during this pandemic I have learned all about mindfulness coloring and mindfulness as a whole.