Toddlers are naturally curious and are still learning boundaries. If you’ve caught your toddler doodling on the walls, remember not to react in anger. Instead, use simple language to stop them and redirect them to an acceptable drawing space. Remind your toddler that you enjoy their scribbles so long as they’re not on the walls.
EditResponding to Wall Scribbles
- Use clear language to stop the toddler from drawing on the wall. As soon as you see the child writing or drawing on the wall, calmly tell them to stop. Instead of lecturing the toddler about why we don’t write on walls, use short sentences to get them to stop.
- For example, say, “Put the crayon down, please! Walls are not for drawing.”
- Ask the toddler to help you clean the wall. Let the toddler know that they’re not in trouble for scribbling, but that the wall is not the place to do it and now the wall needs to be cleaned off. Don’t use cleaning as a punishment or they may associating drawing with punishment.
- For example, say, “This wall has crayon on it now. Please help me clean it off. Then, we can draw on paper at the table.”
- Thank your toddler when they help you clean up their scribbles. This will help reinforce the idea that you prefer clean walls, and it will make their actions seem valued.
- Redirect the toddler to an appropriate drawing space. It’s important to let your toddler know that drawing and scribbling are great as long as they’re in the right place. Once you’ve told the toddler to stop scribbling on the walls, show them where they’re allowed to write.
- You might say, “Let’s go over to the easel and I can watch you draw a picture.”
- Avoid reacting in anger to your toddler’s scribbles. Never hit or yell at a toddler when you see that they’ve written on the walls. Reacting in anger can damage your relationship and make it more likely that the toddler will keep drawing on the walls to get a reaction.
- It’s fine to let your toddler know that you’re sad that they wrote on the walls. Your sadness may signal to the child that they need to be more thoughtful.
EditEncouraging Appropriate Drawing
- Keep messy art supplies out of reach when they’re not in use. While you’re training your toddler to not write on the walls, ensure that they don’t have access to the art supplies without supervision. Put them on a high shelf, in a cabinet with a lock, or in the closet of a closed-off room.
- Purchase washable art supplies such as non-toxic washable crayons, markers, and paints. Washable supplies will be easier to wash off of the walls if your toddler makes a mistake.
- Avoid letting your child write or draw with permanent pens and markers.
- Stay with your toddler while they’re scribbling. It may take some time for your toddler to learn that the walls aren’t for drawing. In the meantime, always supervise them while they’re drawing, painting, or coloring. Gently correct them if they move away from their drawing space.
- For example, if the toddler gets up and goes over to the wall while they have a marker in their hand, say, “You need to come over to your paper. Markers aren’t for walls.” Then, offer them thanks or praise when they start using their paper.
- Set up an easel or large pad of paper on a board. Some toddlers prefer to write on the walls because it’s easier for them to stand and scribble instead of sitting. To make it easier for them to draw, put up an easel or prop a sturdy board up against the wall. Attach a large pad of paper to the easel or board.
- If you’re using the board, ensure that it won’t fall or slide out from under your toddler.
- Offer whiteboards with erasable markers. If your toddler loves to take markers to the walls, give them a large whiteboard to scribble on. Set out non-toxic dry erase markers and show them how they can erase their drawings once they’re done with them.
- Remember to keep the markers out of reach when your child has finished drawing on the whiteboard.
- Show your child other acceptable places to write. Your child might write on the walls because they seem like a fun or unusual place to create. Take your curious doodler outside and let them use chalk or sidewalk paint on the sidewalk or patio. If it’s winter time, give them colored water to paint the snow with. During playtime, give them papers in a variety of colors and textures to experiment with.
- For a fun indoor space, buy bath crayons or paints and let your toddler write on the tub during bath time.
- Praise your toddler when they use a designated drawing space. Kids respond well to positive feedback, so it’s important to reward good behavior every time you see it. Your toddler will be pleased that you appreciate and are interested in their drawing.
- For example, watch your toddler color for a minute or two on an easel or writing pad. Then say, “I love watching you write on your nice paper!”
- Be consistent and patient with your toddler. It may be hard for them to understand the difference between drawing on one surface versus another.
- Consider keeping toddler art work for their baby book or use it as wrapping paper for grandparent gifts.
- Clean Crayon off Painted Walls
- Remove Crayon from Wallpaper
- Make Shimmering Finger Paints
- Teach Manners to a Toddler
- Know Why a Child (Under 2) Is Crying
EditSources and Citations
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