Though unavoidable, going in and out of lockdown in 2020 has impacted everyone, including our children. The Education Endowment Foundation found that it had a particularly detrimental effect on children’s language and speech acquisition.
Perhaps more troublingly, the difficult events of the last year and a half have brought harm to our children’s mental health too. Several surveys reveal issues such as poor sleep, lower concentration levels, and mental distress.
With schools now reopen and normal life trickling back into the home, we’ll no doubt see many of these problems begin to rectify. Best of all, there are things you can do at home to help nurture this healing process for your kids. By creating the optimum environment for their mental health and learning, you can help support their return to normal. One of the easiest ways to do this is with colour psychology.
Colour psychology is the exploration of how different hues can impact our moods, both positively and negatively. In this article, we’ll show you the top colour choices for your home that will bolster your children’s creativity, learning, and mental well-being.
When you think of the colour blue, what do you associate with it? Some see it as calming, like a bright blue sky or the serene ocean. This is how your children perceive blue too, and it can have a number of positive effects on them.
Research shows that the colour blue can help guide babies into a relaxing sleep, which means less stressful nights for them and for you! Its calming effects are so powerful that evidence suggests it can help active children with a lot of energy to relax. St Giles Blue from Farrow & Ball paint is a nice balance between vibrant and muted and makes a good base colour for children and babies’ bedrooms.
The International Journal of Advanced Research published a study that showed blue appears to stimulate creativity in children too. The study gave children between 8–12 years old a set of questions, one on blue paper and one on red. It found that the children who interacted with the colour blue were able to produce more “novel” ideas with a wider variety of answers. The red group, on the other hand, gave more “ordinary” answers.
Many people associate yellow with joy. It’s positive, it’s bright, and it’s sunny. This means it’s the perfect mood booster for both adults and children. A landmark 1993 academic study found that children respond positively to bright colours like yellow as opposed to dark colours. It’s also associated with better concentration and memory, meaning it’s a great colour to incorporate into your child’s learning. Many recommend its use in nurseries, but at home, you could incorporate this with a yellow desk in your child’s room, or with yellow pencils, paper, or books.
Psychologists recommend using yellow as an accent colour rather than painting a whole room with it. While red is well known for intensifying feelings of aggression and anger and isn’t recommended as a prominent room colour, too much yellow can also invoke this in children.
Green is both grounding and calming. It immediately conjures images of nature and tranquillity. The colour has so many positive effects on children that it’s hard to know where to start. Like blue, it can help children relax and even help babies drift off into a peaceful sleep.
That’s not all. While yellow is a great learning colour because of its ability to increase concentration and memory, green is a great addition because it can increase reading speed and a child’s understanding of text. These attributes mean green is fantastic as the main colour of a child’s bedroom, in their classroom at school, or at home.
It could be tempting to paint your child’s bedroom walls with a chirpy, bright green, but we would recommend a more subdued hue. These softer colours more closely resemble the greens we’ll find in nature for maximum relaxing effects.
Brown and beige can be relaxing, and they work brilliantly to complement bolder shades. These neutral colours are essential to balancing out the bright colours that inspire joy and creativity – because you can have too much of a good thing.
Schools often make use of these earthy tones. They tend to come in the form of light wooden furniture, but these tones may also be found on tables and classroom walls post-nursery. This isn’t simply because they’re common interior colours, but instead because research shows too many bright colours can be distracting and overwhelming.
It’s important to know that some hues aren’t always beneficial. For example, some children may be more susceptible to being overwhelmed or distracted by colour too. While the psychology of colour on neurotypical children is well established and clearly shows bright tones are positive, autistic and neurodivergent children often react differently. Studies show 85% of neurodivergent children perceive colour more intensely. This means bright colours can contribute to sensory overload, with a 2016 academic study showing bright yellow is particularly overwhelming for autistic boys.
Green is a good choice because studies have shown autistic children are often drawn to the colour. Pale pink has also been shown as a favourite colour of autistic children. Experts recommend keeping colours in the home light and muted to make autistic children more comfortable.
The pandemic has caused plenty of issues with our overall well-being. With the school holidays around the corner and our children once again spending more time in the home, it’s important that we do everything we can to support them. Incorporating tried-and-tested memory, sleep, and mood-boosting colours into their bedroom and your wider home can help provide comfort and relaxation as we begin to return to normal.