Written by Smita Srivastava
“When will a toddler start scribbling?” The answer to this question is, once your tiny tot can comfortably grab a crayon they are ready to rock-and-roll! Give them a paper and see your little Picasso at work. Making those random lines, loops, and squiggles is a joy for your little bambino. Scribbling has lots of brain-boosting benefits – adjusting the crayons, applying pressure, and so on, involves a lot of mental gymnastics.
You want your toddler to start scribbling and keep this wonderful habit with them. But sometimes, parents unknowingly discourage their adorable ones by using incorrect feedback methods. The right words, and questions with affectionate conduct work like a tonic to boost their drive for scribbling. Furthermore, there’s a way through which toddlers disinterested in scribbling can also be made to love it.
In This Article
Your toddler will show you all the mesmerizing things they can do with crayons anywhere between 12 to 15 months of age. By this time they can sit unassisted. But because their motor skills are still developing, they use their entire fist to hold the crayon. Shoulders and elbows support their hand movements, which are not yet very precise.
Somewhere around the age of 2, as their grip improves, you’ll see them making bigger scribbles on paper. The scribbles will transition from ‘left-right’ pendulum-like motions to zig-zag lines, dots, circles, lines, and crosses. Their scribbling may not resemble any specific object to you. But, your toddler will find meaning in those random shapes and forms. This is similar to how adults look for face formations in clouds.
Scribbling fosters creativity and imagination in your little one. It brings immense joy to them, seeing that they can create colorful marks on the paper. During scribbling, no one tells them what to do and what not to do. Their imagination takes flight and finds expression through those loops, lines, and squiggles.
Scribbling is the first step to writing, of penning their thoughts on paper. Plus, they’re coordinating their hands and eyes while scribbling. So writing, drawing, reading, and communicating all will be much easier later on.
Once a toddler starts scribbling, it’s an important milestone for them. Scribbling benefits toddlers in many known and unexplored ways. Science has explored some of them-
The drawings of your little one are hints of their intellectual growth. The act of creating random loops and lines on paper not only improves their concentration but also forms new neural connectors.
The more they scribble and draw, the sharper their hand-eye coordination becomes. They have a certain shape in mind, and they use their hands and eyes coordinatively to draw it. This improved hand-eye coordination will benefit things like- handwriting, reading, and daily activities such as tying shoes in future. You might see kids having a certain type of handwriting in mind, and create it with little practice. On the other hand, some struggle a lot and have to practice much more intensely.
In many ways, scribbling and drawing are memory-intensive tasks. Your toddler recalls the events, experiences, and images they see in their everyday life during scribbling.
When toddler start scribbling, with hand-eye coordination, their motor skills also improve. The movement of small muscle groups in the hands, fingers, and large muscle groups located in the shoulders, and arms get refined. Such well-developed motor skills are not just limited to painting. Surgeons and musical instrument players also have very strong motor skills, especially fine motor skills.
According to ResearchGate, One becomes creative when their thinking has no boundaries. Your little one is not tied to any specific style of art, or ‘rules’ while scribbling. Such a habit of creative thinking will stay with them in their later years when they’ll need it.
Your toddler will eventually reach a point where they’ll want to intentionally draw something. For that, holding the crayon in different ways, and experimenting with applying different amounts of pressure on the paper comes naturally. To attain the desired picture, lots of brain gymnastics happen inside their tiny heads. All this helps to inculcate problem-solving ability in them.
As your toddler explores their imagination, you simply need to sit, watch, and listen to their stories. Ask questions, offer praise, and show interest and enthusiasm toward their scribblings. Your questions should focus on the hard work behind their art rather than the outcome. Your expressions, voice tone, words, and hand gestures, all matter to your toddler when they show you their creativity.
For example; questions like- “What is it?” often dishearten toddlers and children. That’s because the question unconsciously communicates you wanted them to draw something else.
Instead, you should consider the following approach-
Scribbling comes naturally to your toddler. It may be tough for them at first but with practice they gain the necessary skills required to scribble better by the day. Try out the following activities to help them in their scribbling journey-
There are other mixed media techniques which offer the same benefits as scribbling. Toddlers not showing interest in scribbling should be engaged in these activities.
For example, they might find it more enjoyable to draw and color using different surfaces and techniques like- drawing on chalkboard, on the ground, making use of rubber stamps to create imprints, using markers to draw, drawing on fabric, making ‘drawings’ by using glue and paper, etc.
If your toddler holds an object in their fist and finds it hard to release by 12 months, it’s a matter of concern. Around 18 months, they should be able to use a pincer grasp rather than a fisted one to grab the crayon. Parents must visit their pediatrician if they find their toddlers facing these problems.
Once toddlers start scribbling, it’s a phase that can be both enchanting and exasperating for the parents. While it’s fun to watch them explore and learn, it’s also distressing to see them scribble everywhere except in the place they are supposed to! But these are the moments that make memories. So, spend time with them as they scribble. Encourage them through your praise and enthusiastic questions. Have fun with them by using new techniques to make art. Remember, these are precious moments, so enjoy them while you can!
Yes. Scribbling is a baby step towards writing, in the same way, a baby’s cooing sound is the first step of talking. So, give your toddler plenty of opportunities and encouragement to sail through this phase and hone their skills.
Scribbling takes different forms as your toddler grows-
With a background in Mass media and journalism, Smita comes with rich and vast experience in content creation, curation, and editing. As a mom of a baby girl, she is an excellent candidate for writing and editing parenting and pregnancy content. The content she writes and edits is influenced by her own journey through pregnancy and motherhood. When not writing- She can be found curled up with a book. Or, bingeing on Netflix.Read more.
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