"Don't Write on Walls!" - How to Keep Your Child From Scribbling on Walls

It’s an age-old (or should I say “age-specific”) parental problem: how to keep toddlers from expressing their inner artist by writing all over the walls. Even I can understand the temptation, from the point of view of one who is barely knee height. Those walls are at just the right level, and super easy to put a writing implement to. And for an inborn artist? As the Italian side of my family would fondly say, “Fuhgeddaaboudit”! Those walls are in trouble (as are our moods).

Cris dealt with this with her daughter K. But she found an incredibly simple, yet not-so-obvious, solution.

Cris' family is a family of artists, so writing instruments and paper are always within reach. When K started showing interest in using crayons around fifteen months, it was enough initially to just grab a piece of paper and shove it under her crayon. But quickly she began searching for other places to demonstrate her toddler drawing skills.

All Cris' general parenting research had led her to the maxim that made most logical sense: Tell your children what TO do instead of what NOT to do. With that in mind, Cris kept telling K to write on paper. And still, K kept wanting to write on the walls. So instead of getting mad at her, Cris stuck up a few sheets of 12 x 12 construction paper with scotch tape to the wall.



White paper filled with child's drawings, taped to inside wall of home.
Voila! Every time K went to the wall to write, Cris would say, “We draw on the paper. Where is the paper?” and off K would totter, straight to the paper. It was a beautiful thing. Since K carried a crayon like it was an extension of her finger, Cris used the same technique on kitchen cabinets and doors K often hung around.




Now four, K draws every day, and she draws really well. She loves drawing as a means of expression, and it's a beautiful thing that it’s a part of her everyday life. While it's not perfectly clear that the decision to let her "write on walls" resulted in her creative nature today, it can be said with certainty that it didn’t hurt or hamper her natural inclination - an inclination that grows daily into a greater love.


And, in fact, there is a link between creativity and this non-restrictive approach. The decision may also have inadvertently improved K's flexible thinking and problem-solving skills. And while the process of raising a strong and open-minded child takes much more than letting her draw, the act certainly built her sense of competence.

So there you have it. Clean walls and happy toddler. Not to mention, happy parents, who got to keep their child’s earliest art. Not a bad combination, if you ask me!

What about you? What creative / inventive ideas have you come up with to keep your kids from doing something unwanted?