Painting With Toddlers (For Reals)

Paint, little toddler, paint!

Painting with toddlers (or even toddler) is not always easy, unless you do a few things that work. What things? I am going to tell you.

1. Stop being bossy. Let it go. Forget about rules. Squirt out the paint, hand out the brushes. This is supposed to be fun, remember?

2. Let them help you. For reals. Don’t give them the fake stuff while you are using the real stuff. If this makes you nervous, see number one again.

Making stamps
Using ordinary things as stamps. This was a box from Valentine’s Day.

3. Assume paint will get in their hair and be OK with that. Besides, blue streaks and red streaks are popular for hair styles these days. Paint will also get on furniture. So, don’t do it around the fancy living room set you just bought. Wear an apron. Put your hair in a pony tail. Painting is messy and fun. Emphasis on fun.

Tiny-Small painting backgrounds
Working on the background together.

4. Don’t use toxic paint. Yes, all paint is kind of toxic, but some is more toxic than others (some have minerals that are not to come in contact with your skin). Do some research. Open the windows. Don’t paint with kids who still like to eat paint. Use precautions. Be smart about it.

More painting

5. Let your toddler take the lead. Seriously. We made backgrounds all week. Tiny-Small took a glass bottle and rolled it over my canvas. It smeared the paint and looked super cool. So, remember, toddlers are smarter than you are when it comes to creativity. They are actually geniuses. Adults often give that up as they grow up because they learn to follow rules, provide the “correct” answer and want to fit in. Your kid is a genius. Don’t believe me? Watch this video.

6. Create something together. It’s an awesome experience. When you put it in a frame and your child knows you are taking what they are doing seriously, it makes them swoon with love and happiness. We all want to be taken seriously, right? Sign both of your names at the bottom. Make it special. Make it real art because it is real art.

Finished background painting
Finished Background

Now, take off your bossy pants, and go paint with your kids. It’s an experience they will never forget. Plus, art makes you smarter. It also makes you human. Revel in your humaness. Be amazed by your child’s creative genius. I am telling you, it is totally worth the mess.


11 thoughts on “Painting With Toddlers (For Reals)”

  1. Love it. My older kid loves to paint and create. Her pictures hang on the walls and she’s old enough that messes are no longer really an issue. But now that my younger one is hitting toddler years I was just thinking the other day how I need to figure out how to involve her too. I find it helpful if I plan the messy activities to coincide with bath days. 🙂

  2. OK, no more excuses, I will paint sth with the little ones tomorrow!
    (Btw, I am not sure why but the amount of necklaces of S made me think of Frida Kahlo…Your girl has some style!)

  3. Loved this! I love taking my bossy pants off, and replacing them with my relaxed, cool mom sweatpants. It makes everything better. I am no artist like you, but more of a craft painter, but I have always taught my kiddos ‘there are no mistakes in art, just more art to be made’ Sometimes I feel like my mom quotes go unnoticed, but I actually overheard my older daughter repeating that same quote to a friend when they were working on a partnered art collage for school. Eavesdropping proved to be good in that instance, and left me with a proud smile.
    This was such an awesome post Lillian!

    1. I love that you have cool, mom sweatpants. You never fail to make me laugh! It is cool to hear your words of wisdom being uttered from your child’s mouth. Those are the moments you know you are getting through to them.

  4. There was definitely a time when I wore bossy pants while painting with my son. Then, I realized it was no fun! But I needed this reminder, and I hope I’ll do some exciting painting with him again soon. I love the background you guys came up with. The heart stamps add a nice touch, and the white parts look like fluttering birds. P.S. Tiny-Small in all her necklaces makes my heart melt.

    1. I hope you paint again soon. It’s hard not to wear bossy pants. Kids can really make a mess. My daughter isn’t too bad with her paint. She makes huge messes with food though. Now that the weather is getting warmer I am going to eat as many meals as possible outside!

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