Painting With Children

Mommy, Can I Help?

It doesn't seem to matter much what it is you decide to do, if you have children, they want to be involved in the interior decorating. That is a good thing. The challenge is that a simple project can become as complicated as herding cats when it comes to having kids involved.

The real secret to success in having children involved in a paint project is to give them a specific job that is theirs alone. They have to know that NOBODY else can do this job. Children want to be part of what is going on and it is a normal and natural thing. What that boils down to is explaining clearly and accurately what you are trying to accomplish and what their part is in the project. When the ground rules are clear, most kids play by them.

Give Them Jobs That Are "Theirs"

If your children are very small, you will want to have them cared for outside of the project environment. If they are old enough to help, then while you are busy taping trim, have them spread the drop sheets on the floor and the furniture. This could take a while because it can become a game for them very quickly. Bring out the painting tools and teach them how to use the brushes and the rollers. Give the older children jobs like painting trim and the little ones can apply paint to the walls with a roller. The technique can be taught under your guidance, without paint, until they get the hang of it.

Keep Them Safe With Zero VOC Paint

Purchase non-toxic, no VOC paint, a brand that offers a guaranteed coverage in one coat. The paint can be poured into trays and distributed to older children to begin painting. Little ones should never be given their own tray and the children should not be allowed to pour the paint themselves-that is an adult's job. Give the children their own designated space and, as you work, keep your eye on them. You want the paint on the wall and trim. However, allow them freedom of expression as they begin to explore their own creativity. It could be the beginning of a beautiful thing and they will remember painting as a fun family time.

Once the majority of what they can do has been accomplished, give them something to paint on that will continue to occupy them without endangering other walls. Generally, by the time the bulk of the painting is done, so are the kids.

A Place For Mini-Picasso

If you aren't too sure about having them help paint the walls, a small "artist" set-up in the middle of the room is helpful in keeping them busy while you work. Set a table and chairs on top of plastic or a drop cloth. Supply the children with paints and paper and cover them well. They can work on their art while you work on your walls. Chances are, once the children figure out that your type of painting is work, they'll find something else to do. Give them a hug of gratitude and do the clean up yourself.