Let Them Get Messy


Kids. Mess. These two words should be synonymous.

Even though we as parents can get a little crazy when our kids make messes, we really shouldn’t. Making messes is actually an integral part of growing up that will make for happier, more well-rounded kids.

When multiple senses are stimulated, a child’s brain is more likely to remember what’s being learned. According to The Scary Mommy, “We have to be okay with glitter tornadoes and bead spills and random paint splatters on the white, white walls. Kids need mess. Kids need sensory play. Kids need art.” The more a child enjoys his experience via more than just one sensory, the more he will learn. For example, seeing the brightly colored paint, feeling it’s squishy sensation, and smelling it’s plasticy yet mysteriously inviting aroma, a child will not only have a better, more enjoyable experience playing with the paint, but will be more likely to remember it more vividly and better retain the lessons learned as well.  Just remember to always use washable paint, and you’re golden; my personal favorite is Crayola – it comes right out with just a little water.

This lesson can and should also be applied to other playing fields as well for example at mealtime and outside. “Giving a young child more control at the dinner table is a sure way to end up with a ruined carpet and stained clothes. The payoff? A confident, self-sufficient child,” according to What To Expect. “Bringing home stains on their clothes should be the least of your worries, because any way your child can use their body to do or create something their mind and muscles will grow and remember,” according to The Daily Crisp. So, when they go outside, encourage them to splash in the mud puddles after it rains, use sticks to dig up worms, and catch lightening bugs in their bare hands. Because let’s not forget, kids (and their clothes) wash pretty easily, but these memories will stay with them forever.

Not only is it important to allow kids to get messy for fond memories, it’s also fundamental in growing up. Children learn how to figure things out with cause and effect. “There’s no doubt, kids are curious. Rather than let that curiosity go un-checked and lead them into trouble, help them to discover in a safe space,” says The Daily Crisp. Even though it’s hard as a parent to not intervene, it’s usually best to allow your children to try to figure things out on their own in a safe environment with you watching. For example, when playing outside, if your child goes to taste the dirt, don’t push his hand away. Instead, he will taste the bitterness and (hopefully) spit it out or wipe it away, and will learn he probably doesn’t want to do that again. “If we always intervene before kids experience outcomes, will they learn? I work every day to overcome my urges to step in and prevent messes. Always think safety, but try to push your own boundaries,” a good tip from Left Brain Craft Brain.

Overall, it’s important to let your kids get messy in order to inspire open-ended thinking, imaginative play and create more well-rounded kids in general. After all, Left Brain Craft Brain says it well, “Life isn’t color by number.  It’s messy and confusing and constantly changing.  Giving kids the chance to create helps their brain learn how to think without boundaries,” and we couldn’t agree more.



The Scary Mommy

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

The Daily Crisp

Left Brain Craft Brain


About the Author

Becca Greenwald 

Health-conscientious (and tired) mama to two adorable little boys, writing from my own experiences. @beccababybrody

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