Creative Child

When Children Make Messes

by Allie Garcia

My husband returned from a week long work trip and opened the backdoor of our brand new house to find the entire yard covered in side-walk chalk. There was chalk on the ground where it belongs, but also on the walls, the screen door, the stucco, and the grill. He looked right at me, “Honey, what happened back here?!?” I gently reminded him that sidewalk chalk is washable, and that I was alone with a toddler for six days.

However, this situation is not an isolated incident. It is not uncommon for him to come home to my daughter covered in yogurt head to toe, blocks all over the floor, scraps of tissue paper strewn across the kitchen table, or ten or so pieces of finger-painted “art” taped up around the house.


Before becoming a mama, I taught in special education for six years. I taught students with chart topping IQs who had some fine motor issues, and students who were learning how to feed themselves with a spoon at nine years old. Making messes was an integral part to their education and a vital component to teaching them the skills that they needed to equip them to be successful in school and in life.

Now that I am a mother to a very independent toddler, I am reminded that not only should we not discourage our children from making messes, but that we should actually be fostering this innate desire in our kids, in order to empower them to be the people they were made to be. The thought process behind this can be narrowed down to three essential skills that children can learn when they are encouraged to make messes:

Motor Skills:

Like all muscles, the muscles in our hands need exercise in order to perform the way that they are designed to. Simple acts, like holding a paintbrush, using a spoon, or stacking blocks, help children to build their fine motor skills. When I give my daughter a paint brush and paint, the simple act of dipping the paint brush into the container, removing it, bringing the brush to paper and making a mark is teaching her all sorts of skills. To name a few, she learns hand eye coordination, spatial awareness, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills, while fostering her creativity and self worth.

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Related Article: 20 Fine Motor Skill Activities

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