If you ever found your child scrawling squiggly lines along the margins of his books, you might want to give him a pat on his back or offer an encouraging word or two. Those squiggly lines might not look pretty to you, but they may bear testimony to your child’s creative juices flowing, helping him to focus.
Doodling, according to a study done at Plymouth University, helps your child deal with boredom. In the study, people who doodled were able to retain more information than people who simply took notes.
This means that if your child doodles while a teacher is teaching in class, it may not be true that he isn’t paying attention. On the contrary, he may be concentrating more on what the teacher is saying and doing. Growing up, perhaps you may recall an occasion when a visibly upset teacher of yours went up to a friend who was doodling on scrap paper, told the person off, or worse, took the paper and threw it away. Fortunately, as a doodler, yours truly was never found guilty in class, although some of the margins of my text books were filled to the brim with those irregular lines and patterns. I certainly knew the risks of getting caught red-handed, but the urge to doodle was far too great for me to ignore. I only had two options back then: Either I doodle or fall asleep.
A better understanding on doodling provides better insights on how the brain works, and helps parents and educators distinguish between positive and negative behaviours in children. Most parents and teachers see doodling as a sign of a distracted child, but the study mentioned earlier challenged this age-old notion. Of course, it takes a wise teacher or parent to tell if a child is simply ignoring them, or trying to focus by doodling.
Doodling may also be a way of putting concepts together, allowing the mind to roam free and express itself as it sees fit, as the doodler tries to make sense of what he sees and hears firsthand. The best doodles are spontaneous, not necessarily nice to see, but perfectly logical to the originator. Different ways exist for both children and adults to process information, and doodling seems to be one of them.
Think of it this way: Doodling helps to capture complex information. Rather than spend time writing words, words and more words, a doodler might sum it up rapidly in a way to jog her memory later.
I believe that doodling does clarify muddled thoughts as one literally puts pen to paper. If you are not a doodler yourself, you happen to be a diehard environmentalist, but your child loves doodling, perhaps she can have endless hours of productivity by using a graphic tablet – an electronic doodle pad that can save tons of trees. My daughter bought her first graphic tablet soon after finishing high school. She tutored part-time to earn enough to purchase one. Now she is a doctor and still doodles. It helps her to relax. Her work assists medical students and other doctors-in-training become better at what they do. Check out her work here. Her younger brother also doodles. Take a look here.
Proponents of doodling insist it not only help them find solutions to problems. Doodling may stimulate neural pathways that can increase creativity and confidence.
Not only that, doodling does help both children and adults to destress. At times, certain emotions could be so overwhelming, doodling can help wash them away. Not everyone wants to talk their problems out with another person. At the very least, those lines – snaky or flowy, curvy, coiled or curved – can engage one’s thoughts in a way that can boost emotional well-being.
The next time you see your child doodling, think again before you call it a time-waster. Perhaps it has nothing to do with lack of attention. Her learning process, how she tackles problems, finds solutions and develops ideas might not take the same form as yours. As for you, if you have never doodled, there is nothing to stop you from trying. I promise: It’s entertaining, stimulating and gratifying; all rolled into one.
Read the article in Malay: Doodling – Cara Mudah Memupuk Otak Anak Menjadi Lebih Bijak dan Gembira