How Colors Impact Children’s Behavior and Learning

Child building tower with colorful toy blocks and learning about colors

Colors are everywhere in life, and no one enjoys vibrant colors more than children. If something is brightly-colored, it’s much more likely to catch a curious kid’s attention. So, with that logic in mind, colors can also be key tools for children’s learning and development.

How can colors impact a child’s behavior and learning? What impact does each color have on kids? Keep reading to find out!

How Can Colors Affect Children?

Kid plays with colorful wooden blocks

Many studies have focused on the correlation between colors and development, including a 2018 study that looked at how memory, emotions, and cognition related to colors and learning. The study concluded that incorporating colors into learning is a great way to help people understand new topics.

Those results are especially true for children because colors can evoke certain emotions and be associated with certain items. Colors can help kids recognize patterns and stay organized. Most importantly, surrounding a kid with certain colors can affect their behaviors, so parents and teachers must use colors wisely in learning environments.

For example, when kids are exposed to their favorite color, it’s more likely to boost their mood and make it easier for them to learn. However, kids that get overwhelmed easily may find it difficult to learn in an environment with too many bright colors. The colors of lights in a room could also influence a child’s behavior.

Overall, the colors that help kids learn may vary based on the individual child, but some color schemes seem to help most kids learn and express themselves, such as yellow, green, and blue. If you’re unsure what colors a child prefers, you can ask them which emotions they associate with each color. According to a clinical trial, most young children associate the majority of colors with positive emotions.

Impacts of Certain Colors on Children

Understanding how each color can affect a child’s mood and development is a great way to improve their learning abilities. So, let’s take a look at what each color could mean for children.


Kid wearing red superhero costume

Red is a dominant color that stands out no matter what it’s paired with. It encourages energy and excitement in children, so exposing a child to red can keep them active. However, too much red can be overwhelming or distracting for children. So, using too much red isn’t recommended in a setting where a kid needs to feel focused or relaxed, such as in their bedroom or classroom.


Happy kid with orange juice

Like red, orange is a vibrant color that kids can’t take their eyes off. Orange typically leads to happiness and enthusiasm, and it’s often favored by confident, extroverted children. When kids are exposed to orange, it can help them come out of their shells and be more social. Seeing orange objects early in the morning could help kids feel more awake too. It’s the perfect color to use in rooms where creativity and friendship thrive.


Baby with yellow duck towel

Most kids feel a sense of joy and laughter when exposed to yellow. The color can also be associated with kindness and wisdom. Kids often feel more concentrated when yellow is present, so it’s a good tool for helping children improve their memory. Kids who love yellow tend to be more optimistic and cheery. However, using intense tints of yellow in calming spaces could lead to anger and frustration, especially since too much yellow may make babies cry.


Boy looking at green plants

Green is a calming color for children that has healing properties. Using lots of green in a classroom can improve a child’s concentration, helping them with reading comprehension. If there’s lots of green in a bedroom, it can also help your child fall asleep easier. Many kids associate green with safety and positivity because of how it’s used for correct answers and green stoplights. Sometimes, kids who love green have a special appreciation for nature.


Kid and woman in blue ball pit

If kids are overwhelmed by bright colors like red and orange, blue is the perfect color to help them relax. Blue keeps children calm and content, and it can help them sleep or cool off after a stressful situation. A room with lots of blues can help lower a child’s blood pressure and heart rate. However, in some cases, too much dark blue can increase depression or anxiety in a child’s life, so it needs to be used carefully.


Girl holding purple flowers

Purple is a unique color that’s a favorite among many children because it’s eye-catching. It can contribute to a child’s creativity and overall well-being. Yet, it can also have calming effects at the same time. So, it’s the perfect color for improving a child’s imagination and emotional development both in the classroom and at home. Children who favor the color purple are often compassionate.


Girl plays with pink toys

While most people assume pink is a girly color, it can be beneficial for all children. It’s a soothing and comfortable color for kids, so exposing kids to lots of pinks can lower their heart rates. Pink is a charming color that tends to improve the mood of whoever is looking at it. It can help kids be more active and energetic. However, kids who are shy and introverted may be overwhelmed by too much pink.


Girl hugging brown teddy bear

Most kids aren’t drawn to the color brown, but it can be a stable and reliable color. Brown can make kids feel safe and encourage them to develop solid friendships. It’s a warm yet calm color that helps kids come out of their shells more. It keeps kids feeling down-to-earth, which helps them succeed in all areas of life. It’s a relaxing color that can benefit kids in any setting, but it works best when paired with vibrant colors so kids still get the creativity they need.


Kid riding in black toy vehicle

Many parents worry that black and other dark colors have negative effects on kids, but that’s not always the case. Black can relieve stress and create a sense of balance for kids. If children use a lot of black when coloring, it could be their way of releasing their negative thoughts and emotions onto the paper. So, stopping them from using dark colors could worry them. However, if they’re in a room with too many dark colors, they may become scared or overwhelmed.


Kids in white bedroom

White doesn’t have a strong effect on children. It’s a neutral color that can help balance out darker colors in a space. White doesn’t usually create stimulation or creativity, so an excess of white should be avoided in spaces where you want kids to learn and express themselves.

Ways to Incorporate Colors in a Child’s Life

Children thrive when exposed to a variety of colors, so plain rooms with white walls may not advance their growth and creativity. The combination of colors that surround kids should be chosen carefully to ensure that those colors have a positive effect on them. Here are some tips for when to use certain colors.


Colorful Kindergarten Classroom

In classrooms for young kids, colors are crucial. Kids tend to be the most focused and creative when they’re exposed to colors that enhance their skills. Here are a few colors to focus on:

  • Yellow – This eye-catching color will bring joy to the classroom while also benefitting a child’s memory and focus.
  • Orange – Orange can help boost the moods of kids in a classroom while helping them engage with their peers more.
  • Green – With this color in the room, kids can feel calmer, which can benefit their ability to understand new topics.
  • Blue – This is another calming color that can boost the productivity of children.
  • Red – If used sparingly with other colors, red can get kids excited about learning new things.

Vibrant colors can also be used in patterns or designs to help kids with organization and association. For example, many classrooms assign a color to each subject so kids can easily find the correct folder or notebook.

At Home

Child playing with colorful toys at home

The colors you expose your child to at home will depend on each room’s purpose. Rooms that are designed for learning and creativity should be filled with similar colors to the classroom. Purple and pink are also good colors to add to a playroom because they can encourage creativity in a soothing way.

In rooms where kids should be calm, such as the bedroom or kitchen, you can steer away from warm colors like red and orange, only using them sparingly. Relaxing rooms should focus on cool colors instead, like blue and green, to help kids feel tranquil in a positive way. Pairing neutral colors with vibrant colors is another great way to tone down a room. A child’s imagination doesn’t have to disappear completely just because they’re resting.


Colorful outdoor playground

Any space where kids are supposed to have fun, such as a playground or arcade, can be filled with vibrant colors. In an entertainment space, colors don’t need to be used as strategically as in a classroom because fun is the priority, not focus and comprehension. So, that’s why you may see colors less controlled in these types of settings.

When it’s time to play, your kid wants to be stimulated and excited, so bright colors are a great way to do so. Just remember that they will likely need to retreat to a calming space with simpler colors when their playtime is over.

Colors Are Important for All Ages

Colors can influence learning patterns and behaviors for all ages, whether the person is a toddler or an adult. Yet, kids have so much to learn in life, so they’re the most influenced by the colors that surround them. If you spend time with children, consider which colors will be most beneficial for helping them learn and grow in different situations.

Read Next: When Do Kids Learn Colors and How Should Parents Teach Them?