Color Psychology & Children

kids bedroom clouds

Do you remember in Kramer vs. Kramer when the mother is painting a room with clouds?  At least I think it was the mother, maybe it was the dad?  Anyway, it left an impression on me of a parent trying to soothe a child going through a divorce by creating a feeling of safety in their bedroom.  What other feelings can we elicit with color schemes for children’s rooms?

The purpose of anyone’s bedroom is a place to relax, sleep, and for children to play or have privacy.  Colors for the walls, bedding and decoration, or the color scheme, can support these goals or work against them.  Generally cool colors – blue, green, lavender – have a calming effect, while warm colors are more energizing.  In particular red has been shown to increase blood pressure, heart rate and stimulation.

Color Psychology

Let’s look at the warm colors first.  If your child requests or loves one of these colors, use it in moderation, perhaps as an accent color rather than the main color for the room.  The main color could be a cool color paired with the warm accent.  Warm colors, especially when in bold hues, while cheerful, are stimulating, energizing, and thus better suited for a playroom.


Red is energizing and exciting, and even said to increase athletic ability.  This is wonderful, just not in your child’s room.  Red also has the most documented effect on physiology, increasing heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and even contributing to headaches or increased aggression, and decreasing ability to focus.

kid bedroom red


Pink is probably one of the most popular requests from young girl’s for their rooms, though they usually choose another color later in adolescence.  Interestingly, pink has an initial calming effect but over time creates some of the same effects as red, potentially causing some anxiety and unrest.

kid bedroom pink


One of the most cheerful colors besides yellow is orange.  Similarly to red, it is stimulating, though less prone to increase aggression.  It is said to stimulate mental activity and increase oxygen to the brain, making it good choice as an accent color around a study area.  It also increases socializing however, so may not be indicated in a shared study space with siblings.

kid bedroom orange


Cheerful yellow has slightly different effects depending upon the brightness of the shade.  A very bright yellow stimulated mental activity, memory and metabolism, even frustration and anger when overused in a room.  Softer shades of yellow promote concentration without as much agitation.

kids bedroom yellow

Let’s now look at the cool colors.  The cooler range of colors is more calming and relaxing, particularly in lighter and softer shades.  They are less inviting than warm colors, and therefore may be more indicated for a bedroom than say a living room.  Consider pairing your cool colors with neutrals and soft fabrics and details in the room, so the room doesn’t feel too “cold.”


Green is the color most associated with nature, but also heath and well being.  Green is a soothing color, particularly in muted or softer shades.  Green promotes concentration,  while also reducing anxiety.  It may even increase reading ability.

kid bedroom green


Lavender is the softer tones of purple, a color associated with spirituality.  Lavender may be a better alternative to pink.

kids bedroom lavender


Blue is probably the most recommended color for a peaceful child’s bedroom.  It is the color opposite red on the color wheel.  While red increases physiological responses, blue reduces them.  The color blue reduces anxiety and aggression, such as tantrums, and helps improve sleep and behavior.  Blue also calmly improves focus and reduces hyperactivity.

kid bedroom blue