Parenting: Using Colours to Manage Your Child’s Aggressive Behaviours

Recently, I read the prologue of an interesting book called “Drunk Tank Pink” by Adam Alter. It discussed an interesting effect of colour – in particular, pink – that caught my attention. You can read more about it on Colour Matters but here is the essence of it:

Alexander Schauss presented his research in 1979 on the effect of the colour pink in reducing aggressive behaviour and potential violence. The pink in question was Baker Miller Pink, also known as Drunk Tank Pink after the walls of holding cells that were painted pink and found to calm violent drunks who had to spend the night in the lockup. The tranquilizing effect of this pink was so effective that it was used to paint the walls of holding cells where new inmates were processed and had impressive results…

“Newly confined inmates at intake are generally more prone toward violence than any other inmate. Before painting the experimental holding cell pink, duty intake officers remarked to the prison administrator CWO Baker that hostile behavior by new inmates was daily a “whale of a problem”. After 223 days of continuous use as a temporary holding facility for new confinees,” they reported that “there have been no incidents of erratic or hostile behavior during the initial phase of confinement.”

baker-miller-pink-420Anyway, I was intrigued by this piece of information because I have been rather disturbed by the increasing squabbles between the boys. Perhaps it is the holidays and too much time spent with each other, perhaps it is a phase all siblings go through, or perhaps it’s just the nature of siblings to fight – whatever the reason, I wanted to curb it. Reading this bit of information about Baker Miller Pink made me wonder if we needed a bit more pink around the house. But before I rushed out to change the colours of the walls in our house, I thought I should dig a little deeper…

Unfortunately, the Baker Miller Pink effect isn’t quite the miracle cure to violence and aggression I had hoped for. While it did produce some beneficial results for about the first 15-30 minutes, the effects did not last. It could even cause rebound aggression once the subject had acclimated to the colour. So how can we use this colour’s initial tranquilising properties to our advantage? And then it came to me:

Make the boys sit in a “pink” timeout.

Stay tuned and we’ll report back on the efficacy of our “pink timeout”. If you decide to try it yourself, do let me know how it goes in the comments.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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