Chances are, as a parent, you spend a lot of time remembering the “good old days.” You know, those times when you thought your parents were being horrible by making you spend time outside?
Now, as you fight your own children every day to put away their video games and other electronic devices, you realize how important fresh air and activity are for a growing body. But how can you get your kids to spend more time outside when everything they think they “need” is indoors?
As their role model, it all starts with you. To get your children to put away their indoor games and activities, you have to be consistent and encouraging. Here are some helpful ways to teach your children that being outside is a privilege, not a punishment.
They’ll Feel Better
Sure, this one is a hard sell, even for us as adults. We know that it’s important to get fresh air and exercise, but we’d still rather be comfy and lazy most of the time.
However, the behaviors you instill in your children young are likely to follow them throughout their lives, and this includes their love (or lack thereof) for physical activity and nature.
By encouraging your little ones to play outdoors, they’ll be in better shape physically, which will help them in all aspects of their health and life. With a lower risk of obesity, they’ll be less likely to develop chronic and dangerous medical problems, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Getting outside correlates to decreased stress levels, better social skills, and fewer symptoms of ADHD if your child has this condition. It can even help them get higher test scores because they’re in better health and can think and focus more clearly.
Give Them Ideas
Now that you know why your children need to play outside more, the hard part is convincing them of that. It helps if you start by giving them ideas to foster their movement and imagination.
Not all of us grew up in the outdoors or with active families. Here are a few simple ways you can encourage your child(ren) to play:
- Take them to the park, a playground, or anywhere with public facilities.
- Install a play structure in your backyard, like a swingset.
- Help them design and tend to a garden with plants that grow well in your area. Check out this online nursery in Australia for examples of how to use native plants.
- Teach them about astronomy, birdwatching, wildlife spotting, or entomology (studying insects). You never know what might grab their attention and become a lifelong hobby!
- Invite other kids and your own friends over for outdoor playdates. Plan a picnic, hold a tea party, or host a sporting event if you have a big enough yard.
When you’re the role model showing your kids how to use their imagination and creativity, you’ll be teaching them a skill that will help them more than almost anything else. Hand-in-hand with love and affection, your encouragement of outdoor activity is one of the best things you can do to help your child grow into a happy, healthy adult.