Kids today have so many distractions. Between TVs, video games, smartphones and all the other devices that have taken on major roles in our modern lives, convincing your children to spend more time outdoors may be a challenge.
However, it’s still a goal worth prioritizing. Introducing your children to the wonder of nature at an early age boosts their odds of embracing it on their own later. The following are key reasons this is important:
Nature Promotes Mental Wellbeing
You probably realize that spending time outdoors yields certain immediate benefits for kids. For example, they’re much more likely to burn calories playing outside than playing a video game. This helps guard against such health issues as childhood obesity.
That said, spending time in nature also leads to long-term benefits that are equally worthy of your attention. Research shows that kids who have access to green spaces (and take advantage of them) during childhood are more likely than others to grow up into mentally healthy adults. You don’t need anyone telling you why that’s important!
Outdoor Activities Promote Socializing
Many of the ways kids have fun now don’t give them chances to connect with others. For example, spending time on social media is no replacement for actually socializing with friends.
That’s another reason you want to emphasize the value of outdoor play. The types of games kids play outdoors are simply more conducive to socializing than many indoor activities. Thus, spending time in nature with other kids helps your child develop social skills that will be very useful later in life. Additionally, socializing has also been shown to promote greater mental and physical health.
It Guards Against Illness
Children who play outdoors are frequently exposed to sunlight. While it’s important to protect them with sunblock, you also need to remember that a little bit of sunlight is good for a child as it provides them with Vitamin D. This strengthens their bones and helps them fight off certain illnesses.
Outdoor Play Helps Kids Develop Life Skills
Play is important in general. That said, kids need to play in a variety of different situations and environments.
That’s because different activities offer different benefits. For instance, many indoor-based games involve following set rules. Learning to follow rules is obviously important for a child’s development.
However, children also need opportunities to participate in the kind of unstructured play that more often occurs outdoors. This is key to developing executive functioning skills such as planning, multitasking, and focusing their attention. Such skills directly apply to other areas of a child’s life as they grow up, including school and work.
That’s why you shouldn’t throw in the towel and accept that your kids don’t like playing outdoors. They’re simply growing up in a time when diversions and distractions are immediately available on any of the numerous devices they have access to. As parents, it’s our job to remind them that more rewarding experiences could be waiting outside the door.