Kids today don’t spend nearly enough time in the outdoors. Unlike your own generation and the generations that came before you, playtime for kids today mostly occurs indoors, and usually in front of screens of varying sizes.
Spending time outdoors is highly beneficial towards a child’s growth and development. Exposure to nature helps them develop creativity and provides opportunities for discovery. Moreover, outdoor play increases a child’s physical activity and reduces their risk of childhood obesity. We could go on and on about the benefits of spending time in the outdoors for kids, but the bottom line is, your child needs to spend less time cooped up in the house and more time in the outdoors.
However, not all children are willing to put down their tablets and go outside. Here’s how you change that.
Create a play area in your backyard
Making the backyard a more appealing place to play is one of the best ways to get them to spend more time outside. You can do this by setting up a sandbox, installing a play structure, or simply designating their own area to play with their toys and have games.
If you’re worrying about play areas taking too much space in your backyard, choose structures that you can easily store in a custom-built storage shed when not in use.
Children are more willing to play outside if their parents are joining them. After all, it’s not as much fun to play if you’re doing it by yourself, and your kid’s imagination can only do so much.
Regardless of your busy schedule, make it a point to join your child’s outdoor play from time to time. Toss a ball around. Play a game. Chase each other around the backyard. Apart from being a great bonding time, your child will see that you’re also willing to spend time outdoors, which can help increase their fondness for it.
Sports provide countless benefits for children in almost all aspects of health and development. It is also one of the best ways to get them going outside more often.
If your child shows an interest in a particular sport, encourage them to play in the backyard or take them to the park if the backyard is not big enough. If it’s a team sport, sign them up for the local kiddie team and show support to further motivate them. Playing the sport with them is also a great way to get them out of the house more often, as well as increase their physical activity.
Don’t reprimand outdoor-related dirtiness
Having your child spend more time outdoors comes with a price; and that is letting them get dirty, messy, and wet. The physical and mental benefits are worth it, though. So tell your child that it’s okay to get down and dirty when they’re playing outside; it’s often inevitable, after all.
Encourage playing with friends
Do you remember when you were a kid and you played with the neighborhood kids for what seemed like hours every day? Give your child the same opportunities to make great memories outside with their friends. Let them play outside with their friends (within a safe distance, of course) or invite their friends over for outdoor parties in the backyard.
Apart from the benefits of socialization, your child is also moving around a lot more, meaning they’re burning off enough energy to stay a healthy weight.
Go for walks, hikes, bike rides
Let your child experience nature beyond the backyard and the closest playground. Take them hiking, go on a walk around the neighborhood, cycle through kid-friendly trails. Make it a family bonding activity so that your kids can form good memories of the outdoors and become closer to it. Soon enough, your child will be the one asking you to go outside, not the other way around.
Cut down screen time
For many parents, cutting down screen time can be incredibly difficult. Expect reluctance and possibly even tantrums to come your way. Don’t give up no matter what–your child will eventually get used to less screen time.
Start cutting down screen time gradually. If they are used to staring at a screen for 2 hours at a time, cut that down by fifteen minutes and go lower and lower until they are at an acceptable amount for their age. If you suddenly cut their screen time by a significant amount, it will be harder to get them to follow.
Children today don’t spend enough time outdoors, but there are many ways you can change that as is apparent in this article. Help your child reap the benefits of nature by following these tips to heart.