There Are Benefits for Parents and Child
Computers and other gadgets have become pivotal in the lives of most people under 50. Technology is infused into your children’s everyday lives in ways most of us never imagined. Whatever happened to playing outside?
Most technology involves a lot of sitting still, which uses something other than our children’s natural abundance of energy.
However, if you’ve ever tried to get your kids to unplug from these devices, you know what a chore that can be!
You’ve most likely set limits on how long your kids can fiddle with their gadgets. However, they’ll need help finding things to do when they can’t plug in. So why not play outside as a family?
Physical benefits of playing outdoors with children
There are physical and psychological benefits to getting the kids outdoors to play and for parents to join them.
The most obvious is that outdoor play increases physical activity, which helps children maintain a healthy weight, strengthen their bones and muscles, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Even more than that, outdoor play allows children to develop their motor skills, including hand-eye coordination, balance, and agility.
Children can enhance their gross motor skills by running, jumping, and climbing, while smaller movements such as digging, building, or playing a sport can improve their fine motor skills.
Use activities like playing with balls and other equipment and encourage them to climb and find things they can balance to improve their strength and confidence. Join them in running, jumping, and hopping games. As they age, the family can ride bikes, ski, snowboard, go rafting, or do other physical activities.
Finally, playing outdoors provides children with exposure to nature and fresh air, which can enhance their respiratory and immune systems and improve their mood and overall well-being.
All of these are good for adult parents as well.
Psychological Benefits of Outdoor Play
In addition to physical benefits, playing outdoors also offers psychological benefits for children.
Unorganized outdoor play promotes increased creativity and imagination as children are encouraged to explore and discover new things in their environment.
Play is a child’s work.
Please enable opportunities for them to create new games, engage in role-playing, and engage in imaginative play, which can enhance their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. As they grow, include gardening and yard responsibilities. This helps to get the whole family outside and appreciate the idea of teamwork as family work.
Organized play, like team sports, and additional activities like camping and hiking contribute to the development of character and a child’s mental health by helping to reduce stress and anxiety levels. In addition, being in nature and participating in physical activity has been shown to have a calming effect on the body and mind.
Children walking with you or playing outside may be willing to talk more, and you will get a deeper insight into their thinking and personalities. In addition, when playing with other children outdoors, they will develop their social skills as they interact and communicate with their peers, negotiate and collaborate on games, and develop their emotional intelligence. These skills are essential for building healthy relationships and social connections throughout their lives.
A couple of notes: We all want our children to grow up safely and in good health. Sun protection, water safety, playground safety, and protection from some outdoor pests like ticks and other insects are part of a parent’s responsibility to their kids. In addition, teaching them about cooperative play will add to the safety of those times you are on the playground with others.
Outdoor activities provide a unique opportunity for parents to connect with their children in a different way than is possible indoors. Engaging in activities such as hiking, camping, or playing sports requires teamwork, communication, and trust, which can help strengthen the bond between parents and children
Outdoor activities also offer an escape from the stresses and distractions of daily life, allowing parents and children to focus on enjoying each other’s company and the beauty of nature.
In addition, playing outside together allows parents to be more involved in their children’s lives and interests. By participating in activities that their children enjoy, parents can show their support and interest in their children’s hobbies and passions, building a sense of trust and open communication between parents and children, as children feel heard and valued by their parents.
Outdoor activities also allow parents to model healthy behaviors and habits for their children. Parents can instill a love of nature and a commitment to staying active and healthy by engaging in physical activity and spending time outdoors with their children. This can help reinforce positive habits and values that can last a lifetime.
My youngest son was never interested in sports, going outside, or outdoor activities. Instead, he enjoyed reading, watching movies, creating movies, and writing stories. So I had to be accepting of that while at the same time offering opportunities and making time when we would be outside doing the simple things.
Today, some 30 years later, he is an avid runner, uses his bike to get to work 10 miles from his home, and enjoys the outdoors more than I ever saw him do when he was young. The lesson is that as parents, we need to do what is best for our children in a way that respects their likes and dislikes and does what is best for their health, success, and long-term happiness. So if you have a young child, start early. If they are older and are like my son, help them to step outside their comfort zone without disrespecting what they love. In the end, they will likely enjoy a variety of activities, both indoors and outdoors.
Ultimately, outdoor activities are powerful for building strong and healthy relationships between parents and children. By spending time together outside, parents can create shared experiences and memories that can last a lifetime and strengthen the bond between them and their children. Likewise, spending time with your children outside the house builds a strong and healthy relationship, fostering a sense of trust, respect, and love that can carry over into all aspects of family life.