Over the school holidays it’s a given that whilst the sun shines, we will be outdoors and free. Even if it isn’t sunny to be honest – a bit of fresh air does wonders for everyone’s mood and stops us going stir crazy. After all, there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. Garden, park, even a walk to the shops or to post a letter – it all counts.
With modern statistics showing children spend only half as much time playing outside as their parents would have done, it’s clear to see that there’s a huge generational shift in how kids are spending their time. Seeing children climbing trees and rolling down hills is rarer than ever before, with many kids preferring to just stay indoors and watch TV instead.
Not only is this bad for their physical health, but this severe lack of outdoor play also has a negative impact on their mental health too. From stunted social skills to obesity, there are a huge array of issues your child could be experiencing, simply from just spending too much time inside! So, if you’re worried that your child may be developing slower than usual and are concerned about how much time they spend indoors, here are some tips to encourage your kids to play outside and the benefits they will experience.
Increased vitamin D
Due to the lack of time spent outdoors, many of today’s kids are suffering vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms can include brittle bones, difficulty concentrating and increased tiredness. It’s no secret that the sun is a great source of vitamin D, so if reducing your child’s chances of getting the right levels of vitamin D into their system isn’t incentive enough for them to go outside, we don’t know what is!
To encourage them to experience more of the great outdoors, it’s essential you lead by example. If you’re spending all your time indoors, they’ll be a lot more likely to do the same. But if they see you regularly going for walks and engaging in outdoor activities, they’ll want to be involved.
Improved social skills
Especially during the first few years of life, social interaction is an essential part of any child’s development. But, if they spend all their free time playing alone indoors, their social skills are likely to be delayed.
Take them to somewhere you know lots of other kids will be, like a playground, and let them engage with the other children. Unstructured play is a great way to help your child learn behavioral as well as social skills, and will be a good form of exercise too. But before you hit the playground, be sure to check the local weather to avoid any tantrums if you get caught in the rain. Or, make the rain all part of the fun!
If your child is having a hard time at school or is feeling worried about something, a great way of letting them release that frustration is through outdoor play. Simply taking your child to the park and running around with them will not only let their stress melt away but also give them a chance to have some fun with you. You might find it does you the world of good escaping the never ending to do list of being indoors too.
Whilst our modern-day society conditions mean children to spend more time on their electronic devices than playing outside, this doesn’t mean we all have to conform. It’s undeniable that outdoor play has amazing benefits for a child’s mental and physical well being and, as a parent, it’s your responsibility to encourage them during their first few years of life.