There was a time when every child ran through the woods, picked up twigs, and came home covered in mud. Those good times are gone. Nowadays, parents would rather let the children play inside the house and keep them safe. But, is that what your child needs? Is not spending time outdoors and playing in the sand somehow influencing their growth?
The answers are ‘yes’. Playing outdoor has its perks. Not only it is a great way to socialise with peers, but your daughter will also learn and explore a great deal about herself. Outdoor playtime can help her develop some of the crucial skills that are essential in adult life. They learn to plan, analyse, negotiate, improvise, and multitask while playing. They pay attention to the environment, observe the characteristics of nature, and figure out how to work with them.
Running around while inhaling fresh air and bathing in the sunshine is good for their physical development as well. While running, jumping, swinging, and riding bikes, children learn to use their motor skills and coordination. They think and act simultaneously. While physical activity strengthens their muscles, sunshine boosts the production of vitamin D which is essential for bone strength and immune system. It is also good for developing good eyesight and a mind that is well associated with the idea of happiness.
If your child is hesitant to play outdoors, it will be a good idea to give her a slight nudge. Slide her smoothly into the environment, let her familiarise with the new amazing chaos around her, and help her to try a hand at it. If it sounds easier said than done, here are a few tips to help you along the way.
Supermodel Lisa Haydon’s Instagram is full of clicks of her hiking in the mountains and forests with her baby boy in a baby carrier bag. A child isn’t likely to imagine venturing out in nature if she is not familiar with the idea itself. The trick is to do it yourself. When your child sees her mom enjoying nature, her trust in you will extend to nature as well.
Start with going on daily walks in the park nearby. The sooner you start this tradition, the better. This will help your baby to get accustomed to the noise and movements of a public place. When she goes on to play outdoors in future, this will help her not to find the circumstance completely alien.
Your baby will be spending most of her time at home. It is important that the notion of greenery and nature becomes homely. Being close to nature has to be a typical part of life for her. It should not be something you go out and seek. Planting a small garden in the space you have at home, will encourage frequent interaction with nature. Even a vegetable garden on the terrace or backyard will do the job. Take your daughter with you while plucking the vegetables or watering the plants.
Children are often fond of swinging. Set up a swing outside the house or in the balcony or terrace. A used tyre to make a swing is a good idea. Paint it and make it colourful so that it’s attractive. Make sure that the child gets a view of the outside world while sitting or swinging on it.
Does she need a distraction while eating lunch? Go for the swing instead of the TV. As she grows up, buy a tiny tricycle. She can ride it in the yard or in the park or the street before the house. This will encourage her to go further and explore the outdoors.
The night sky is something most children doesn’t see. It could be a fascinating sight for them. Seeing the stars and the constantly changing moon will make them curious about nature. Counting the stars and watching the floating clouds will let them know that there is more to nature than what meets the eye. Tell them stories about stars and sing songs about the moon. The fascination will stop them from thinking of nature as something boring.
When you are in the park or beach or in the countryside, be sure to keep the phones and other electronic devices away. If you are using the phone, your daughter’s attention will surely follow. Instead, be in the moment. Let the child be in the moment. Le their mind wander. They will be curious about each and everything around them. They will ask you questions and want to touch flowers. They might even make an earring out of hibiscus pistils.
Listening about nature will ignite her imagination and evoke a desire to see it all for real. Several children’s books talk about nature. In fact, nature has an active role in children’s literature. The characters they identify with interacting with nature will encourage children to do the same. Some of the best literary works to read to your child are A Town Called Dehra by Ruskin Bond, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, and The secret garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Your child needs a habit of interacting with nature and playing outdoors consistently. Taking her to an occasional hike or holiday will not be enough. Find a garden or park closer to home. Try to spend at least three or four days playing there. Doing so will develop a habit which makes her strong and happy. She will be looking forward to these days. The bond with her playmates will progress in an unstructured environment. This will prepare her for dealing with surprises and ever-changing circumstances.
The temptation to guide her through the exploration will be high. Partly it is because you know the environment better and partly because you want to keep her away from risks. But the time and opportunity belong to your child. Be close enough to intervene if the situation calls for it. But, do not hover her time. Children often go on to do things that adults wouldn’t dream of. The sense of freedom and following her instincts in an uncontrolled environment will help her to develop confidence as well.
If you live in the city, do not think twice and utilise your holidays to take a trip to the countryside. Introducing your child to different types of environment will encourage them to explore. If you live in a coastal town, take a trip to the mountains. Show them something that they haven't seen before, like a field of flowers or boats or national park. This will plant a seed of curiosity and make them feel like that there is more in the world.
The pet doesn’t have to be your child’s responsibility