Most parents have heard the unison complaining as we try and get our kids to play outside more. It can be an exhausting job if you don’t have a routine and a lot of us are out of ideas and feeling drained. The daily competition with screens sometimes just doesn’t seem fair.
Who feels constant guilt that their kids are not in nature enough or looking at screens too much throughout the day?
We all know the benefits of outdoor play. Besides it providing exercise, enhancing eye development and building immune health, playing outside is good for our brains. Mindfulness play comes alive outside and this can help with a child’s mood, sleep and energy levels.
We’ve gathered a few unique tips to help nudge them outside without using it as a punishment which can often be a default. (Even that strategy has some merit because once a kid STARTS to play outside and finds their niche, it can be hard to reel them in!)
It’s all about the “challenge”.
Kids love “dares” and “games” that encourage them to complete a task. It sets a much more positive tone instead of them feeling like they’re being bossed around. Think of the difference between “I challenge you to create the best outdoor fort ever!” vs “Go outside and build a fort please.” Big difference!
They’re going to be more excited by a challenge.
8 Outdoor Challenges to Inspire Your Child
- Encourage them to create a scavenger hunt using nature items such as leaves and acorns.
- Challenge them to collect as many dandelions as possible; enough to spell their name in the grass.
- Encourage them to put on a show or play, all outside.
- Have an “hours outside” challenge throughout the month where the prize is a field trip to a fun outdoor place. Tracking sheets are available here.
- Tell them to get as dirty as they want! This will truly excite some children!
- Challenge them to have a pretend outdoor restaurant with mud pies and leaf salads.
- Help provide all the tools they need to plant their very own fairy or troll garden.
- Suggest they run an obstacle course complete with rocks to jump over and trails to weave through. Have them challenge themselves!
The key is to help your child build fond memories of playing in nature to ensure a lifetime of prioritizing opting outside. Going outside with them is a great way to encourage nature play as well, but it’s a gift for them to learn how to go out on their own and explore. It’s a wellness tool they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
What other “challenges” have you used to motivate your child to #optoutside? By shifting our attitudes towards the struggle, we may very well help to shift the way our child sees the great outdoors.