Are you a bit concerned about how little enthusiasm your children seem to have for spending time outside? Modern day life seems geared up to keep kids glued to flickering screens, and our reluctance to let children go outside and play on their own means they’re missing out on the kinds of adventures we used to have. If you want to address this, here are a handful of ways you can encourage your children to get outdoors…
Lead by example
As is true for pretty much everything when it comes to parenting, the best way you can encourage children to do something is to lead by example. So, make a habit of walking rather than getting in the car whenever you can, and head out for a run once in a while if someone else can look after the kids for half an hour. Be sure to loudly exclaim how much you look forward to being outdoors, and tell your kids that you always feel better if you spend a little bit of time outside each day.
Heap on the praise
Whenever you’re able to get the children outdoors (be it for a family walk or a leg stretch into the town centre, for example), be sure to praise them. “Your legs are so strong, I’m so impressed with how far you’ve walked today!” will motivate even the weariest children to keep going, or, “you were running so fast at the park today I could barely see you!” will help children to feel that being outside is a really positive thing.
Kit them out in clothing they like
Another thing to consider when trying to get children to spend more time outdoors is to make sure they have suitable clothing. There’s not a child in the world that will look forward to going outside if they’re being made to wear a coat they’re embarrassed of or simply don’t like – looking cool or at least liking their clothing is strangely important! So, make sure your children are kitted out in clothes that are good quality and tick the boxes on the style front. Buy kids coats and waterproof jackets, vibrant wellies, colourful scarves, fun hats and anything else that will get them outdoors in all weathers.
Devise games to play outdoors
A good trick for getting kids to spend some time in the fresh air (and keep them there for longer) is to lend a little structure to it. So, why not kick off the weekend with a walk in the countryside, for example? You can set them a checklist to tick off, foraging for pine cones, twigs, leaves, spider’s webs and creepy crawlies. Or, do some imaginative role play, tracking dinosaurs or grizzly bears through the woods – twigs and sticks act as great props, and double as excellent faux-weapons if a monster gets a little too close for comfort…
Failing that, remove all other options
Sometimes children can find it hard to motivate themselves to go outdoors, especially if they have iPads, computers, games consoles and other types of screens to occupy them.
If you’re struggling to get them off the sofa, simply ban their devices for a little while. You won’t be popular, but boredom will quickly set in and heading outside will seem like a far better option than helping out with the chores! Reinstate the devices once you’ve established a better balance between indoor play and time outdoors, and set to work educating your kids about using technology in moderation if you think that’s part of the problem in your home.