Ask Dr. Jean: Kids and Nature


(Arti Freeman) #1

Dear Dr. Jean,

There’s lots of information out there on the benefits of getting kids outside and connecting with nature but it’s easier said than done. What do you feel are the most important benefits of connecting with nature and what tips do you have to help get reluctant kids outside?

Anonymous (Service Provider)

(Dr. Jean Clinton) #2

Nature surrounds us and yet so many kids hardly ever engage or enjoy it as you point out. The benefits of engaging nature are multiple, better sleep, better regulation, more fun and on and on.

The challenge we have is that there are so many things indoors to captivate kid’s attention. As well as young parents you may have had little time outside yourself so are at a loss as to what to do.

Like any change in behaviour you seek it is important to go slowly and aim for early success. Now is a great time of year to start as it is so much fun for kids to get out and play in leaves and to see you as parents being silly. You only need go out fir 10-15 minutes but once the fun starts that triggers the pleasure centers in the brain and you all will want more.

Key is that you as parents, actively dedicate yourself to achieve the goal of say 3 times a week spending time outside, initially together, to just play.

Here are some ideas:

  • Tell them it’s okay to get wet, dirty, and messy.

  • Organize an outdoor play date. …

  • Allow your kids to incorporate natural resources into play equipment. …

  • Set a timer for a maximum amount of screen time. …

  • Tell your children to go outside in the backyard and play . …

  • Plant a garden or flowers with your child .

From: 18 ways to get kids to go outside - Active For Life

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(Thea Silver) #3

This is great information. Thanks! People may also want to check out the Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter and the many resources it provides.