Our busy lifestyle leads us to be satisfied entertaining our kids with electronic media like tablets or television. But every child needs to play outdoors for his or her physical, social and emotional wellbeing. Find tips to encourage your children to make outdoor play a part of their routine here.
The world is changing so quickly. When we were young, our parents found it tough to get us to stop playing and come into the house; and today we find it difficult to make our kids go and play out of the house.
Our kids are as attached to electronic tablets, computers, mobile phones, video games and television shows now, as they once were to the umbilical cord in their mothers’ womb! What with 40 to 60 hours a week spent with the hypnotic entertainment of media and the rest of their time spent with school activities; outdoor play has become a nonentity in their lives.
Benefits of Encouraging Outdoor Sports
While the benefits of outdoor exercise and fresh air have been extolled for generations, new studies have shone a light on some lesser known benefits of the great outdoors upon children:
Getting dirty is healthier than playing with gadgets
A report by the National Wildlife Federation has found that letting children get dirty outside is much better for their health as compared to letting them spend time with their clean hi-tech gadgets which makes them more vulnerable to ADHD
, vitamin D deficiency, depression
and chronic weight-related diseases.
Playing outdoors helps prevent Eye Problems
According to a new study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, spending time outdoors decreases chances of children developing nearsightedness and slows the progress of myopia in those who already suffer from it. Spending more time indoors means that exposure to the good outdoor light that children need in early childhood is reduced thereby increasing risk of myopia in eyes already straining to use hi-tech gadgets with small screens.
Outdoor play contributes to the cognitive, social and emotional well-being of children and improves their strength, agility, and fitness. The benefits of encouraging outdoor sports in children are as follows:
- Outdoor sports are essential for physical growth and development of children;
- Taking part in outdoor sports help to reduce laziness in children;
- It is observed that children are getting addicted to TV, video games, tablets and computers. Encouraging them to participate in outdoor sports helps reduce such types of addiction;
- Outdoor sports helps children stay active, fit and healthy;
- Encouraging outdoor sports in children will help to prevent disorders like obesity in children;
- Some children may be excellent at outdoor sports, so encouraging them to take-up sports can help unearth and polish hidden talents;
- Outdoor sports also help to improve social skills and develop team spirit;
- Taking part in outdoor sports helps children build confidence;
- Outdoor sports also reduce stress related to studies and make children experience nature and fresh air.
How to Encourage Outdoor Sports?
Help your children get heart-pumping active with the following tips:
Choose a Safe Kid-Friendly Play Area
If you have a backyard, or stay in a building with a big compound, chances are that is where your kids will play. Ensure that area is clear from any dangerous debris or any other things that may harm your child. If you take your children to a park, stay close enough to keep an eye on them, yet far enough to let them play, explore or just enjoy on their own.
Depending on where your child’s interests lay, provide tools to help further their play. For instance, if your child loves digging, buying him a spade, bucket, etc. will make him want to go to the beach more. Buy a hula hoop, magnifying glass, roller skates, skipping rope, toy scooter, beach ball or any other play tools that your kids will want to show to the world and play with.
Outdoor Activities with Family
Take your family bonding time outside. Go bicycling together on the weekends, go to a neighbourhood kids’ entertainment area and go rock climbing or swimming, walk to the ice-cream parlour after dinner instead of driving, or take your children to a vacation spot filled with outdoor activities ranging from water sports to tree climbing and roller skating. Making family bonding a compulsory outdoor activity will make the outdoors part of a great fun routine in your kid’s mind thereby ensuring that they will never regard playing outside a chore.
Enrol Your Child in Outdoor Training Classes
Sign up your children for sports camp, cricket or football classes, badminton or tennis classes, swimming classes, gymnastics, skating classes, Malkhamb classes, etc. Not only will good coaching help develop the sporting skills, but such training and coaching will also boost your child’s interest in sports. It will also help your child become more active and energetic motivating him to head outdoors to use and burn that energy.
Invite Friends to Play
Ask some of your child’s friends over, or hang out with your friends who have children. Play games together, ranging from hide and seek, catch and dodge ball to hop skip and jump. You can even make up a sports tournament for fun involving either entire families or just kids. Competitiveness and the urge to win will be foremost in their minds, encouraging them to go outdoors and practice playing the included games.
Follow Sporting Events
Make the sports channel an important fixture of your family life. Encourage your children to follow and watch sporting events and educate them about sporting legends. Rafael Nadal, Sachin Tendulkar, Lionel Messi, etc. are great role models for your children and set a great example for your kids to follow. Take them for some sporting events like cricket or football games. Rooting for their teams, celebrating when they win, cursing the opposing team, etc., all create such a buzz that your children will want to emulate the players and their skill, and will spend hours practicing or playing with their friends.
Most importantly, explain the importance and benefits of outdoor sports to your child. Spin outdoor activities in a way that your child will look forward to it. Most children dislike studying. Therefore, you can provide outdoor activities as a break to studying. Making electronic entertainment a non-option for study breaks will make outdoor activities the only entertainment recourse for your kids between homework. Explain the health disadvantages of electronic entertainment options to help them make informed decisions about their play activity.