Five Ways to Help Your Kids Enjoy the Outdoors

Five Ways to Help Your Kids Enjoy the Outdoors

We’re all well aware of the growing trends regarding childhood activity. Mainly, if it doesn’t involve a screen – preferably touchscreen – then kids typically aren’t interested. In many ways, this is an irreversible course, an unfortunate by-product of these highly technological times. But families can and should still make efforts to get outside once in awhile.

For those claiming they can’t get their kids to go into the backyard let alone a family outing, our answer is this: you aren’t trying hard enough. No, it doesn’t have to be all about lectures on conservation or commanding your child to abandon their electronic life and look up at the world around them. Motivating your kids to go on a family camping, hiking or backpacking trip can instead be an opportunity to get to know them better and allow them to appreciate the beauty of nature on their own.

Consider these five tips to help your kids enjoy the great outdoors a little more:

Documenting Duties: The youth of today love to take pictures and record videos of themselves and the world around them, as any social media perusing would reveal. Assign kids the task of taking photos and recording video when on an outdoor family outing. They’ll appreciate the responsibility and it ensures they’ll be taking it all in instead of thinking about their Flappy Bird high score. Not to mention your kids are probably more experienced at framing for just the right shot.

geocachingChoose an Interesting Area: Adults can better appreciate the nuances of a landscape and region which, to someone in adolescence, might look just like every forest they’ve ever seen before. It’s important then for parents to consider more than trail rating and proximity to the interstate when planning an extended outdoor adventure. Many outdoor family activities exist in historically-rich regions, providing opportunities for children to learn more than just the look of the terrain but also about cultures and heritage. Eye-catching landmarks usually highlight many famous trails and park grounds, so focus research on finding the most interesting destinations that meet your budget and time limits.

Incorporate Interests: It’s common for kids to feel bored by default if activities don’t include something they’re ordinarily interested in. Assigning photo and video duties as we previously mentioned is one way to go about doing this, but it’s important for parents to incorporate interests into the actual activities themselves. For example if your girl or boy likes to take their bicycle around the neighborhood, then plan a mountain biking adventure.

Address Concerns: Kids unfamiliar with life outside the city or suburbs can often find nature to be an intimidating place. In fact our fear of unfamiliar landscapes full of strange critters is in many ways hardwired into the brain. With this in mind, don’t dismiss fears or concerns your kids may have about the outdoors as being juvenile paranoia. Take the time to talk to them about staying safe in nature. If they consistently cite a fear of spiders or Sasquatch, visit Wikipedia and other sources with them so they know your assurances aren’t made up.

Choose the Right Gear: This is fundamental and something most families do not focus enough on when planning their outdoor activities. Your child may begin dreading the hike two miles in because of how much pain they’re feeling in their feet, griping the rest of the way. Little does your boy know that the pain isn’t from the walking itself but from poorly chosen footwear. A tent left open due to a malfunctioning zipper can keep everyone up all night in bitter chills. These little episodes add up to a bad experience, especially for children, who may from then on correlate outdoors with unhappiness when it was improper gear choices that made for the bad time.

Lastly, one extra bit of advice: it’s probably best to avoid complete elimination of electronic devices during your outdoor family outing. It may seem like the ideal way to keep your children’s minds on the beautiful wonders around them, but depriving them entirely of what is in many ways their loyal companion, whether smartphone or tablet, is a good way to start things off badly. Instead, allow for electronics breaks – hour-long stops where everyone can turn on their devices. Chances are there won’t be any connectivity anyway, but you don’t have to tell them that.

Getting children out of their digital, indoor-oriented comfort zones is easier said than done. But don’t give up just because your son or daughter doesn’t show any interest in the outdoors at all. Be a little bossy and organize a family trip somewhere earthy and different. At the same time, don’t forget to help your kids see the wild world for what it is through their eyes, not yours. Appreciate what makes them who they are, and allow that to be the portal through which the wonders of nature are revealed.

Guest post by R.W.

Comments

  1. I wish we could spend more time outside as a family. It seems like the weather is either too cold or too hot here in Las Vegas to fully enjoy the outdoors.

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