Raising Your Kids to Love the Outdoors
In today's world, it can seem like the outdoors is just a distraction. With over-scheduled children who spend more time in front of screens than on the playground, figuring out a way to create a love of nature can be tough. Fortunately, there are steps that you as a parent can take to help your child love going outside. Below are four tips that help turn going outdoors into something truly special for children of all ages. Whether you have an infant or an older child, these tips will change they way you both look at outdoor adventures.
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While there's something to be said for the kicking your kids outside when the weather's nice, one of the key ways to get your kids to love the outdoors is to set an example for them. If you are willing to get outside, your children will learn to do the same. Children look to their parents as role models, especially when they're very young. If you can show that you love being outside, there's a good chance that your child will want to follow your example.
Exposure is Everything
One of the big mistakes that parents make is keeping their children inside a little too much. It's understandable, of course - it can be a scary world and many parents want to do all they can to protect their children. If you want to raise your child to love being outside, though, you'll need to give them chances to play outdoors. This works hand in hand with the tip above - go out with them if you're nervous, but make sure that they have some time to explore. Exposure is a key part of teaching your child to love going outside.
Don't Push Too Hard
Try not to push your children into outdoor outings. Instead, try to help them work up to their adventures at a pace that makes sense for both their level of development and personality. Think about your child the same way you would think about yourself - would you love going outside if your first exposure was a twenty mile hike? Of course not - you would have to work up to that. Give your child a chance to adapt and learn before you push him or her. This should be a fun experience, not something that feels like work.
Another great way to get your kids to love the outdoors is to involve them in outdoor clubs. Remember, you're creating a love for the outdoors that is largely based on play. If your children can interact with other kids who love to be outside, they'll be more likely to understand everything the great outdoors can bring to them. While there's certainly no guarantee that a perfect club exists near you, take some time to look at your local Parks Department's website or consider joining up with your local Scout branch. There are more groups that spend time outside than you might think.
Trust Your Child
Finally, it's a fantastic idea to trust your child when it comes to spending time outside. Let him or her wander and have fun. This doesn't mean abdicating responsibility or going against your own instincts, but it does mean trusting your child to learn how to make his or her own decisions. If your child feels like the outdoors is a place where he or she can call some of the shots, he or she will be more likely to start embracing every chance he or she gets to go outside.
There's never a guarantee that your child will love going outside. If you set things up correctly, though, your child will be able to find a sense of joy in nature. Give him or her the chance to explore at his or her own pace, allow him or her the chance to experience more, and make sure that everything you do is social. The more positive experiences your child has outside, the more he or she will associate being outside with the best times of his or her life. Give your child a chance to love the outdoors when he or she is you and the child will carry that feeling into adulthood.