Being outdoors has a huge impact on our kids’ overall growth. Is that a fallacy of an adult mind that is still living in a pre-digital era, or does it have the support of science?
As more and more kids across the world begin to prefer electronic devices over outdoor play as a medium of entertainment, the trend has both parents and child development experts worried.
According to several recent scientific studies, outdoor play is very important for child development. By bringing the child outside you are offering new opportunities for play and interaction. This helps the child to develop better communication skills, builds their social development and shows them they can have fun in a healthy and active way.
It is OK for your child to go out there, play and get dirty as this encourages the child to develop to their full potential, making way for a healthy lifestyle to take into adulthood. Clinical psychologist Dr Amy Bailey and physiotherapist Nishad Sayyed from Kids First Medical Center, Dubai, talk about the advantages of outdoor play for both parents as well as kids:
Children learn through example so go out and play with your child. By playing with your child outside, you are also being more active and thus are healthier yourself.
Evidence shows that physical activity releases chemicals in our brain that make us happier. We enjoy the time with our child and this improves the relationship we have with them.
It is the quality of time spent together that is more important than the quantity. If you have a busy schedule, when you are able to be with your child switch off the electronics and play outside in an activity that will improve the connection between the two of you.
For younger children, the quality of their relationship with their parents is important for shaping how they feel about themselves and others. The parental relationship acts as a blueprint for their expectations of relationships in the future and helps build a positive self-image.
Older children still value praise from their parents even if they are more interested in playing with their friends. Even if you are not able to participate, make sure to be interested by watching them play.
If you are enthusiastic towards an outdoor activity, that enthusiasm will encourage your children and soon they will create their own version of the activity.
Nishad Sayyed, physiotherapist
Dr Amy Bailey, clinical psychologist