Na­ture nur­tures

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?

Friday - - Advertorial -

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

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