Outdoor play for children is one of the forms of play for any child. Outdoor play is equally important in a child’s life like any other routine activity. The reason why I am writing this article is because in my sessions I often interact with two types of parents. First set of parents who knows and believes in outdoor play. On the contrary there is other set of parents who feel it’s completely alright if the child doesn’t play outdoors.
Well, outdoor play is extremely essential for every child irrespective of his age and gender.
What is outdoor play?
Outdoor play is when a child goes out to play in open air and enjoys physical activity at it’s best.
I met parents of 2.5 years old boy who were really concerned because their son who couldn’t communicate at all and had lot of anger bouts. He seemed restless most of the times. They were unable to understand the reason of his restlessness and irritability because of his lack of communication.
You must be thinking that how did I do any sort of counseling for him. Well in such scenarios I take a detailed case history followed by thorough observation sessions and then guide the parents accordingly.
The missing loops
There were many significant things which came up during the session which I wouldn’t like to mention in this article as that will derail our topic. One of it was that the child was extremely high in energy and used his energy levels at unwanted places example throwing things randomly, hitting his elder sibling and many such unwanted behavior as narrated by the parents. On interrogating I understood that the child was not taken outdoors on everyday basis.
In fact the mother said he often tried pointing through his gestures that he wanted to go out especially when anybody from the family went out of the house. He showed too much of anger and urge to step out of the house.
Lack of outdoor play in the child’s life
The first and the foremost I suggested them was taking the child outdoors everyday come what may.
The family shared their challenges which needed intervention but the parents took my feedback positively.
I told them why outdoor play must be done on regular basis. We decided to meet ten days after introducing outdoor play and reducing his screen time.
The parents were surprised to see the change right after two days on taking the child for outdoor activity. They said his screaming came down exactly after two days of outdoor play. Usually I do see changes in a child post outdoor but in his case the result was seen very fast.
This is one such study of a toddler. Similarly there are umpteen amount of benefits when you take your child for outdoor play.
Benefits of outdoor play
Following benefits are seen if a child goes for outdoor play on regular basis
- A child who plays outdoor and gets exposure beyond the four walls of home and school gets lot of fresh air
- The kind of rejuvenation that your child can get on playing outside cannot be compared to spending time in front of screen
- If your child plays outdoors his concentration will be higher in other activities as compared to him sitting at home
- Outdoor play is an excellent way to work on the large muscles of your child
- It is one way in which the senses of the child can be developed drastically
- It’s an excellent stress buster activity
- When your child plays certain outdoor games with rules then he learns how to be part of the team and also learn importance of winning and loosing
- I have seen kids playing traditional games also well while playing outdoor example catch and cook, hide and seek, kho kho etc. All these games have various advantages like your child will learn co-ordination, being alert, memorizing rules, respecting taking turns
- It’s an excellent way to burn out all the extra energy of your child
- Stepping out of the house is the biggest form of stimulation for your child
There are various reasons that why a child must play outdoors
At what age can I stop outdoor play for my child?
The answer is never. Outdoor play must be equal to all the other routine activities that your child has. It is as important as eating, bathing or sleeping. The amount of time the child spends in outdoor activity will vary from one child to other.
Also the kind of activity that the child would like to do will also not be same between two kids.
I am not telling that you must sacrifice your child’s studies in the pretext of Outdoor play. Similarly it should not happen that because of studies he doesn’t step out of the house during his routine days. If a day is too hectic then your child can simply go and take a run in an open area or watch the nature outside.
Some children don’t themselves enjoy too much of vigorous outdoor play. In that case you can encourage your child or accompany your child for a walk, look at the trees around, listen to the chirping birds or any activity that your child like.
Lack of space for outdoor play
In a crowded city like Mumbai many parents have this complain that my child cannot play outside the house either because of lack of space or no garden in the premises.
In such cases you can find out nearby garden, park, temple or a ground depending on your child’s age. Yes this means you will have to accompany your child while taking him Outdoor. Whenever a child plays Outdoor it is not necessary that the game has to be educational or there has to be some meaning out of it. It can be purely fun.
What If your child doesn’t enjoy playing with other children?
- Parents often tell me that I have to push my child to go out and play but he doesn’t like playing. Yes this is also possible
- There could be various reasons like your child cannot find the company of his type
- He might be someone who doesn’t like too much of physical activities
- He is somebody who loves books
- Your child is inclined towards music
- Your child might be addicted to screen hence he doesn’t show interest in Outdoor play
- Your child might end up fighting while playing with others hence he avoids or any other reason
- He can choose any other activity while going Outdoor if he is not comfortable playing with other kids
- If there are any genuine issues related to social behavior then please explain your child about the right kind of behavior or take your child to the counselor.
- If your child is not stepping out of the house because he is glued to screen then please encourage your child to go out and do some activity.
Activities that a child can do when alone
- Your child can carry a storybook or do some drawing also if he enjoys and wants to do in the garden
- He can simply take a stroll, ride his cycle or watch whatever he likes around in the nature
- In very rare cases you can allow your child to listen to music but as far as possible you must avoid. If he listens to music see to it that he doesn’t watch any sort of screen example YouTube or any other
- He can enjoy swings, slides or any any other activity in a garden
- A child can simply walk on the grass
- Your child can enjoy with sand
- He can observe colorful flowers, look at the sky or get wet in the rain
How can Outdoor play help overcome certain concerns?
Outdoor play is beneficial to each and every child however if you have a child with following issues then with Outdoor play you will see lot of improvement
- Child who shows dip in concentration levels all of sudden
- Any child with very high energy levels
- A child who has speech delay
- If your child is addicted to TV, gadgets etc
- If your child is overweight
- A child who is lazy
- Any child whose appetite has reduced
- Hyperactive Child
- If any child is exposed to lot of conflicts in family
- A child with anger bouts
- If your child is very stubborn etc
I am not saying that all the above will be solved with outdoor play but with correct type of behavior modification, routine and inclusion of outdoor play you will certainly see the difference in your child’s attitude.
So readers, if you have any other way in which your child enjoys outdoor play and the benefits that you have seen please mention in comment section or email us.
You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” – Plato