Do you have happy kids? Parents ask me what they can do to improve kids' mental health and happiness. They are surprised when I mention outdoor play. Sometimes I recommend a parenting course for the parents. Other times I suggest spending more time with the kids. At times, I'll suggest encouraging uniqueness or cultivating a spirit of independence in a particular child. For kids with ADHD, I may suggest more structure at home or in the classroom. One question remains: what is the single most powerful and urgent suggestion I offer?
Simple. Grab your kid and go play outdoors!
We have a nation of obese, play-starved kids, who are growing up on video games and living life with their eyes glued to their electronic devices. Most of the children I see in my counseling practice are in need of more physical activity - and physical activity is good for body, mind and soul! Our kids need to play more and to play outdoors. What a terrific way to combat childhood obesity!
Play-starved kids want and need more time spent in the great outdoors, especially city kids. I saw an eight year-old girl yesterday. When asked what she wished she could have or do more than anything else in her life she replied, "I want to go to the park more often!"
I'll go over the benefits later in the article, but allow me to say the benefits of more outdoor play are fantastic! Think about your kids' mental health and consider that the average child spends less than 10 minutes a day outside. Allow me to say that our kids absolutely need more unstructured play time outside! Why? Because it is essential for their healthy development and maturation.
Play makes for happy kids. Think of the benefits: greater self-confidence, better attitude, improved mental and physical health, enhanced cooperation and teamwork, opportunities for spiritual growth, a deeper understanding of and respect for wildlife, a healthier brain, improved problem solving skills, and greater happiness, to name a few!
Outdoor play will bring the family together and reinforce all-important family values to guide and protect your child throughout his/her life.
Plus, outdoor play is a wonderful outlet for excess energy for all children and teenagers, especially those high-energy kids or those with ADHD. Outdoor play and time spent in nature can reduce depression, anxiety, and anger. Outdoor play can give those with ADHD an opportunity to blow off some steam and gain valuable experience stretching their legs, building their muscles, and gaining coordination. Also, remember that more outdoor play will help your kids fight childhood obesity.
Get your kids outside doing, playing, exercising, and having fun doing nothing. You'll see happy kids having fun, enjoying life. You'll give them one of the greatest gifts you could ever give. You'll also help them build a foundation for a great life full of meaningful endeavor, happiness, and success! The key? More outdoor play!
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