Where Are The Kids? The Extinction Of Outdoor Play

“Will you stop being overprotective?” This is what my mom always told me about the way I raised my kids. She says my kids should spend more time in the playground, running and screaming like we used to when we were kids.

I used to think that the safest place to keep my kids was inside the house. This will keep them from getting hurt, or getting dirty, or worse, being a victim of bullying or kidnapping. Unfortunately, this paranoia turned out to be more harmful than helpful. Kids are kids and they will always find a way to play. And since they weren’t allowed to play outdoors, they sought an alternative to playground equipment – the computer. I then observed that the more time they spent in the computer, the less chances they had to talk and to move their muscles.

Luckily it wasn’t too late for me to realize my mistake – how I’ve kept them from being active and physically fit by keeping them inside the house. What’s worse, with all the obscene and violent scenes in the internet, there is always that danger of exposing them to a world that they are not mature enough to understand. But now that they’ve been too engrossed with all the online games and social network, is it too late for me to bring back outdoor play into their lives?

Not quite, as Cath Prisk, Director of Play England says, “Children play in the same way they have always done. It’s an innate biological thing, it’s a part of who children are.” I figured that even in this technologically-advanced world, children will enjoy the good, old games that we used to play – that is if modern parents will raise them like the good, old parents used to. Good thing, I had my mom to share these useful tips …

1. Change the House Rules

The first thing to do was to change our rule:  from “Always Keep Yourselves Clean” to “It’s Okay To Get Dirty. Just Keep The Dirt Outside”. Allowing my kids to explore the leaves and crawling insects surely supported their inquisitive minds.

2. Have a Safe Playground

Having a safe playground right in my kitchen window view allowed me to keep an eye on them and do my chores at the same time. With all the challenges in the playground, it’s amazing to see how they keep trying ‘till they get things right.

3. Invite the Kids

Things are more fun when shared, so I invited the neighborhood kids. Slowly, my kids learned how deal with different types of kids – the silent, the whining, and the arrogant.

4. Initiate Fun Activities

In no time, the playground turned into a kids’ activity center where there was something new to do everyday – drawing, painting, storytelling, water gun shooting, barbecuing. Some of these activities were initiated by me, while others just came spontaneously.

Surely, outdoor play brings lifelong benefits for kids. Sharing, empathy, perseverance, leadership, creativity, self-confidence … the lessons are countless!

Jona Jone has been a mortgage originator in Philadelphia, PA. She is also a Business and Property Specialist. She has been writing articles about real estate investment, business, parenting and living.