Our way of life has changed a lot in the last century: industrialization and technological revolution have moved us away from nature and into our homes where we spend most of our time in virtual worlds. The lives of children and the ways they spend their childhood have changed a lot too. Children spend a lot of time playing with tech gadgets instead of with each other, they don’t have extended families to take care of them and communities to socialize in, and they spend most of their time indoors.
All of these changes have lead to the present situation where there are more children with allergies, attention deficit disorders, hyperactivity disorders and obesity than ever before. Most of these negative consequences of modern day life can be reversed or at least decreased if we make an effort to get our kids outdoors more where they can be active and develop properly. Here is why it is beneficial:
1. It builds immunity
Spending time in nature and in contact with so-called ‘dirt’ actually builds the immune system, and kids become more resistant to all kinds of germs if they come into contact with them early on. It is the body’s natural response to build antibodies when exposed to germs. On the other hand, overprotected children who do not get enough contact with nature are not resistant to infections and they get sick much more easily.
2. It regulates the body’s electrons
Most children spontaneously like walking barefoot, and science is catching up to explain why it is beneficial. It is now known as grounding or earthing – or just being barefoot with your feet placed on plain soil or grass. Both Earth and our bodies produce ions. Positive ions produced by the body are associated with disease, degeneration and stress, while the negative ions are connected with good health and vitality. When we place our bare feet on the ground, our bodies discharge positive ions and are infused with negative ions that the Earth produces and emits in unlimited amounts. Grounding makes us calmer, more centered, and healthier. That is why schools that have outdoors playgrounds in natural surroundings report a decrease in bad behavior, stress and anxiety, ADHD, and bullying.
3. It builds their bodies
Children are usually energy bombs and they need a lot more physical activity than adults. They need to run and jump and chase each other around. All of this is beneficial for their proper physical development – they grow good lung capacity, their hearts develop, their brains get oxygenated, the muscles get stronger and develop flexibility, and they stay fit. They also get the chance to sweat out all those toxins from candy and chips.
4. It teaches them freedom
Being free in life is one of the most important traits to develop. Living a fearful life limits your options, your goal setting, and ultimately the quality of your life. If kids are overprotected, and if we keep telling them that this and that is too dangerous and that they should always be clean and avoid any risk, we instill fear into them. Of course, you are going to ban seriously dangerous behaviors, but letting kids be free to explore nature and to enjoy play even if there is a bit of risk involved will only teach them new skills. For example, getting a trampoline for your back yard is not entirely safe, but it is fun and the kids will improve their motor skills. It is the same with skateboards, rollerblades, and swimming.
Let your kids have the childhood all kids deserve – out in the nature where they can learn about real life while getting fresh air and much needed exercise. You might as well join them – no one is too old for some outdoors play!
[About author: Tracey Clayton is a full-time mom of three girls. She loves spending quality time with her daughters and organizing awesome parties in Sydney trampoline park. She’s also passionate about traveling, fashion and healthy living. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”]