Ah, the Great Outdoors. Sometimes the perfect place for a relaxing day out with the kids, sometimes a recipe for an afternoon of complaining — and it can be impossible to tell which it will be beforehand. Introducing your kids to nature can be a great way to bond and foster the formation of healthy habits at a young age, but it can be a hard sell, depending on the child. However, with persistence and a little creativity, you and your family can build a fun, healthy tradition of outdoor enjoyment to last a lifetime. Here are a few tips on how to teach your little ones to love nature.
Introduce It Early And Often
The formation of habits is all about repetition. If you want your children to appreciate the outdoors as they grow, it’s important to expose them to it regularly. This could be as simple as going to the park or a local pond a few times a week, or as ambitious as a weekly hike once they’re comfortable walking longer distances. Remember, the more routine you make getting out in nature feel for your child, the more natural it will feel for them to do so.
Adjust To Their Pace
One of the more overlooked reasons why children can get cranky after long days out or during lots of walking is that children often have to quicken their pace to keep up with the much longer strides of their parents. When you get on a child’s level when talking to them or match your walking pace to theirs, they feel more included in whatever it is you are doing. If you and your fellow parent enjoy hiking and want your kids to enjoy it too, this step is particularly crucial. No one likes walking when they feel hurried, no matter their age.
Keep The Journey Engaging
While the wonderful sights and relaxing quiet of nature can be soothing to adults, it can also be equally un-stimulating to young minds. You’ll want to find creative ways to keep your kid engaged on your journey outdoors. For hikes, this can be as simple as playing “I Spy” while you walk or singing little marching tunes to the pace of your walk. Jolly Ranchers and other mouth candies give children something to suck on,keeping their mouths wet during hikes in dry areas. Bonus tip: you can use a similar strategy for road trips to keep kids engaged. A small Lego toy to assemble placed in the back seat or drawing books can buy you an hour or two of much-needed quiet time.
Focus On The Positives
Inevitably, there will be some times outdoors with your kids when the usual strategies just don’t do enough. Maybe the weather is unsatisfactory, maybe your hike is a little longer or more strenuous than your child would like, whatever – not every day out is going to be perfect. A great way to teach this lesson and plant the seeds of resilience in your kids is to focus on the positives of whatever you’re doing or wherever you are. Frankly, this exercise is good for people of all ages, but it will help your kids most since they are still forming a lot of their habits related to attitude and mentality. It will make you and your kids’ time out in nature more enjoyable, and it will make life more enjoyable in the long run, too. “Looking on the bright side” is a wonderful thing to do, both out in nature and in life.
At Child’s World Academy in Monroe, we teach children to appreciate all that our world has to offer. It’s part of what’s made us the #1 Top Rated Local® child care provider. Call us today to set a better path for your child’s future.