Are your kids close to ‘Mother’ Nature?

With the advancing technology, working parents and nuclear families and of course COVID-19, kids are spending more time inside the house rather than playing out on the grounds and amidst nature. On an average, kids are exposed to screen time from as early as 18 month. Kids aged 3 year plus spend about 2 – 3 hours a day on screen. 

Not only screen time, but even spending time in the malls or other indoor environments is far more convenient than spending time outdoors. These places are highly controlled by Marketing and are acting on your and your kids minds. No doubt this is the easy way out and they also take care of the other parental concerns like climate, pollution, safety and most importantly, the city life doesn’t allow us to be close to nature.  

But its not only fun to be out there playing in nature, its is rather important. Kids who don’t spend enough time interacting with nature may suffer from physical disorders like Myopia and obesity, weak motor skills. Mental health issues like, depression and stress, limited personality development, reduces the happiness quotient and they may also suffer with Nature Deficit Disorder – which arises when kids spend more time indoors and less time outdoors. 

Here are a few reasons that will encourage parents to take kids outdoors: 

  • Kids can actually learn essential life skills from nature that will help them to survive in this competitive world. 
  • Being close to nature makes us more accepting and flexible as a person. 
  • It teaches us to be happy and comfortable no matter which situation we are in and also teaches us to adapt to situations that are not in our control. 
  • Subtly imbibes so many values in kids 
  • It is a source of unmatched holistic development for children. 
  • Stimulates imagination and interpretation of the world around them.

Raise confident kids: 

Natures allows our kids to choose how  to interact with it. It gives the power to the kids and there are no rules unlike the board games. It is open to the child’s capacity and  inclination. 

Eg: PLaying around a tree can be just sitting or sleeping under it, climbing up the tree, reading on the branches, observing the leaves, flowers, fruits , observing the birds and insects  etc. 

In fact the reason we all look forward to holidays to the countryside is because it is rich in nature so we feel rejuvenated and refreshed ourselves. Imagine our kids can experience it on a daily basis. 

Raise responsible kids: 

If you ‘re wondering, how can kids learn responsibility? It happens at a subtle level. Our kids have so many toys these day , but do they value it enough? Breaking a toy or loosing one is not a big deal for them since they know they can get a new one. Or say a toy truck is lying in some corner of the house for 15 days it will be unchanged, but when you get your kid to plant a sapling, and if they forget to water it even for 3 days, they may not be able to see it again. This experience imbibes sensitivity, responsibility and also gets them thinking about their actions and the consequences. 

Raise patient kids: 

Taking the same example of planting a sapling, when they plant one, it takes a few days for it to see the seed sprout and longer to be able to see the leaves and even longer for it to bear flowers and fruits, and whatsoever, we cannot accelerate this process, so they learn to wait and be patient without being irritable. Or even examples from their daily experiences- like if their shoes get wet in the rain, they won’t dry up immediately or or when they make an ice popsicle, it doesn’t happen in a minute, but you have to wait for a few hours for it to set.   Of course, it not a easy to make them understand, but sooner or later they do. 

A good side effect of this is, it teaches them not to expect instant gratification for every small thing they do. We use too much of it well done, thank you. You are so kind.

Raise Resilient kids:

Although this sound far-fetched and may be even idealistic, it’s an example that connects with the kids example of the Incy Wincy Spider. No matter how many times it falls while weaving the cobweb, it completes it and also waits for its prey to arrive. This is also a great analogy for accepting failure and not getting disheartened by it.   

Makes them Accepting & Flexible:       

Imagine you have taken kids out for a trek, you are obviously out of your comfort zone. Kids are out there sitting on the ground, dealing with the dirt, sleeping in the sleeping bag instead of their comfortable bed, eating finger food, local food rather than something that is specially cooked for them, staying in dirty clothes etc. All these things will give them the experience to stay calm, accept the surroundings and situations as they are. Being flexible instead of being rigid is a quality. They say the more you bend , you can bounce back, but if you are stiff you may break! 

Mangesh, father to two kids says,: we take our kids 16 and 7 years old for treks , beach cleaning, swimming to  try and give kids new experience, get out of their comfort zone. The objective of doing this is keep them away from gadgets, help them think independently,  to improve their risk taking ability and to get them closer to nature, to appreciate nature.All these experiences will hope will make them into a better person and a better understanding of life from what they know” 

Stimulates imagination and interpretation:   

Since nature allows us to interact with it as per our kids capability and inclination, that experience is unique to the kids and its a personal experience and therefore the interpretation of that experience is also unique. Eg: 3 – 4 kids were playing out in the rain and there was a thunderstorm, one says – The clouds are fighting, the second kid says they are crying, third kid  says Dinosaurs are roaring and the fourth one says  – Light came first and then the sound. SO many different dimensions to one single event.   

Teaches Co-existence:

Usually kids are scared of insects and other non  domestic creatures like lizards, honey bees, ants etc. They learn it from us because our instant reaction toward them is to shoo them away. And kids start to develop a feeling of disgust and fear for them. But what they need to realise is, these creatures are very much a part of the ecosystem and each of them has a role to play. So they need to know that accepting and respecting their space is the wisest thing to do.  

It reduces stress and fatigue. 

According to the Attention Restoration Theory, urban environments require what’s called directed attention, which forces us to ignore distractions and exhausts our brains. In natural environments, we practice an effortless type of attention known as soft fascination that creates feelings of pleasure, not fatigue.

These are life lessons and are difficult to teach and impart, but nature makes it really easy for us to explain as they are relatable and come to our rescue. We obviously do not have to lecture when they are having fun, but a reference form these interactions with nature make a great examples and they ought to believe it since they have witnessed it themselves.

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Team PIU
Himani and Kalyani are Co Founders of Partners in Upbringing. Both of them are mothers and are extremely passionate about parenting.

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