Are your children spending too much time in the house? You’re not alone with this problem. In 2005, Richard Louv wrote Last Child in the Woods to offer his analysis of what was going on in adolescent development. In the book, he coined the term “nature deficit disorder,” which refers to the problems associated with spending too much time indoors. He argues that children who stay inside are more likely to be less socially engaged, depressed, anxious, poorer learners and overweight.
Is he right about that? Well if you look at our society, there are a number of people who would say that our children do spend too much time indoors. With social networking, video games and television, there really are too many distractions from allowing kids to just be kids. So what’s a parent to do about this? Here are a few good ideas to encourage your children to get out of the house more often:
Enroll them on a sports team: Many things are learned through sports. Teamwork, listening, and honor are just a few that come to mind. In addition to this, it is an opportunity to meet new kids their own age and be part of something bigger than them. Plus, as an added bonus, they’ll get much needed exercise. Children who remain indoors are more likely to be sedentary, leaving them susceptible to a host of conditions, including high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
Join in on the fun: Instead of spending the weekends in front of the television as a family, why not make it a point to do more things outside as a family? This could mean something as simple as a hike around a local community park, some tennis, a trip to the lake or shore, or maybe an overnight camping trip. If you create a routine filled with outdoor time, you’ll be surprised how quickly it will catch on.
Have a “Go off the Grid Contest”: If you want your children to get excited about something, you need to give them some incentives to do so. One of the easiest things to do is appeal to their competitive spirit in some way. A “Go off the Grid Contest” is one where participants compete to see who can go the longest without going on their phones, laptop and television. Sweeten the deal by offering a prize for the winner, such as a meal at their favorite restaurant.
Get them Outdoorsy Gifts: And no, FIFA or MLB on PS4 don’t count. Everyone loves to receive gifts. Why not use Christmas and birthdays as an occasion to encourage outdoorsy activities? Instead of sports video games, get them a new ball or a net for some play in the backyard. Do they like camping or would you like them to at least try it more often? A tent or a brand new collapsible camping stool for sitting by the fire might be a good idea.
In general, you just want to get your children outside more. Staying indoors come with a host of problems now and down the road. And who knows? Maybe your efforts to get them outside will cause you to go outside some more too.
Chis is a parent of two and a marathon runner. He believes fitness is the key to leading a happy life.