Chipper is celebrating Take It Outside Week, are you? Making a trip to your local playground or park, taking a walk around your neighborhood, or just exploring your backyard are simple ways you can make sure you and the kids get their daily dose of nature! Unstructured, unscheduled play is very important too though, as explained by the video below.
Dr. Ken Ginsburg, pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings, and Dr. Marilyn Benoit, Chief Clinical Officer at Devereux Behavioral Health and former president of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, address critical issues facing children and families today — rising levels of stress and anxiety, obesity-related health problems, dramatically reduced time for free play and play outdoors, hectic and overscheduled family life — and offer a solution to address these problems: a prescription of play!
Preventing your child’s free play because of fears of physical harm, stranger danger, or getting dirty is harming more than it’s helping. Let them skin their knees and get a little muddy! It’s GOOD for them! This may seem obvious to some but our society doesn’t value our children’s connection to nature as much as it should. These days your child is more likely to be treated for ADHD or some other emotional disorder than to break a bone falling out of a tree (which actually happens less than you think!). Pediatricians nowadays see fewer kids with broken bones from climbing trees and more children with longer-lasting repetitive-stress injuries, which are related to playing video games and typing at keyboards (Read more).
There are a lot of things that could happen, and if we all lived in fear of them, we would never get out or move! You would see kids in a bubble trying to have fun but still not be touched by anything. Every sport is dangerous, yet kids play them all the time. There are risks no matter what so don’t let those risks and fears prevent your child from fully experiencing our amazing natural world!
Nature is a tool to get children to experience not just the wider world, but themselves. Climbing a tree is about learning how to take responsibility for yourself, and how – crucially – to measure risk for yourself. Falling out of a tree is a very good lesson in risk and reward. Let your little one have fun and be a kid. A very overprotective parent is harming their child and not properly preparing them for the real world, where there are dangerous things and place he can get hurt. He has to learn how to be safe on his own, and to know his own boundaries and limits!
Obesity is perhaps the most visible symptom of the lack of such play, but literally dozens of studies from around the world show regular time outdoors produces significant improvements in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning ability, creativity and mental, psychological and emotional well being. Just five minutes of outdoor play can produce rapid improvements in mental well being and self-esteem, with the greatest benefits experienced by the young, according to a study this year at the University of Essex.
Free and unstructured play in the outdoors boosts problem-solving skills, focus and self-discipline. Socially, it improves cooperation, flexibility, and self-awareness. Emotional benefits include reduced aggression and increased happiness. “Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors,” concluded one authoritative study published by the American Medical Association in 2005.
Getting your daily dose of nature has been made easy with Chipper! His prescription of outdoor play and nature-inspired fun will help children of all ages, cultures and abilities! The latest edition in our book series is called Helping Hands. Join Chipper and friends on a playful journey that will teach kids the importance of using our hands in helpful ways. By positively reinforcing the good that comes when we all work together children will be ready to lend their hands and hearts around the home, school, and community. Read a mom’s review!