According to the Child Mind Institute, the average American child spends 4-7 minutes a day on unstructured outdoor play. Outdoor play is a critical part of early childhood, as it helps children develop life skills in a way that is hard to replicate elsewhere. Messages from media have given children a phobia of the outdoors and robs them of important experiences that shape who they are and who they will become.
Here are 5 easy ways to bring play back into your child’s life:
- Allow your child to make their own decisions as much as possible.
- When you see them struggling don’t help them unless they ask for your help.
- Let them play without parental guidance.
- Let them explore “risky play.” (climbing a pine tree, riding a bike, wrestling, hide and seek)
- Organize play dates with other parents.
Are there ways to help your child self-select and self-direct more of what they’re doing? Or decrease the focus on outside rewards? Or foster a grander sense of imagination? Remember this: The more you tell your child exactly what and how to do something, the less play is taking place. Bring play back into your child’s life! The rewards are unmatched, and the benefits will last a lifetime.