Safety concerns and the increase of passive indoor activities for children such as television, computers, and video games have led to many kids spending most of their waking hours indoors. Although indoor play has its place, playing outside helps children get plenty of fresh air and exercise and provides a great opportunity for kids to use their imaginations.
According to AOL Health, 15 percent of children in the U.S. are obese and 30 percent are overweight. Although diet plays a big part in childhood obesity, lack of exercise that is in part due to children spending excessive amounts of time indoors is at least partly to blame.
Here are some ways to encourage children to play outdoors:
Invest in Good Playground Equipment
Kids may complain that there is nothing to do outside. While it’s true that imaginative children can always find something interesting to do, it’s worthwhile to invest in good playground equipment for the backyard to encourage children to play outside.
Playground equipment prices vary and can be quite expensive, but there are inexpensive options available also. If both space and finances are limited, shop around, both online and in stores for quite awhile before purchasing playground equipment. Knowing the many options that are out there is the first step in determining which playground equipment to purchase.
Be sure to purchase age appropriate playground equipment for the home. For example, it is best to start off with something like Little Tykes playground equipment for use with preschoolers because it is small, sturdy, and safe. As kids grow, larger playground sets can be purchased to provide greater challenge.
In addition to playground equipment keep other items such as tricycles, wading pools (only when supervision is possible) sandbox and toys, and sidewalk chalk available so that there is always something fun for the kids to do outdoors.
Play Outside With the Kids
It’s easy for parents to push their children outside when they don’t want to be bothered by them. However, while it’s fine for children to play outdoors alone, they may enjoy it more if parents are willing to spend time playing outside with them.
Outdoor play with children can include building sandcastles, playing games of catch and hide and go seek, drawing on the patio or sidewalk with sidewalk chalk and so on. Even sitting outside and reading or doing yard work while the child plays and occasionally interacting with the child verbally may be enough to encourage the child to play outdoors.
Help Kids Develop an Interest in Sports
Not all kids are athletic, but with the variety of sports available, and a little work, it’s possible to find sport options even for kids who are not particularly athletic. For instance, rather than forcing a child who is not athletic to join a baseball team, simply play a game of catch in the backyard or park. For a child who doesn’t have interest or the coordination to join a soccer team, get out into the backyard and see who can kick a soccer ball across the yard first.
Not only will these types of activities get kids who are not athletic to play sports in a relaxed way, they will also help develop skills in another way – for instance, if a child finds himself in situations where he needs to play sports with other kids, he will be better equipped to do so.
With childhood obesity increasing, it’s important for parents to encourage their children to play outdoors. Investing in good playground equipment, playing outside with children, and helping kids develop an interest in sports are all ways to get kids to want to play outdoors.