Parenting Matters: Teaching your child to enjoy outside

  • Wednesday, March 7, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

When I was a child, life was different. I know this is true for you too. We certainly didn’t have phones that we carried to school or games we played on computers like they have today.

There are some good things that exist today that I wish I had when I was younger, but there are also some disadvantages today I am glad I didn’t have. One of the things we had more of back then was time. We had plenty of time to do many things that today’s children miss out on.

When we had plenty of time, we played inside and outside. After a while, playing inside was boring and we all wanted to go out. It didn’t matter if it was raining or even snowing. In fact, those things made it even more exciting.

When I was a child, I didn’t live in the beautiful country atmosphere that we live in. It was the city. We played in the little grass that was surrounded by streets and houses and still we loved it. But to be where there are trees, mountains, water, animals, birds and lots of land is far more exciting. Those are things we have here for our children.

It isn’t enough to have a beautiful area for children to play and for things for them to watch and enjoy. We have to get them outside and introduce them to all the wonders that are in our area.

Out into nature

One of the roles parents need to assume is to introduce your child to the outside world. It begins with taking walks and looking at what is all around.

Maybe you take a drive to someplace where you can walk around, especially if you live in an areas where you have neighbors nearby.

You have to be the one who show your child what is around. You need to remember that he isn’t used to being outside and he will miss a lot if you don’t point it out. If you are excited about showing him around outside, he might see things he would not see by himself.

Look at the rocks that are in your path. Maybe you need to talk about where they came from or how they got to where they are.

Pay attention to the mountains and check out the snow level. The next time you are out with him, talk about what has changed with the snow. Talk about where the snow will be in another couple of weeks as spring arrives.

Check out the birds. We have an amazing number of eagles to look at if you start paying attention. The herons too are beautiful to watch. No matter what his age, help him to learn the names of the different birds you see together.

If there is a creek or a river or a lake you are close to, take him there. Talk about what is in the lake. See if it is a place he might be able to go swimming or fishing next summer. Find out what kind of fish they have in this lake.

Take him for walks in all kinds of weather. Bundling up and going for a walk outside as the hail or the snow comes down is very exciting and certainly different. Obviously, if there is enough snow making snowballs and enjoying the play that happens with them is a plus.

Talk to other people you meet as you go for your walk. Let him learn to be friendly with people he passes.

But mostly, have an enjoyable time. Let him learn about nature, beauty and friendship all in one day. Then repeat as frequently as possible. This is an important lesson he needs to learn. Someday, he will appreciate it. In the meantime, he will enjoy it.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at

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