Wednesday 30 August 2017

5 Reasons To Take Your Kids To The Park

When Ebony was younger, the park was one of our favourite places to hang out. We would take a wander into the village, swing by the charity shops and then head to the park for a couple of hours before walking back home. Now that she’s in school, there isn’t as much time for trips to the park, but we try to go after school when the weather is nice.

Now that Ember is officially a toddler (sob), she loves the park. It’s almost not worth taking her because she cries so much when it’s time to leave. Her days of being stuck in a swing watching the bigger kids have fun are behind her, now she can stomp around clambering on the equipment by herself. I sometimes take her for a little play straight after we drop Ebony off at school. The park is usually quiet then so she has the playground all to herself. But she’s happiest when her sister is at the park with her so she can follow her around from slide to swing, demanding to play with her.

Here are five reasons why you should take your kids to the park:

1. It provides plenty of opportunities for risk taking
We live in a risk averse society, we’re all scared of everything all the time and this is having an impact on our kids. Older generations love to go on about how much freedom they had as kids, climbing trees and going on day-long bike rides all by themselves. And it’s true, kids these days do have a lot less freedom. Places are more built up, roads are busier, and the media is full of horror stories of child-snatchers. Helicopter parenting means kids are taking fewer risks than ever before, many parents seem terrified of letting their kids suffer a grazed knee or bumped head.

Risk-taking is important, especially during the early years. Kids who play organised sports are less likely to engage in risky behaviours off the field. Why? Because they’re taking risks during games and enjoying a natural high that way. Early years risk taking is just as important. Children need to climb trees, fall over, tackle the big slide, and swing so high they feel like they’re flying. By giving your children the freedom to explore the park, you’re allowing your child to take risks in a safe environment.

2. Kids need to exercise
Childhood health can be a risk factor for adult obesity. Kids who have unhealthy diets and spend time cooped up indoors staring at screens rather than running around in the fresh air are more likely to be obese in later life. One in three children are now overweight, which is a pretty scary statistic if you think about what the future impact of that will be. If you want your kids to grow up into people who value exercise and health, you need to instill that belief now. That doesn’t mean you have to fork out for costly organised sports, a simple trip to the park could be all you need to get the blood flowing and show your kid that exercise is fun. Climbing the huge climbing equipment, jumping off the swings and running towards the next piece of equipment are all simple exercises your kids will enjoy during a trip to the park. For a bit of extra exercise, take a ball and play a game of football while you’re there.

3. It’s good for their development
You might be surprised at just how valuable a trip to the park can be for your child’s development. For younger kids, playing at the park allows them to build on their motor skills. Kids learn through play and while your kid is busy trying to go down the big slide, she’s learning how to climb and how to balance. Coordination is a really important skill and you can’t beat a trip to the park for mastering that important skill. As your kids grow, so too do the number of development opportunities at the playground. Balancing upside, swinging on the monkey bars, balancing on the trim trail - there are loads of different skills involved in each of these activities.

4. They’ll learn social skills
Going to the park encourages your child to mix with other children. They will make new friends, speak to new people and navigate complicated social situations (read: deal with the awkward kid who won’t budge from the top of the slide). The best way to teach your child social skills is to create plenty of opportunities for them to socialise with different children. The park is an easy place to do this because it is usually filled with children of various ages.

5. Fresh air is good for all of us
Today’s kids spend less time outdoors than previous generations. We’re at risk of raising a generation of vitamin D deficient kids who only want to sit indoors and stare at computer screens. Time spent in green spaces improves mental health, lifts your mood and promotes good health. For more tips on how to improve your mental health, take a look at BetterHelp. Fresh air is also famous for helping kids to sleep at night. When Ebony was younger and bedtime was a battle, I made sure we always spent a couple of hours outside. The fresh air seemed to make all the difference because she would come home exhausted and ready for sleep. That in itself is enough of a reason to try a trip to the park today.

This is a collaborative post.

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