The value of outdoor adventures, little or large, cannot be underestimated. Sure, experiencing new and fun adventures with your child is rewarding and memorable, but the value of outdoor adventures goes way beyond building a bank of rose-tinted memories. Active outdoor adventures are known to bring real health and developmental benefits to children. According to child psychologist, Dr. Mandy Bryon, when children are allowed to experience risk, even in a controlled way, it helps develop their ability to deal with adversity and build self-confidence. It encourages them to think for themselves and develop resilience. It readies them for dealing with risks and uncertainties that are part of the big wondrous world. So we ask, who doesn’t want more active, healthy, resilient, confident and independent children?
Children Yearn For More Adventure
The Family Adventure Project reports that a survey of 1500 parents and 1103 kids in the UK conducted by One Poll in May 2010, revealed that 85% of children ranging from 6-12 long for more adventure in their lives, with 85% of parents saying adventure should be an important part of their children’s lives. Further survey questions revealed the dualism between the reality and desire of spending adventure time outdoors. Of the sample polled:
- 50% of kids had never taken part in any adventure sports.
- 41% of kids had never taken part in a scavenger hunt.
- 44% of parents played outside as a child more than their kids do.
- 38% of parents said they’re more protective of kids than their parents were.
- 40% of parents said they don’t have time or money to do adventure activities with their kids.
Children Suffer from “Nature Deficit Disorder”
Child advocacy expert, Richard Louv, addresses the staggering divide between children and the outdoors in his latest book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from the Nature-Deficit Disorder. Louv’s compelling research based case directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s “wired generation”—which he calls nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as a rise in obesity, attention disorders and depression. It is also important to look at nature-deficit disorder as it impacts society’s future as a whole. As we contemplate the current and future state of the environmental crisis, we must consider the environmental cost of a rising generation dissociated from nature. How can we expect kids that don’t know nature to respect or care for it?
There 5 Major Developmental Benefits of Outdoors Adventures
- Stimulate Curiosity and Creativity
Most children are innately curious and naturally creative. They want to know things; what’s behind that tree, what’s inside that cave? They want to make things; collect sea shells and arrange them into creative shapes, do mock cooking demos with leaves and flowers. By bringing your child outdoors, you will help stimulate their curiosity and foster their creativity, providing them new opportunities to learn and build their confidence.
- Improved Decision Making
Adventures are almost guaranteed opportunities to make learning mistakes. Adventures provide a chance to weigh the benefits of an activity against the risks. Proceed and get hurt, versus stay and be safe. For example, when teaching your child to ride a bike, you are equipping them with the knowledge to decide what hills or obstacles are too big to ride down and which ones aren’t. With appropriate support and guidance a child will learn to make good decisions.
- Greater Understanding of Emotions
Uh-oh, I’ve got butterflies! Adventures undoubtedly stimulate those scary-funny feelings we so often refer to as butterflies. According to the KidSpot, when doing something adventurous, children (and adults for that matter) quickly bounce from the serious, cautious emotions associated with fear, to playful, activity-focused emotions.
- Building Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Outdoor activities provide valuable alternative, often non-competitive, avenues for achievement. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to develop independence and self-reliance. Children often make major strides in self-confidence through successfully overcoming challenges they may endure while outdoors. Outdoor activities have also been know to nurture a sense of responsibility and purpose.
- Appreciation for the Planet
Exposing and educating your child to nature at a young age will foster a greater appreciation for the natural world around them. It will encourage them to be more actively aware and responsible for their impact on the environment.
Although adventure time will ramp up when your child enters their toddler years, taking them out for low impact adventures as baby’s will help to instill their adventurous spirit. For fun adventure ideas to take your little one on, check out our blog post: 5 Adventures For Dads of Young Kids.