Time outside may be beneficial in general, but not all outdoors are created the same. Although much of the world’s population lives in urban areas, humans are hardwired for nature specifically. Even the most disconnected individual will typically start getting comfortable outdoors and learn to appreciate the peace and beauty of nature.

However, a love of the outdoors that leads to healthier, happier kids often starts with the parents. Dr. Jessica Myszak, a child psychologist and the director of The Help and Healing Center, says, “More than anything else, parents can help children embrace the outdoors and opportunities to socialize safely by modeling these behaviors themselves.” You’re probably familiar with the old saying, “Do as I say and not as I do,” but it doesn’t work with kids in today’s day and age. 

Dr. Myszak adds, “Screen time has been more prevalent in all of our lives, and as parents’ work and home lives have blurred, being able to turn off the computer, silence the phone, and engage in play and fun activities will speak volumes. Showing children that you are willing to do it will be much more effective than anything you would say to them.”

The inertia aspect of getting kids outside after such a long time of lockdown is initially challenging. Like a heavy stone, getting it to budge at first requires the most energy, but once it’s rolling, far less effort is needed.

Keep persistent — time in nature and increased outdoor playtime have many benefits, including: