I am very pleased to part of the National Trust bloggers campaign to help promote outdoor play, and I was really shocked, but not surprised, when one of my fellow bloggers Laura from @AboutLondon – blogged for Oik Strategy a list of 50 reasons kids don’t play outside anymore that she had compiled in less than an hour!
Some points were extremely valid, and many I have been guilty of in my time as a parent, but I did feel the need to respond.
1. Stranger Danger / Abduction Fear – a very real worry in this modern age, however there are no more abductions / attacks now than there were in the 70’s. This is something that I have witnessed closely as Sarah Payne was snatched from the field next to my parents house and I have memories of combing that field with other locals at the time, so what can we do to help calm this fear?
- Always accompany very young children
- Teach them to be aware of stranger danger, but not scaremonger
- Stay and Play with a group of children
- Have a strict boundary’s of where they are / aren’t allowed to go
- Have a strict time of when they have to be home
- Send older children out with a mobile phone
20. Too much effort to pack a bag, get kids changed, load a buggy etc – Just think how much fun your kids will have with an impromptu picnic – it doesn’t have to be posh – a drink, sandwich and a bag of crisps. Remember – they’ll sleep better later ;0)
21. Just not something your family does! – only you can change that.
22. Don’t like exercise – It doesn’t feel like exercise when you are having fun – beats running on a treadmill at the gym, anyday!
23. Poor health – parent or child – this is a tough one. It depends on what the issue is, but take advice from your GP / Health Visitor. Fresh air is important for a lot of rehabilitation.
24. Computer Game addiction – I really empathise with this one. As a mother of tween / teenagers it can be a real battle to get them out the door and sometimes the whining is almost unbearable. But, once they are out they really enjoy themselves and it is vital they get a break from computers and gaming. We have now made a pledge that they get an hours computer time, for an hour’s outdoor play and it is working!
|Start of the day – missing his computer and Minecraft!|
|Does this look like a face that hasn’t had fun?|
25. Kids don’t enjoy playing outdoors – play with them rather than supervising. They might just not know how to play!
26. Time pressures – Check out 10 minute activities on Project Wildthing
27. Inner city neighbourhood not safe for children to play – Ask yourself what makes it unsafe. Is there something you can do about it?
28. Dog Poo everywhere – one of my bugbears!! Tell the local council there is a problem, they should clean it up and help monitor the situation!
29. Kids are transported on cars and don’t walk much – can you walk to school? If it is walking distance away why not walk at least once a week, or if you have to drive – park in the next street! If you have a car, you have a better chance of being able to find somewhere fun to go!!
30. Foxes and wildlife – it is highly unlikely that any form of wildlife in the UK will hurt you – they are more scared of you, than you are of them! I am more worries about poorly trained dogs if I am honest!
31. Scaremongering in Newspapers – these stories are everywhere – papers, online even the TV. Take advice e.g. don’t walk until cliffs that are unstable, don’t swim in swollen rivers etc, but be sensible – there is still plenty you can do
32. Over-protective parents – Look back at your childhood and think how much fun you had outside – it’s a great learning tool and gives children the foundations to be happy and confident in the outside world!
33. Playing fields being sold off – find out what they’re putting there. If they’re building they may have to provide a children’s park as part of the agreement!
34. Bullying – bullying less likely to occur if parents there – do you know the child’s parents, could you talk to them?
35. Fear of neighbours – Is that Mr & Mrs Grumble? They can’t stop kids playing, just make sure the kids don’t deliberately target them.
36. Too many parked cars to play on the street – where is the nearest green space – garden they can use?
37. Inside is closer to food; often junk food – more reason to get them outside and exercising
38. Lethargy – easier to let the TV entertain than entertain yourself – it’s all very well watching people have fun on the TV, they need to experience it for themselves!
39. Lack of imagination – books, internet and even the TV are full of fun ideas. Use some key words to search!
40. Not safe to play alone in your own garden / backyard – it doesn’t cost much to make things safe if you really want to. Have a DIY party with family and friends, you’ll be surprised what you can achieve in a day!!
41. The internet for fun and learning – but not experiences!! We learn best when we try for ourselves
42. Obesity – don’t want to play as it isn’t easy when you’re fat – sadly it is a vicious circle to get in to. Speak to your GP, they have organised groups that can help where people encourage play, or take them somewhere quiet until they get their confidence.
43. Gangs in parks – Teenage gangs can be intimidating. I have found they tend to move on when your approach with kids and politely ask them to move, but if it’s an issue then it is a matter for your local police.
44. Drug Pushers in the bushes – Again a matter for the police
45. No transport to reach wild areas to play – another of my bugbears when I didn’t have my own car. Some places do run a minibus service on certain days – it is worth phoning to check. Do you have a friend / family member with a car – they may be able to help.
46. Need to go shopping instead – having food in the house is important – supermarkets are open 24 hours these days and it doesn’t take that long!!
47. Parents afraid kids making noise will annoy others – teach them to be respectful. Personally I have no issue with raucous play in daytime hours, it is after 7pm when I am trying to get little ones in bed that it can be frustrating.
48. Too embarrassed – don’t want to look silly – you never know – that silly moment could earn you £250 on “You’ve been framed”!!
49. No encouragement – family not teaching outdoor games – make up your own games, draw pictures in the mud using sticks, or get tips from friends!
50. Comparing parents in posh playgrounds – who cares what others think as long as you and the kids are having fun!!
There are some real issues in this list I don’t deny, but there are also some, quite frankly, lame excuses too! Do you have some better responses to mine, or ideas perhaps? I would love to hear them!
Resources and links for ideas about outdoor play:
- http://robandleo.com/ (A blog about connecting to Nature and the landscape)