Tips for Encouraging Kids to Spend More Time Outdoors

Wednesday, December 04, 2019 • American Fork, UT 84003



















With kids of all ages spending so much time inside on screens, it’s wise for parents to look for ways to encourage young ones to put down devices and get some fresh air — plus, hopefully, some physical activity, too.

However, getting children into the great outdoors isn’t always the easiest feat. As such, it’s helpful to have some strategies available to use.

Lead by Example

First up, think about what you’re doing to be a role model for your children. Do you lead by example when it comes to getting off screens and outdoors, or do you tell them one thing and do another? Show your kids that you prioritize an active lifestyle for yourself by choosing to get outdoors regularly, with and without your youngsters.

Spend Time Outdoors Together

A great way to encourage children to get out into the world is to plan outdoor time together as a family. The list of possible activities is long enough that you can try something new each week, or you can pick a few favorites that everyone loves and focus on them.

It pays to mix things up throughout the year to keep the activities interesting for your kids. Explore a range of different outdoor environments, and check out new areas of your town, city or surrounding area. Plus, look for ways to create helpful active routines and habits. For instance, you could all walk the dog first thing in the morning together, spend some time weeding and cleaning up in the backyard each weekend or always take the stairs or park at least five to 10 minutes’ walk away from destinations to increase incidental exercise.

Make Outdoor Activities Social

Another helpful way to get kids active is to make things more social for them. For example, encourage them to invite a friend or two over to play regularly, particularly other children who love to be outside and will incentivize your youngster to follow suit. Kids are generally more likely to play outdoors when they’re in groups.

Alternatively, chat with neighbors in your street or surrounding areas that have children, and take it in turns supervising outdoor games all the kids can take part in. You could also organize a playgroup that meets after school for active pursuits.

Remember, too, that many children love being a part of sports teams. The social aspect keeps them motivated to practice and to compete in team competitions, and many groups require a commitment of at least two to three sessions per week. This means your child will be active for at least those days during the sporting season.

If you’re not sure which sports your child might be interested in, give them the chance to try out a wide variety. Expose them to all sorts of activities (not just the ones you love), so they can find something that appeals to them. Once your child has some defined sporting interests, further encourage them by enrolling them in camp programs. For example, do some research, and you should find everything from a girls’ summer soccer camp and boys’ baseball intensives through to gymnastics tournaments or multi-day dressage horse riding events.

Don’t Make a Fuss About Mess

Some kids don’t like to spend time in the great outdoors because they’re worried about getting dirty and winding up in trouble for it. Avoid this situation by refusing to stress about potential mess such as mud, sand, water, dirt or other debris traipsed through the house after kids have been playing in the yard or elsewhere. Remind yourself of the benefits of their outdoor time.

If you particularly struggle with this idea and have a low tolerance to mess, mitigate the issue by setting up a simple cleaning station at the back door. You could get kids to take off dirty shoes and clothes in the mud room, utility room or similar space they first enter and have fresh water, facecloths, soap and towels ready for them to use to get the bulk of the dirt cleaned up.

Getting your kids to ignore screens for at least a little time each day can feel like an impossible task. However, putting in some effort to encourage them, and finding ways to be strong when they resist such changes, will lead to new behaviors sooner than you might think.