Why Doesn’t My Child Want to Play Outside?
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We all remember the “good old days” when kids used to play outside with friends on the weekends and after school. But today, this has become less common. This may be attributed to a plethora of factors including social distancing, safety, and an increasing reliance on social media and video games.
Many parents feel like they have a hard time motivating their child to play outside. They wish their child would go outside and “have fun” and “get moving,” but instead find that their child complains or refuses.
With coronavirus on the rise in Florida, it seems increasingly important to talk about why many kids don’t want to play outside, and what you might be able to do to help.
1. It’s too hot: As I write this blog, it is 90 degrees in Boca Raton, but feels like 102 degrees. To be quite honest, I am dreading taking my dog on his usual walk because it’s so hot. Although your child may not express it, the heat may be making it uncomfortable to play outside. What you can do:
a. Providing a shaded area.
b. Scheduling outside play during a cooler time of the day.
c. Provide your child with moisture-wicking clothing.
d. Prepare your child with a cold water bottle or small fan.
2. They get tired quickly: Some children may not have the endurance to play for an extended period of time. This means that they get tired quickly, or lose their breathe. One example is when a child runs outside for 5 minutes and then wants to go back inside or sit down. This is very common with my clients who struggle with their weight. What you can do:
a. Gradually and consistently build up the amount of time you play outside. First spend 5 minutes, then 7 minutes, then 10 minutes. Allow them to take breaks as needed. This helps build your child’s endurance safely.
3. They worry what their friends will think: Pre-teens and teens are extremely concerned about how others perceive them. If their friends are not playing outside, they likely won’t want to either. What you can do:
a. Talk to their friend’s parents and create a group challenge. For example, try challenging all the families to a photo scavenger hunt where the first family to finish wins! This way, your child can bond with their friends over the physical activity, instead of feeling uncomfortable.
4. They’re bored: Children move quickly through toys and are often inspired by novelty. If they’ve been skateboarding around the same neighborhood every day for the past month, it might not be fun anymore. What you can do:
a. Use your imagination. Kids just want to have fun. Try to find new ways to play outside to keep it interesting. One of my favorite things to do is invent new obstacle courses! For more ideas, check out our Pinterest board.
5. They don’t think they’re good at it: If your child has decreased strength, or coordination, this may contribute to their desire to be physically active. They may “give up” on challenging activities quickly. It they are not able to do an activity; it may feel frustrating or embarrassing. What you can do:
a. Make the activity easier by breaking it down into smaller steps. For example, if you are playing hopscotch, try having them jumping and land with two feet. If they can just easily with two feet, move up to jumping with one foot. Try making it into a game to make it more fun.
6. They don’t have anyone to play with: For families who are abiding by social distancing, this can be especially true. Your child is probably used to playing with friends, going to the park, or going to sports activities. Playing outside without their friends, might just not be as fun. What to try:
a. Play with them. Instead of just sitting outside and watching for safety, get involved with your child!
b. Try video chatting with another family. You can have your children doing the same activities over the video chat while you supervise. That way, they can still connect with their friends and have fun!
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Do the above factors not apply to your personal situation? If you are struggling with motivating your child to get moving, schedule your Free Lifestyle Consult today to see how we can help!
Please join me in making healthy fun,
OT 4 ME
PO Box 273965
Boca Raton, FL 33427