Four reasons why you should take your grandchildren outside:
Getting them away from electronic devices
It would appear that these days if left to their own devices most children and young people will choose to occupy their time watching television or playing on whatever electronic device is available to them. In my experience this can result in them being uncommunicative, unsociable and they will commit hours to this this type of mindless activity without adult intervention.
Our children are spending more time inside than ever before. Apparently research suggest that children ages 8-18 spend more than six hours each day with electronic media. Excessive use of electronic devices are especially bad for our children. As children spend less time outside, unhealthy habits begin to form.
Children who spend little time outside are at risk for developing chronic health problems. Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and depression are common companions of a sedentary indoor lifestyle. Grandparents have an important role in helping their family learn healthy habits and encourage playing outside instead of playing on electronic devices.
Social media has become an excessive focus for young people. This has the potential for negative side effects including problems with self-image, low self-esteem, low confidence all leading to potential harmful outcomes – bullying, grooming and obsession with body image and appearance
Fresh air, exercise and health
Staying indoors can have a negative effect on the health of our children. Getting outside with your grandchildren can positively affect their health in a number of ways:
· Provides them access to fresh air
As adults many of us take fresh air for granted. We are not aware of the impact of poor air quality on the young people in our families. Many of our children and young people live and grow up close to urban areas. Many of our major towns and cities have poor air quality. In fact the World Health Organisation data indicated that 32 towns and cities in Britain exceed the guideline for fine particle emissions. This type of air pollution, which come from sources such as transport, industry, coal plants and burning wood, fuels or waste, is linked to conditions including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and disease, and respiratory infections.
· Relieves stress
Getting outside with your grandchildren can help them escape the stress of school or from excessive use of electronic equipment. Stress is unhealthy when not managed properly. Luckily, there is a natural stress reliever available to everyone if they just get outside into the natural world.
Spending time in nature relieves stress in both young people and adults.
Research suggest regular trips outdoors are a reliable way to manage stress. Experiences in nature are low cost and accessible to everyone.
Other health benefits include:
· Improves attention and focus
· Strengthens the immune system
· Get used them used to walking
Don’t ignore the fact that one of the biggest reasons for getting outside with your grandchildren is to simply to enjoy the experience. Children see things through different eyes than adults and respond naturally in a more mindful and joyful way. Whether it is feeding ducks at the park, picking up pine cones on a walk in the forest and simply paddling in a puddle of water on a path after a shower of rain it is always done with unrestrained enthusiasm, energy, courage, commitment and joy.
Introducing them to new experiences
The natural world provides unlimited opportunities for new experiences, for the different senses, because it is constantly changing. Getting outside in nature allows children and young people to be exposed to new experiences which provide opportunities to learn and grow. Grandparents can provide the supportive environment and adult supervision to allow them to try out and experience new things. To test themselves against new challenges. Every grandparent will recognise the feelings of pride and humility they feel when their grandchild first walks across the stepping stones over a pond, without their hand being held or feeds the ducks with food from their hand for the first time. Adults need to simply provide access to those new experiences and the children will do the rest – with appropriate supervision, of course.
The benefits to the older person
The enthusiasm, fun and learning that children and young people demonstrate when the are outside in nature is infectious. Those positive emotions are infectious and resonate with the accompanying grandparents. Research shows that activities that include children and older adults in shared activities can increase self-esteem and build relationships. Shared experiences with children and young people in the outside can help build mindfulness amongst their older companions. Mindfulness simply means people noticing more about what is going on around them, being present in the present. Increased mindfulness has been showed to have important health benefits for the elderly, including