Encouraging resilience in any child plays a crucial part in their overall well-being and success. Pair teaching resilience with outdoor play, and you’ve got yourself an excellent foundation that helps children face challenges, learn new skills and fosters self confidence. How? You might ask. Let us explore five ways the power of outdoor play can help in developing resilient kids.
Playing outside provides children with opportunities to take risks in a controlled environment. It is important to provide kids with challenging play equipment and activities that allow them to explore and be curious safely. For example, you could climb trees, play on rope bridges, jump on the tramp or at a tumbling gym. No matter what it is, get creative, and know that in the mean time they are developing coordination and physical strength, learning to assess risks and developing confidence in their ability to do difficult things.
Have you ever watched your child get frustrated about trying something new? Sometimes it can take everything we have not to fix the problem for them, but in many situations, that can be the best thing for them. Encouraging children to work through challenges and find solutions can help them learn how to problem-solve, especially during outdoor activities. When we let kids build forts, climb trees, or navigate obstacle courses without micromanaging, we allow their minds to decide what to do and how to do it their way.
Outdoor play provides children with opportunities to experience setbacks and failures. When children face these challenges, it is important to teach them coping skills. For example, if a child falls and hurts themself, you can teach them to take deep breaths and focus on something positive. Let them feel safe to talk about their feelings, and provide them with strategies for dealing with difficult emotions. These coping skills will help children manage future challenges as well.
Outdoor play also enables children to develop a greater sense of independence. For example, a family outdoor camping trip complete with hiking, smores, fishing, and lasting memories can teach children how to navigate directions on a hike, build a fire safely, set up a tent and throw a fishing line, all while fostering a belief that they are capable of doing things the’ve never done before.
Part of being resilient is having social skills, and one way to do that is through outdoor play. Engaging in group activities such as tag, hide and seek, or team sports can help children develop this skill set. Encourage your children to work together, share their ideas and support each other, and when conflicts arise, help them navigate these situations by finding a solution that works for everyone.
So, next time your children beg you to do something outside, jump at that offer! Because ultimately, by incorporating these elements into outdoor play, you will be helping them become more resilient, confident, and better equipped to navigate challenges in the future.