What do children really need? What is our perception of our kids’ needs? Are we providing them with what they truly need? These questions have crossed my mind as I spend hours observing children at the beach.
You see children basically dragging themselves to the beach carrying their tablets and iPads while their parents are busy carrying the beach equipment. Here and there, you hear “Mommy, it’s yucky! Sand is in my shoes!” However, it is fascinating to observe the transformation in these children as soon as they discover the beauty that nature has to offer. In a split second, you hear children screaming from joy while splashing in the lake, toddlers chasing seagulls and butterflies; you see children making friends and spending hours digging, building sand castles and playing beach soccer.
What happened to the devices that they brought to the beach? Why are they choosing the shovels over the tablets? Kids are highly intuitive, and they have a strong sense of what is truly good for them. Children are hungry for connectedness to nature and other humans; these are the prerequisites for a healthy and happy child’s development and can’t be substituted for the baby sitting services of technological gadgets, indoor and sedentary lifestyle. No technological advancement can change the essence of human nature. Just like flowers, children blossom if provided with essential nutrients and wither if provided with inferior substitutes. Unfortunately, as a society we are going down a dangerous path of depriving our children of the essential human needs and consequently hindering our children’s development.
As parents, we often feel obligated to give our kids the best clothes, technology, and entertainment. Unfortunately, these “things” bring a short-lived, momentary happiness. What children truly need for long lasting happiness and healthy development is the outdoors, nature, movement, and connections with other humans. Their needs are very simple and completely free, but are in short supply in our modern world.
Let’s help our children blossom!
- Make a routine of connecting your child to nature at least an hour a day.
- Provide children with opportunities for fishing, gardening, hiking, swimming, and biking
- Teach children to pay attention to details in the environment, like:
- listening to birds, wind, waves, looking for flowers, bugs etc.
- exploring using binoculars, a magnifying glass, or a flash light
- playing “I spy” games
- Make outdoor picnics and camp in the backyard
- Let them splash in puddles, get dirty in the mud, walk barefoot on soil, grass or sand
- As a family, enjoy doing yoga on the grass, hugging trees, and reading books in nature
- Go for nighttime walks to explore the sky, spend time sitting around a bonfire or fireplace
- Make homemade bird feeders and take the time to watch the birds
- Provide recycled materials for your child to build forts
- Collect leaves, stones, and pine cones to make art projects
- Encourage your child to help you rake leaves or shovel snow
- Together with your child listen to music with nature sounds and discuss what each of you hears and feels
Have a great school year!