Spending time outdoors is crucial to the body, mind, and soul of your kids and yourself. While us adults know and understand the benefits of time in nature your kids might seriously not care.
Not even a tiny bit.
If you’ve ever experienced a preschooler protesting something you understand how difficult it can be to convince them without everyone ending up in tears.
There are times when you truly have to choose your battles, but sometimes you have to fight the good fight. On days when things aren’t going well indoors and you know that a little fresh air would do you all some good you may need to do some encouraging to get your begrudging kiddo who doesn’t want to go outside to consider changing their mind.
What to do when your child doesn’t want to go outside
You may be dealing with reasons ranging from “my feet get too cold” to “I’m allergic to the wind”. No matter what the argument is one of these strategies should help you into some change of scenery.
When your child gives you a reason as to why they don’t want to be outside try and come up with a solution to the problem. For example, if they get cold feet when they’re outside try offering to double up their socks or stick a disposable foot warmer in their boots. Or, bring those things and suggest they put the warmer on in between two pairs of socks on the car ride home. Try and come up with a solution together that would work for both of you.
Okay, so you want to head into the great outdoors; your kiddo refuses to get out of her pajamas. So, why not head into the great outdoors in your pajamas? They don’t want to wear those socks that will keep their feet super warm but won’t admit that so you’re going to hear the whining for the next hour, so let them go barefoot!
If you want to do something and you child wants to do something else try and find a happy medium. Maybe you go out for a walk to the playground with the promise of the cartoons he’s been begging for after you get home.
Life’s all about balance, and really, the bit of time that your child spends with Paw Patrol is the same time that you get to hide in your bedroom eating chocolate and scrolling through Facebook uninterrupted:)
It’s possible you have a bit of a competitively spirited child. Use this to your advantage. Challenge them to a duel between you and them.
-“I bet you can’t get your shoes on faster than me!”
-“I bet you don’t find more red leaves than I do!”
-“I bet you can’t go to bed on time after eating all of your dinner and not even come out of your room once to ask for water!!!”
That last one was a little far-fetched, but one can hope, can’t they?
It may also be worthwhile to make a visual challenge for your child. Make a graph at home showing how much time you have spent outside in the month, or have a “Bucket List” of places that you might want to see. If your child can see the progress that’s being made they may be more inclined to happily join you on little adventures!
Give them control
Your child may be more motivated to come to an agreement with you if they have some control. Try asking them where THEY want to go and what THEY want to do. Depending on their age, you may offer a younger child two suggestions that they can choose from. Allow them to help you choose snacks to bring. Get them to take the photos on the adventure. Let them choose which direction you go on the trail. Try and give them as much control (without giving them all the control, of course) as possible so that they feel capable on the trip and associate going outside with feelings of empowerment!
Ask them to bring a friend
Hiking is SO MUCH FUN with friends, but there are days when nobody’s available (ironically, these days seem to always fall on those days when you really, really need someone to come with you to distract your child from how grumpy they are). When it is available, though, our experience tells us it’s the best cure for a child who doesn’t want to be outside.
If this is the case, why not invite their favorite stuffed animal along on the trip? This may give them enough motivation to go if they’re getting to show a friend just how it’s done. Make sure to pack food accordingly;)
Take a deep breath
It can be difficult to negotiate with
terrorists unhappy children. One of the above strategies may be helpful, but quite frankly, you might just be out of luck this time. You know yourself and your child better than anyone. If you think it’s worthwhile to fight the good fight to leave the house then may the forest be with you, but it’s okay to concede, too.
What are some ways that you’ve convinced your reluctant kiddos to go outdoors?