Girl holding lawn weeds outdoor

The great outdoor, your child's best playground

I was at the park with my 5-year old. It was a sunny morning with a gentle breeze. We had just finished playing basketball at the court nearby and taking a break. The next thing I saw, she was digging something from the ground. Curious, I walked over to find out what she was up to. "I'm digging diamonds," said she. "Will you help me dig out this big one over here?" "Sure", came my replied and we dug out quite a few "diamonds".

I'm convinced that the great outdoor - be it a neighbourhood park, a jungle or a forest - is the best playground ever. They provide many natural stimulations for a child's growth. A child gets to touch the rough tree bark, smell the scent of grass and flowers, see the lush greenery, feel the gentle breeze on the skin and listen to the melodious chirping of birds on tree branches. Being in such an environment helps children to appreciate the wonders nature has to offer. It also encourages creative imaginations as they interact with it.

Have you ever seen a child who is unhappy while playing outdoor? Frankly, I have not. Children love the outdoor until they are conditioned otherwise either due to circumstances or lazy parenting. Studies have shown that apart from vitamin D - vital at regulating the absorption of calcium, phosphorus and facilitating the healthy function of the immune system, exposure to sunlight for as little as 5-15 minutes also produces Serotonin in our body.

Being the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness, Serotonin impacts your entire body. Besides enabling communication between brain cells and other nervous system cells, it also helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion. Having too little Serotonin may lead to depression. It explains why we tend to feel more gloom on wet rainy days.

Children often misbehave when their excess energy is not being channelled in the right place. Being out in nature allows the child to release their penned-up energy as they engage with their surrounding through various activities. Consequently, the child will become calmer and would focus better on tasks at hand, be it learning, socializing or any other activities. Before the pandemic, school teachers would bring my daughter and her classmates on Mondays for a "nature walk" by the lakeside near the school with such purpose after lazy weekends. I thought that was a very nice activity.

So, treat the great outdoors as your friend and bring along your child and let them marvel at the wonders it offers. Happy parenting.

The Benefits of Vitamin D | Healthline
What Is Serotonin | Hormone Health
What Are The Benefits of Sunlight | Healthline
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