You are worried because your kid enjoys more time outdoor, playing in the sand and mud? She is least interested in the expensive toys and educational CDs you got for her?
Just take a moment and glance through the pages of your childhood. Do you remember how you spent your summer holidays? Whenever I think of my summers, the picture that comes to my mind is playing with my brothers, cousins and friends in the mud. Compared to the toys, what the present generation kids have, we hardly had any toys. But that doesn’t mean that we had less fun. Literally we could spend hours playing in the dirt. We used to be delighted if there was a construction going on in the vicinity, because we could play with the sand. We would come home to have milk and food. Of course, we would wash our hands before having food.
I am sure most of you also would have got dirty as children. That is what childhood is for- getting dirty!!!
Then, why are we stopping our kids from playing outside? Is that because they will get dirty or they may catch some infection?
It is been scientifically proven that playing in dirt has many positive effects on not only the body but also the soul of a kid.
Did you know that dirt can make you happy? A kind of bacteria found in soil activates neurons that produce serotonin, which is a natural anti-depressant.(research article)
When children are exposed early to dirt (let to play outside in mud and sand), they develop better immune system and will be better disease-resistant. If the kids are brought up in ‘over hygienic conditions’, they will not be exposed to micro-organisms. Obviously, they don’t develop immune system and this leads to higher rates of asthma, eczema and other allergic diseases.
Since last two decades, we have been hearing many complications in kids. e.g. Attention deficit disorders, obesity and depression. When I asked a child psychiatrist the reason for this, she explained that there were attention deficit disorder cases before also. Since the kids were allowed to play outside, to get dirty and let to experience many things on their own, the disorder was cured naturally. When the kids are not exposed to nature, the natural growth of the body, thinking and soul will be hindered. It is called “nature-deficit disorder”.
I have observed that the kids laugh more while playing outside. My daughter enjoys making dirt cake and mud pies, she will pick up the leaves on the road and put them in her small toy bucket. She will be so immersed in her ‘work’, that I wonder many times what joy she finds in this. She has fascination for dirt. So I make sure that every day I let her play outdoors, whatever she likes. Now she assesses risks better, while climbing and getting down stairs, while running, while jumping from a height and more.
Related: Allow kids to have their own experiences
A couple of important tips I got from my doc are –
– Do not use anti-bacterial soap or hand sanitizers. A good old normal soap is enough to keep our kids clean.
– Avoid antibiotics for seasonal flu, common cold and cough. Let the kid develop immune system naturally.
Summer vacation has arrived. Let us surprise our kids by letting them do their favourite things, which we have been avoiding all these days. Let us allow them to get dirty. Let’s join our hands with theirs to create different shapes out of mud. Let’s introduce them to the nature by teaching them to sow seeds (a large pot would be sufficient, if you don’t have a garden). Let them feel the real insects and worms, which they have been seeing in the books and watching on TVs. Let’s take them to farms and interact with animals.
It’s alright if they don’t wear clean, colourful clothes. It’s okay if they stink, let them smell like children. Let’s let our kids enjoy their childhood like children!!!