Why we no longer go out and play?
"The earth doesn’t belong to us : we belong to the Earth” - Marlee Martin
Today at World Environment Day , I am forced to ponder are we getting more and more disconnected with nature? Due to our insecurities, are we also pushing the kids to move away from nature. We the millenial parents are worried more about the risks of the outdoor play, mosquito bites, tanning of the skin or simple cuts by falling that we push the child away from embracing nature and enjoying childhood.
I still remember as a kid we were always found outside after school climbing trees , building forts in the garden, making our own magical stories while hanging from the top branch of the tree, making paper boats and putting it on the creeks in the rainy season, playing in the mud etc. This makes me wonder have our children in the city like mumbai lost their touch with nature? Do the kids of today suffer from “nature deficit disorder “?
Have we become so internet savvy that we get happy when a baby is able to press buttons on phone before he /she walks or talks making going out and playing outdoors rather uncool and boring because it has been taken over by screen time, ever increasing competition, structured classes and tuitions !
Do we realise that in an effort to be savvy and smart by being glued to our mobiles we are slowly leading our children to the path of childhood obesity , ADHD ( Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and childhood depression.
Have we ever thought that if the kids aren’t exposed to the nature, they may not develop compassion for the nature ? How can they feel the need to protect the nature and our environment all together if they are not environmentally conscious or exposed to it. I strongly feel that the key to all of this is finding the right balance. High time we all take one step at time and help them to develop a lliking for nature and love to create a sustainable and greener nature.
There are many activities that can be planned outdoors as a family to mark the ocassion of World Environment Day and also to teach the kid to feel closer to the nature.
1. Admire the nature : Get going outside and appreciate the beauty of nature. Plant trees, feed birds, put pots of water outside your balcony for thirsty birds in this scorching summer. I try to do such activities and while doing so, I try to talk to lil P the reason behind the activity and encourage him to build compassion for the birds, animals, trees. In my observation, kids are quite receptive and they do understand when its told repetitively.
2. The power of Recycling : Every month I take out toys that no longer hold lil P's interest and ask him to give it away to the lesser privileged kids. I have also subscribed to a local library where in I give away the toys and swap the toys on a monthly basis. It is a win win situation as lil P get new toys after every few days. In this way, they 'll not be spoilt for choice and if they are bored of their toys they know that their is an effective way to get new toys.
3. Litter picking : Keeping the environment healthy and free from rubbish is the best gift to the nature. I try to teach him to always throw rubbish in the dustbin and also have recently graduated by telling him to not to litter the parks and school and throw it in the dustbin whenever he sees one. Not only is this good manners but also teaches them to be aware of the environment they are living. What better way to start teaching them than on world environment day by doing a family litter picking activity which can be some fun time and bonding for the entire family.
4. Making small changes in our daily lives : We all know the hazards of plastic to our environment and what better way than to educate the kids too on the ill effects of plastic. Making small adjustments like adopting no plastic bag policy as a family can go a long way to drive the message to our kids to save the environment. A kindergarden school in Auckland got all their kids and parents to adopt the no plastic bag policy and quite suprisingly the toddlers took part in this enthusiastically as they wanted to save the fish, the turtles, the tortoise and birds! empower the child to see the magic unfold. Not only will the kid follow in school but he/ she will also follow the cause at home and outside and ensure others follow it too.
Have you planned any activities with lil one on World Evironment Day? Would love to hear more ideas to teach the kids to be socially more aware and responsible towards Mother Nature.