7 Life Lessons Outdoors Teach Kids
Updated: Oct 28, 2020
There are several benefits that come from spending time outdoors as a family. The most important benefits are the life lessons our kids learn. My goal in sharing the lessons below, along with each blog post, is to encourage, inspire and provide ideas to help you find your own outdoor family fun.
The seven life lessons that we experience the most in the outdoors include how to:
Being in the outdoors requires preparation. It requires you to ahead think about what you will need to bring on a hike, camping or even just to walk the dog down the road. Weather, time of day, length, type of activity, elevation and more all influence your preparation for the outdoors.
My oldest recently started creating a list of things she needs to bring each time we go camping, without any prompting from me. She is learning ways to be prepared that work for her. I am fairly confident she could get us all ready for a camping trip without help.
Teaching kids how to prepare for the outdoors helps them learn how to think ahead and prepare in other ways, like schoolwork, clothes for next week, sports, college, and more.
2. DO HARD THINGS
The outdoors can provide a healthy and safe way for kids to overcome challenges. I will be the first to admit that camping, hiking and other outdoor activities aren’t always easy. However, as we work together as a family to overcome any obstacle my kids learn they can do hard things.
We celebrate their successes and accomplishments with high fives and hugs and a big “you did it”. While hiking I will tell me kids to look behind them on a mountainside they just climbed to see how far they have come.
There are times we celebrate with a fun treat at the end, but this is not a standard for us. I want my kids to learn that they can do something hard and not necessarily get a “prize” at the end. I want them to learn that they can do something hard and the satisfaction that they accomplished it be enough.
3. FIND HEALTHY OUTLETS
Given the increasing numbers of children reported with anxiety, depression and mental illness, it is more important than ever to find healthy outlets for them.
One of our daughters goes through phases of anxiety since a young age. In the beginning, the pediatrician wanted to immediately prescribe medication. However, I wanted to try other means to help her cope. This is not to say that medication is not necessary for some children, but I didn’t want to jump straight to medication. To be honest, we were not sure how it would go.
To start, we taught her how to recognize her stress and breathe. We also found that our adventures each week to the beach, wildlife reserve, Bok Gardens and eventually camping and hiking helped her find relief.
Although her anxiety still comes in waves, and can be frustrating for her and us, it is manageable without medication. Most importantly, she is slowly learning how to manage her own stress.
4. PROBLEM SOLVE
My goal as a parent is not to eliminate all problems for my children, but instead to teach them how to successfully work through the problems that confront them.
When outside camping or hiking a lot of creativity is required to problem solve. Google often isn’t available. Tent poles will break. The can opener will be left at home. Someone will trip on a hike.
These are real examples. At times, we have pulled out real maps. Our oldest loves to navigate. My husband had the kids help get spare first aid tape and electrical tape to patch a tent pole. We used a multi-tool pocket knife when we forgot a can opener, even though we eventually bugged a neighboring camper the kids were playing with to borrow theirs (hey, it’s still problem solving). Bandannas always comes in handy when someone gets hurt.
We have to use our brains to work through problems as individuals and as families. There will always be trial and error, but as kids learn how to problem solve in the outdoors they will also learn skills to problem solve on a bigger scale throughout their life.
5. BOND AS A FAMILY
When we are out in nature hiking, camping or simply enjoying walk, many distractions are eliminated that often prevent us from being present with our families. There isn’t a TV, video games, Alexa or music on in the background. The people we love are in front of us are there to connect with, instead of connecting with our electronics or friends in distant lands.
On a family hike recently, my two oldest daughters who sometimes clash at home spent a two miles (about an hour) just chatting together. I listened to them talk about school, friends and whatever other random subjects came up. This provided a bonding time for my daughters that wouldn’t have happened if we were at home with other distractions.
6. APPRECIATE NATURE
The more we are in the beauty of nature the more we come to appreciate and marvel in it.
As a family we try to notice details small and large. Whether it’s a cool rock in our back yard, a swamp in Florida, a beautiful mountain landscape, a sunset driving home from grandma’s house, or grand waterfall, we try to soak it all in.
Some of the games we play help us better appreciate nature. We love to see how many different colored flowers we can find on a hike, count the number of animals we spot on a trip, or hunt for rocks with a solid white strip that we like to call “wishing rocks.”
By simply getting outside and observing together, my children have learned to appreciate the natural wonders around us on their own. In fact, we chuckle each time they get upset when they find litter on a trail or graffiti on a rock surface. It shows us that they value nature and want to care for it properly.
7. BE ACTIVE
With increasing rates of childhood obesity, teaching our children how to live healthy active lifestyles is essential. Being outdoors frequently will teach your kids how to be active in a fun way. These healthy habits will continue into adulthood.
When my kids spend more than an hour in front of screen they become crabby and short tempered. However, when my kids are outdoors they are happier and kinder.
Life is precious and there are far too many adventures to be had to spend the majority of your spare time on electronics or in front of a screen. With the increasing amounts of screen time at our finger tips, the world needs more voices encouraging and inspiring our kids and their families to get outside and enjoy the benefits of being outdoors.
I started this blog to help be that voice. So join me for adventures off the couch and some outdoor fam fun!
Hi, I'm Corrine! I'm an outdoor enthusiast, mother of four, wife, nurse and runner. I believe God gave us this beautiful earth to explore, enjoy and protect.
My goal is to inspire you to get outside and create your own amazing memories as a family. Life is precious and there are too many adventures to be had to spend life on the couch or in front of a screen.
Join me and my family for "Adventures off the couch!" Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest @outdoorfamfun.