Hello! My daughter is 4, and we have been involved in Waldorf education and communities since she was very young (10 months). As a result, one of my core parenting philosophies has been that outdoor time and time in nature is a basic, fundamental need of young children. So, we've always done that, each and every day. Long story short, we recently moved to a new home in a new city about 1.5 hours away( hopefully our forever home), and now that we are settled in, I'm finding she's not very interested in playing outdoors. Which is ironic because we bought this house because it is on a huge wooded lot with a creek running through it. Since the move (about a month ago), my daughter has been very active in her play around the inside of the house, and especially our screened in pool out back. She seems content to play for hours with her dolls, sometimes with me, sometimes on her own, and a typical day consists of the morning inside and the afternoon playing in or near the pool. I'm not sure if things are just different, but this doesn't fit my idea of outdoor time or time in nature at all. I originally thought she just needed to get her bearings and once she settled in, she would be ready to explore outside. Perhaps I haven't given her enough time to adjust to the new home? I'm also wondering what is reasonable to expect. I certainly remember playing for hours outside as a child just in my own yard, but perhaps I'm remembering being a bit older. Our other challenge is she is an only child, so she only has me to play with right now. But even when other children come over, she wants to play inside. Even if I suggest the park, about 8/10 times she says she just wants to stay home. That is new. Thoughts? I had this fantasy of her happily playing in the woods behind or house or near the creek while I did yard work, but that hasn't really happened yet. Ideas about what is ideal, but age appropriate for this age? How much time do children need to adjust to a new home?
I would expect a 4 year old to be playing near — and within watch — of her mother or other care-taker. Perhaps your daughter's instinct is to stay close to you during the day.
Instead of suggesting the park, you might tell her "We're going for a walk now. Get your hat!" Bring a doll or stuffed animal to "enjoy" the walk with you. Do her animals and dolls "talk?" If they do, you can talk to them too. Tell the stuffed bear "We're going out in the woods today to hunt for flowers. Tell Baby Girl to get her shoes on and come with us!" I assume she has imaginary friends or that she talks with her dollies. I found it always worked well to form an alliance with the imaginary friends. ; )
Those are good suggestions. We've only been in the new house a month. And, yes, she does pretty much stay near me. Today I worked in the yard, and she played imaginatively nearby, and also helped me/sort of played with gardening. I guess this will just take time.
Claudia, great idea about the alliance with imaginary friends. I use that trick occasionally, for example, I have a sock puppet who is very persuasive about teeth brushing. I never thought of it as a tool to get her interested in going somewhere. Genius.
I was an "only" child myself, so talking with stuffed animals came very naturally to me. The animals spoke throughout my son's childhood. We both did their voices. (One of his friends said that when she came over it felt like she was visiting Shari Lewis's house. In a good way of course.) I think if it comes naturally to you, it can be a great deal of fun to share in this kind of imaginary play with your daughter.
The only time it back-fired was when we forgot and drove away, leaving the imaginary friends on the front porch. We had to go back for them. We always took a stuffed animal, or two, on nature walks. Who wouldn't enjoy walking through the woods with a fox or a bear? Or a skunk?
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