Kids who don't like playing outside - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-24-2010, 03:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a problem with my kids, DS more so. They are not big on being outside. They have things to play with out there-swing set, balls, a small slide/climbing frame, outdoor activities etc but they are just not into it.

I hear people saying they throw the kids outside and don't see them for hours but here that just doesn't happen. I get them to go outside after school for a short set period in the hope that they'll lose track of time and then stay out there but it rarely works.

They do swimming lessons and soccer after school-so that's 2 days with 1-2 hours of outdoor activity; and on weekends DH is good at taking them to the pool or for a bike ride. But in terms of playing outside at home, it just doesn't happen naturally and turns into a chore.

Any suggestions?
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Old 06-24-2010, 09:04 AM
 
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It sounds like he does get some activity,so I would just let it go.My kids are in and out.Some days they swim all day or jump on the trampoline.Other days they are inside with the PS2 or Wii.

I am the same way in that some days I want to putter out in the yard all day,and other days I just want to sit inside and watch tv.
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Old 06-24-2010, 09:06 AM
 
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Mine is always outside, but only because other kids are, too. If there weren't tons of other kids outside to play with, she wouldn't want to play outside either.
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Old 06-24-2010, 09:35 AM
 
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My kids are outside pretty much all day, even in 90 degree humidity. They don't have a playset (the neighbors do, but they rarely play on it). They are outside because there are neighbor kids to play with. Do your kids have neighbor friends? If not, maybe you can invite a friend over and then tell them to play outside.

When the neighbor kids aren't home, they still play outside a lot, but I let them take their legos outside and they build little caves and lakes to play with their legos in. So maybe sending them out with some of their inside toys would help.

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Old 06-24-2010, 10:18 AM
 
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One suggestion is to spend more time outside yourself. Maybe you already are outside a lot, I don't know of course. There are lots of household things you can do outside - hang laundry, garden, cook (on a BBQ) and serve breakfast, lunch AND dinner.... Aside from setting an example, if the kids help then that will increase their outside time alone. And you can do your own "playing" outside - exercise, play musical instruments (maybe not the piano, lol), crafts, reading, coffee get-togethers with your friends etc.
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Old 06-24-2010, 10:47 AM
 
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OP- what kind of activities are your kids doing inside instead of playing outside after school?

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Old 06-24-2010, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OP- what kind of activities are your kids doing inside instead of playing outside after school?
A bit of everything-reading, Wii, drawing, playing the keyboard thingy [music], fighting!

DS especially has never been a toy player. Toys just don't interest him. If he's inside it's fairly likely he'll be reading or doing Wii or drawing.

DD plays with toys inside, Wii, plus draws mainly.

I like the idea of taking some inside things outside-lego is pretty durable and can be made more interesting outside.

DD had a play friend over yesterday and they played a lot outside, until DS annoyed them so much that it turned into screaming! Friends helps but I can't deal with play dates more than once a week at the most.


OK, yes I confess I am not a good role model! Outside stuff does not thrill me...so must.go.outside.more

Damn, I thought there'd be some magic potion i could give them and they'd turn into outdoorsy types!

Thanks
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Old 06-24-2010, 11:59 AM
 
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i know this isn't of the "throw em in the backyard and lock the door" kind of thing, but what if you guys went hiking once a week all together? Outdoors doesn't necessarily have to be in your own yard.
Maybe since ds sounds a little bookish, you could find some woods or green space, have him bring his sketch book, check him out some nature guides (like the field guide to mushrooms, fg to trees, etc.) and have him try to identify stuff and maybe sketch things? then maybe it would translate to looking for bugs to draw in the yard at home?
other ideas: how about a night prowl? with a flashlight at night, look for fireflies, nocturnal critters, etc.
or start with a camping trip and let the kids plan out activities and make lists? get them books on camping and what to bring types of things?
if ds's a reader, get him interested through his love of reading!

oh, and.. there are some interesting ideas in the book The Last Child in the Woods.. you might want to look through that one.

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Old 06-24-2010, 12:01 PM
 
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OK, yes I confess I am not a good role model! Outside stuff does not thrill me...so must.go.outside.more

Damn, I thought there'd be some magic potion i could give them and they'd turn into outdoorsy types!

Thanks
Ahhh - then this summer will be a fun time for your whole family to do some nature walks or hikes, bike-riding, geo-caching, tennis, road hockey, driveway basketball, backyard badminton, frisbee, picnic-ing, lounge-ing around ...TOGETHER!! How about some outdoor venues for concerts, plays, and festivals? They could put on their own backyard talent show. So much fun to be found outside, but if they are used to indoors, they'll probably need some direction, motivation and good role-modeling.
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Old 06-24-2010, 03:46 PM
 
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I was a little inside-worm when I was younger because my favorite thing to do in summer was sit in bed with a stack of books and a frosty glass of lemonade. My parents encouraged me to get outside by taking us fishing, or for nature walks, or just eating meals outdoors which is always a blast.

I mean, unless kids are sitting in front of the TV like zombies all day and are engaging in creative types of activities, I think it's not a big deal if they aren't outside 24-7. If you want to encourage them, try finding some cool swimming holes, doing nature walks, or going on picnics a few times a week.

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Old 06-24-2010, 03:57 PM
 
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Your ds could do most of what he like outdoors (no Wii of course!). What if he had a project to do, like build a lean to, or fort of some kind, and had some cool adventure books to go with it-fiction and nonfiction. A camping cot, flashlights, maybe a little fire pit where marshmallows or hot dogs could be roasted? This could be "his" outdoor space. He could make his own personal flag to hang up. I'm not sure how old he is, but maybe some of that would appeal?

My kids are outdoors kids, and a tree fort is a big part of their summer project. Mine are school aged and preteen, and this type of activity appeals to both.

Have you read any of the British series about the family of kids that lives on an island by themselves and has some pretty good adventures? I'm blanking on the name-I'll be back when I think of it. My Side of the Mountain is a great read aloud for some good adventure as well.
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Old 06-24-2010, 04:22 PM
 
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My son is not a toy person, either, so the traditional things you'd have around for kids to do outside just would not appeal to him, either. He does spend a fair amount of time outside, but doing the things he'd like to do inside - we set up an easel in the yard for painting, I have a big bucket of sidewalk chalk that stays on the porch, so they can draw on the walk. We've planted a bean teepee they can hide in, lots of herbs and fruits (raspberries (in pots, so they can pick without touching prickers), strawberries, etc.) they can snack on when they're outside, and as someone else mentioned, they have nature guides that they can read and use to explore. Sometimes we throw a blanket over the picnic table or the clothesline to make a tent - the perfect spot for sitting and reading or just playing quietly. We have a rule that in the summer paint and playdough belong outside only, so that will entice them outside even when they'd maybe rather be inside. Snacks and meals are also served out-of-doors. It saves me a little cleaning time, which is an added bonus. And as others have mentioned, neighborhood friends are great, especially if all of the parents work together to encourage the kids to play outside.
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Old 06-24-2010, 04:24 PM
 
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my DD LOVES drawing on the sidewalk/driveway with chalk... so thats a way for her to be outside and be creative like she prefers.

DS is a book worm and video game geek so his outdoor time is sometimes spent playing the DS on the porch or reading a book in the grass... that way he gets his fresh air while not being punished in any way.

Of course... thats only when he has been particularly indoorsy... he also enjoys going outside just to play ball or ride his bike too so I rarely have to push him to take his portable activities outdoors.

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Old 06-24-2010, 05:55 PM
 
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My son is not a toy person, either, so the traditional things you'd have around for kids to do outside just would not appeal to him, either.
My dd isn't into toys either, but she does seem to find a lot of outside stuff to do with the other neighborhood kids, but we're lucky to have some woods and empty lots nearby, so the kids dig holes, make mud or forts, they were picking mulberries the other day, that kind of thing. But you have to have kids old enough to go out into the woods (and there's probably debate as to how old that is) AND of course you have to have free space like woods or whatever around for that to work out. But outdoor play can certainly be very dirty. My dd sometimes strips down as she enters the house and goes straight to the tub after playing.

There are so many variables to getting kids to play outside: personality, other kids, free spaces available, age, etc. I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer.
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Old 06-24-2010, 06:00 PM
 
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My oldest ds was not into hanging out outside or playing with toys much. He would rather be inside reading. What finally got him interested in playing outside more was a mud/dirt pit area that we ended up with in one area of our yard. Digging in it, playing with the small rocks around it, finding bugs in it, etc. He entertained himself for hours with it. Of course, we had to make strict rules about what clothes/shoes he needed to wear in it.

Now at 14 I can barely get him inside!
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Old 06-24-2010, 06:17 PM
 
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also, maybe try to make the outside comfortable. Here in 100+ heat, there's no way we'd be happy about going outside as a kid after school, but in the evening, or maybe a trip to the pool would be different.

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Old 06-26-2010, 02:21 AM
 
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There's a difference between wanting your kids to enjoy the outdoors/nature/real world and wanting them to be somewhere occupying themselves. What do you really want?

If you want them to appreciate the outdoors and nature, then you probably have to move beyond your backyard...even if there are toys out there, it might not interest them. My kids dig for worms, eat stuff out of the garden, hide in the trees. Is your yard a suburban lawn or have you allowed/created a natural world that attracts birds, ladybugs, has adequate shade and places to play...an actual children's garden? There's only so much creativity you can get out of a swingset and some balls.

Sounds like you hit the nail on the head with the idea of role modeling and imitation.

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Old 06-27-2010, 01:33 PM
 
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But outdoor play can certainly be very dirty. My dd sometimes strips down as she enters the house and goes straight to the tub after playing.

.
I keep a basket lined with a thick plastic garbage bag in both my mudroom, and the french door entrance to my kitchen (too many entrances in this house!). Wet, dirty clothes go straight in there for the wash, rather than being tracked through the house. I also have a shower on the first floor in the small downstairs bathroom, so kids can go straight to the shower as well. We set up an outdoor shower in the summer as well.
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Old 06-28-2010, 05:12 PM
 
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If my kids are playing on the computer, and I ask them to go outside to play, 90% of the time they have no interest. So instead I make it a choice, only all of the choices are outside. For example; "OK, let's go out. Do you want to go to the play house, or bike to the middle playground, or play soccer"? Now they get to decide, and I generally have to go with them, but it gets them, and me, out.

Another thing that works well is actual projects. If I need herbs for dinner, then I make it an invitation to get them involved. For example, "DS/DD, who will help me pick some scallions and thyme for the recipe?" This can get them out the door for a few minutes to cut the herbs, but then 50% chance something catches their eye and they stay out another half an hour. DH does all the garden work, so he has a lot of projects; raking, mowing, trimming hedges, weeding... The kids are often interested in working alongside him, whereas they would never do this just by themselves. For example, they have their own small rake, so while DH is doing the real raking work, DS and DD can use their rake to help, which ends up them raking 5 minutes, running off to make sand cakes for 15 minutes, coming back to rake another 2 minutes, finding a ladybug and making a nest for her for 5 minutes, raking another 2 minutes, using the swing, making a fort out of sticks..... and pretty soon it is 2 hours later.
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Old 06-28-2010, 09:52 PM
 
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Ds doesn't play with toys a whole lot either, but he likes active things outside - scooters, bikes, swing, seesaw, t-ball, frisbee, a pulley. You get the idea.

You could get a puppy
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Old 06-29-2010, 12:53 AM
 
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I've had success with my nine year old by saying "Do you want to go play outside or help me clean up?"

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