“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru
One of the most common mistakes made by parents living in Singapore may surprise you.
I have 2 young children, and I love bringing them outdoors to the many parks and gardens around the city. The beautiful Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has been our go-to place every other weekend for hikes and long walks.
"Where do you find the time?” I get that a lot. I have come to realise that many young parents around me do not bring their children outdoors regularly. To many who shuttle between running errands and going for enrichment classes, choosing to take a walk in the park may be deemed as an unproductive and inefficient way to spend their precious time.
And why does that matter? There are tons of research proving the many benefits outdoor experiences have on children’s learning and well-being. It is essential for the development of gross motor and cognitive skills, and lays the foundation for active and healthy living. Building a connection with nature also nurtures a sense of empathy and responsibility towards the environment.
Amongst them all, here are the three most important reasons that resonate with me.Practising mindfulness
I’ve witnessed how experiences in nature allow my children to be fully present in the moment. Their senses are heightened and they display a strong awareness of their surroundings and their feelings. It is not easy for children to recognise and regulate their emotions, and I’ve found nature to be an excellent coach in this aspect.
Expecting the unexpected
No trip outdoors is the same. While the route we take can be similar, we always see and experience different things. A playful monkey, an impending thunderstorm mid-way through a hike, walking into a spiderweb - it’s unexpected moments like these that have become our favorite memories. On these trips outdoors, my children have come to expect the unexpected; they’ve come to embrace them.
And it is important to have them become open to the possibility of things going against expectations. I believe it helps to build resilience - an essential trait that will help them handle change and stress with grace.
Empowering change agents
We know that our children are incredible agents of change; that they are our planet’s future. But how can we expect them to care for our environment; to lead and drive sustainability efforts for the future, if they do not have an appreciation of and respect for the natural world we live in?
As the global climate crisis accelerates, raising environmentally conscious children cannot be left to chance. We have an important part to play by helping our children build a relationship with nature. It is what we must do to help our children understand their role as a citizen of the world, as well their role in supporting sustainability.
Our children are not going outdoors enough. And that is probably one of the easiest parenting mistakes to correct. Bring them out to play. Do not let our children disappear from the outdoors.