This post is by regular contributor Debi Huang of Go Explore Nature.
I’ve got a confession to make: Parenting my 5-year-old son is in a word, challenging. From the time he first walked, he earned the nickname “The Runner” in our family. He is full of energy. Seemingly boundless energy.
So much energy that taking him anywhere is, well, exhausting. To call him an active child seems like the understatement of the year.
I’m sure you know the type. He’s the one climbing to the top of the play structure at the park, then jumping off. Or running out the door and down the block while the rest of us are still getting our shoes on. And at a museum? Forget it! He’s taking off at the first sight of something fun and not looking back.
Before having a wild child of my own, I used to think the parents of kids like my son were to blame. You know – for not better controlling their children’s behavior. Now I know better.
My biggest challenge isn’t just keeping up with him. It’s learning to embrace his active spirit. To fight the constant urge to yell “stop” and “no.”
Which is where nature comes in handy. She offers up plenty of opportunity for active kids like mine to play and explore without too many restrictions.
Since I can’t be the only mom to have an active child, I thought some of you might like to know what types of outdoor activities are well suited to kids who love to run like the wind. Here goes.
Climb something. Active kids can’t always be kept at ground level. Encourage yours to climb a tree, rocks or small boulders, or the climbing wall at the park.
Splash in mud puddles. Even a tiny patch of dirt or grass can create the perfect spot for mud puddle play.
Run down (or up) a hill. Parks often come complete with a nice hill just perfect for a good run. Bring along a friend and have races back up the hill, too.
Chase something, like butterflies. They’re harder to catch than birds, which don’t deserve to be scared off anyway.
Play games on the trail. We love to play chase on a trail with a long, straight stretch. Follow-the-leader and treasure hunts are also lots of fun.
Embrace water play. Instead of fighting it, be prepared with a change of clothes and a towel. Let your child run through sprinklers, toss water balloons, shoot water sprayers, soak up sponges or jump in a splash fountain.
Seek out wide-open, wild spaces. I suppose it goes without saying that wide-open, wild spaces are perfect for little runners. Whether it’s a grassy area or a meadow, let your child at it. My son creates an imaginary loop for himself and simply runs ’til he drops.
How do you like to get outside with your active child?