Encouraging kids to play outside doesn’t have to be hard, but it can be tough! As kids get older, they tend to spend more time indoors, either on the computer or playing video games.

This can negatively impact their health and well-being, but luckily there are ways you can encourage kids to spend more time outdoors, including many that will also work on encouraging them to exercise regularly in general!

Here are 9 ways you can encourage kids to play outside regularly!

1) Teach them about the importance of play

The benefits of play are immense. When we’re adults, we recognize play as a necessary component of life, but we often don’t realize how important it is for children. As parents, it’s your job to help kids know how to get out there and enjoy themselves. Here are some ways you can encourage your little ones to play outside

2) Always offer a positive attitude

If you’re going to encourage your kids to play outside, they need to know that you mean it. They’ll know if you say something just because it’s what their teacher asked. (Kids know more than we think.) Let them know that getting outside and exercising is important to you, and make sure they see your attitude in action.

For example, take them for walks around your neighborhood or at a nearby park; ride bikes or scooters together, throw a ball in your backyard or set up a volleyball net in your driveway. Do whatever it takes for you and your kids to get moving. Spending time outdoors does wonder for family relationships — and not just because of how much fun it is!

3) Get outside with them

The first thing you can do to get your kids outside is… go outside with them. Instead of keeping them inside, try spending some time playing alongside your kids in their favorite outdoor location.

You might be surprised at how much fun you’ll have and, who knows, maybe even make a new friend or two along the way. Invite other families over: Maybe your son would love to have more friends over for an afternoon of tree-house building and exploration.

4) Set up a fun activity

Make sure your backyard or front yard is stocked with a variety of fun outdoor games, toys, and activities so your kids will be excited to go outside. After all, you can’t force kids to do anything they don’t want to do—including playing outside.

Make it fun, make it enjoyable and most importantly, make it theirs. Here are some ideas to get you started

5) Have snacks ready

It’s natural for kids to be reluctant to take part in outdoor activities when they’re not prepared. Make sure there are plenty of snacks on hand so they won’t get hungry and turn to candy or junk food as a source of energy.

A platter of fresh fruit or cut-up veggies with dip can be a great way to keep your children occupied outside! No matter what snacks you choose, make sure you provide enough—hungry kids are likely to head back inside sooner than expected.

6) Let them pick their activities

You might really want your kids to play soccer or swim laps at their summer camp, but let them have a say in what they do.

For example, if they love playing basketball with their friends, try that. As long as they’re having fun and staying active outside (during daylight hours, of course), you can be sure they’re getting something good out of it. No one wants to play soccer for four months straight when all she wanted was to swim laps in a pool for four months straight.

7) Take photos of your kids playing outside together

This activity may be more fun for you than your kids, but that’s okay—the point is to encourage them to get out and have fun in nature. And yes, getting outside does not have to mean hiking through a forest or climbing a mountain.

Some of my favorite childhood memories were built around visits to local parks where I played kickball with friends and rode bikes around a grassy field (not necessarily in that order).

These days, many schools are integrating movement breaks into their lunch periods and recesses—but even if yours doesn’t already do it, there are lots of ways you can get your kids moving outside on their own.

8) Ask family members to join in on the fun

More than any other factor, it’s our closest friends and family who keep us active—or not. If your kids are outside playing all summer long, chances are you’re a little more active yourself. (This is why it’s important to teach your children healthy exercise habits at an early age.)

Getting out of doors also allows us to expose ourselves to as much natural light as possible, which helps regulate our circadian rhythms.

Exposure to daylight may also help stave off seasonal affective disorder (SAD), an affliction that affects many people living in northern latitudes during the late fall and winter months. As you get older, SAD can cause negative changes in brain chemistry and behavior; getting outside can literally help reverse some of these changes!

9) Make it easy by having supplies ready.

If you want your kids to start playing outside again, you’ll need to have materials readily available. A cool backpack filled with all kinds of outdoor games is a great place to start.

That way, they’ll always have something to do when they step out into their backyard or arrive at the park. And, if you plan ahead and pack some portable sports equipment like Frisbees and balls in there too, your kids will never be bored!

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