Why Do We Choose Wild?

As the years tick by we are noticing that the wild places, that we get to explore with our children is becoming less and less. More and more restrictions are being placed upon where children can play and how exactly they may play. There is a growing control in all natural areas as well as parks, age limits on playing in parks, entrance fees to natural areas, no picking up of nature, no walking off this path, no climbing these trees. Yes, we do acknowledge the environmental needs and the effects children have upon nature, however without this natural interaction that children are born with, drawn to and need to embrace – this need to be one, linked with the earth and the natural world around them – we are denying them the opportunity to connect with a part of who they are as humans.

Regarding the overall development of a child, when they are playing in nature, it can have several negative effects on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Without access to outdoor play, children may experience:

1. Reduced physical activity: Lack of outdoor play can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, which may contribute to health issues like obesity and poor physical development. Outdoor play uses muscles that are not used at any other time. No matter their age they crawl, jump, pull, stretch and twist their bodies in ways that no organised sports would ever require.

2. Impaired cognitive development: Nature play stimulates creativity, problem-solving skills, and cognitive development. Without exposure to nature, children may miss out on these important learning opportunities. Nature never provides the exact stick they require for their fort or the perfect rock to fit into a wall they are building. Instead playing in nature requires constant thinking, planning and problem solving.

3. Imagination growth: Nature has no labels, or direction or rules. It just is what it is a tree, a rock a leaf or a shrub. To the child playing amongst these they become whatever they need them to be. The world becomes pliable, all things become possible, dreams are created, hopes are set a-sail and all all places are reachable.

4. Emotional growth: As stated above nature has no set rules. Out in nature the child needs to choose to adopt moral law. They need to choose when to not hurt another, when to not break another’s creation and when to help and build together. Organised sports have rules governing these moments however free play our in nature requires the child do dig deep, into their rawest primal humanity to make the choices as to how to respond to others. This environment does not then only allow for those choices to be made but for them to feel the consequences of those choices.

5. Increased stress and anxiety: Nature has a calming effect on children’s mental health. Without nature play, children may experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, and attention difficulties. Green is said to have a calming effect on the brain. Simply by being out in nature the brain is calmed. The slow pace and quiet space does much to restore the soul and dismiss stress and anxiety.

6. Decreased connection to the environment: Playing in nature helps children develop a sense of appreciation for the environment and encourages sustainable behaviors. A child cannot learn to appreciate, love and care for something that they are not permitted to engage with.

Overall, denying children the opportunity to play in nature can have detrimental effects on their holistic development and well-being. Encouraging outdoor play and exploration is essential for children to thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally. With all this knowledge and there being fewer places for our children to embrace Being Wild, it is truly something that we, as parents need to choose to prioritise, plan for and make happen – if it is not possible for it to happen organically for our little people.

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