Man playing with little boy in backyard lawn. Father and son playing with water guns outdoors.

When did you last play outside?

If you’ve got kids and you’re struggling to get them outside to play, you’re not alone. The typical American child plays outside for 4 to 7 minutes per day while spending more than 7 hours per day in front of a screen.

Your child is missing a critical life skill when they don’t go outside and play. Playing also helps children get more stimulation and exercise. So how can you encourage your kids to play outside?

We’re here to help! Whether you’ve got toddlers, teens, or anywhere in between, here’s how to get your kids playing outside.

Enhancing the Outdoor Play Experience

You could start by including your children in outdoor activities and talking to them about the importance of fresh air and exercise. Allow your children to explore their environment and set up mud kitchens or outdoor art projects to enhance their outdoor experience.

When possible, create outdoor play areas that are close to home so your children can play outside independently. Allow your children to lead the activities and be creative with the exploration of the outdoors.

Engage with your children during outdoor play by playing sports together or joining water fights in the backyard. 

Introducing Positive Reinforcement

You can start by letting your children know how much fun it is when they play outside and how much better they feel after. Let them know that their friends will be joining them.

Make sure to use positive words and praise when they play outside. Put up rewards or incentives as positive reinforcement. Allowing them to have time outdoors with their friends in a safe area is key. Schedule trips to the park, backyard playground, or nature trails, and explain the benefits of playing outdoors.

Let your children know that outdoor play is a great way to stay physically active. Ultimately, making playing outside enjoyable and rewarding will result in them wanting to spend time outdoors.

Creating a Family Outdoor Culture

Encouraging children to play outside can be difficult in today’s digital world, but creating a positive family outdoor culture can help. Parents should lead by example and spend more time outdoors each day.

Offer up activities like bike rides, hikes, swimming, gardening, or even a picnic lunch in a local park. If nearby family or friends have outdoor spaces at their homes, invite them over for outdoor activities.

Connect with local outdoor groups to find fun, nearby outdoor places to explore, or engaging activities for your whole family. Make outdoor activities a priority for at least 30 minutes each day. You can browse these 8ft trampolines that will definitely be a big hit to all ages.

Finally, establish a few special, weekly, or monthly family outdoor celebrations, such as watching the sunset or a special dinner under the stars. With some creative and dedicated efforts, you can create an encouraging, family outdoor culture and help your children enjoy all the great benefits of playing outdoors.

Encourage Kids to Play Outside

Encouraging children to find joy in nature and the outdoors through activities such as gardening, bird watching, and playing in the yard will help them develop an appreciation for the environment and lead to healthy living. So challenge your children to play outside and explore, create, and learn with you as their guide.

Let’s make outdoor play part of our regular routine and enjoy the great outdoors together.