Children don't need to go outside as much as we think

Aotearoa New Zealand has just last week embarked on a strict "Level 4" lockdown due to Covid-19. Children and young people can go pretty much nowhere unless they are getting exercise in their local area, a Covid test or medical services.  No school, no hanging out with friends, and playgrounds are closed.

If your child has reacted to these restrictions by wanting to stay inside all the time, don't worry.  We all know the benefits of being outside, in nature, for our mental health.  But for some children, outside can seem quite scary right now.  It's uncontained and unpredictable compared to inside their homes, bedrooms and beds.  It's a natural human response to anxiety.

If you would like your child to go outside, don't sacrifice your relationship with them to make it happen.  The most important thing is that children and young people stay connected in relationship with each other where possible, and most importantly, with you.

So, either let them stay inside and "lean in to the lockdown", or you could try some of these things:

  • For young children, set up some inviting toys, bubbles, water play, tents, blankets, scavenger hunts
  • Go outside yourself and hang out there.  Many younger kids just want to be where you are
  • Suggest a walk with benefits (eg ice cream at the dairy)
  • For older children you can try and have a conversation about how going outside might help them feel better.
  • Link into technology- lend them a pedometer or smart watch to measure steps, try geocaching, lend them your phone to take some photos or follow your progress on Google Maps


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