Don't forget to get out as a family

By Ron Lazzer

Summer is coming to a close. The barbecues will be slowing down after Labour Day, the temperatures will be dropping, and the kids will be back in school. All in all, it's back to work, school and other responsibilities. I enjoyed the summer and spent as much time as possible outside. How about you? Did you enjoy the outdoors? What about your children?

Many authorities are sounding the alarm of too many children spending too much time inside with technology the main culprit. Video games, YouTube videos, and tablets are indirectly leading to illnesses like ADHD, obesity and asthma. There is even a term for this called Nature Deficit Disorder coined by author Richard Louv who wrote the book Last Child in the Woods. If you have children read this book. It will open your eyes to the damage being done by depriving them exposure to the natural world.

Why do we do this? Mostly because it's easy isn't it? Also because life is hectic; there isn't enough time so we look for an easy solution to keep our children entertained. I see it all the time. A family sitting down to dinner not saying much to each other with the kids watching their own tablet.

Want to know how to fix it? Here are a few ways that work:

Children learn by watching their parents. Telling your child to go outside and play isn't the same as going out and participating in an activity along side them. Play baseball with them, go for a walk together, or go cycling together as a family. The best way to raise a well-adjusted child is to do something together as a group, to strengthen the family bond and to have fun doing it.

Let children have unstructured playtime. This helps them explore the world and themselves. Playing in sports leagues is definitely a benefit to children but so is giving them the opportunity to start up their own game of baseball or soccer. Gathering their friends together and organizing a game are skills that will help them for the rest of their lives. Children who do this learn to create rules and follow them for the benefit of their group. This is much different than being given a set of rules set by others and asked to follow them.

Limit their time with electronics. Electronics are now so pervasive in our society that children get plenty of exposure at school and at home. Get them outside playing with their friends instead so they can learn the art and skill of communicating with others in person and developing relationships. When they grow up and enter the working world they will be much better off knowing how to deal with people than how to find the funniest cat video on Twitter and Instagram.

Encourage your children to spend more time outdoors and join them too. Spending time outdoors doesn't have to stop after Labour day. Get out there, have fun, and enjoy nature!

Ron Lazzer is the owner of Bellevue Landscaping. If you have any questions or comments please email them to: