Five Reasons to Take Your Kids on a Mental Health Hike

Now more than ever, children need the outdoors.

If you’re a parent, chances are you have reacted to this quarantine in stages, much like the stages of grief. At first you were probably excited about all the quality time you would have for your children, then you were probably disappointed that they would rather watch Youtube for 8 hours, than create a popsicle stick Nancy Pelosi from Pinterest. At some points you have probably questioned why you ever had kids in the first place, and at others, you may have asked yourself if you are actually raising a house full of sociopaths.

The Covid-19 lock down has been incredibly taxing on everyone, especially parents. However, we should take a moment to think about how it has affected our children, too.

Recently, after seeing my youngest watch a Youtube video about someone else going on a hike, I decided to take some action. I took my family on a hike to Pine Knob Loop, which is an awesome trail complete with some light bouldering, beautiful rivers, and a few waterfalls. It reminded me of how important it is to get your children outside, and remind them that there is life outside of our mobile devices.

I can honestly say that it was great for the mental health of my entire family, so here are five reasons you should take your kids on a mental health hike.

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Balance. In this day and age, it’s impossible to keep your kids from their devices. But spending too much time staring at a screen is bad for anyone. Teaching your kids the value of nature is very important, especially in times like these where it is much easier to just plunk them down in front of the TV.

Bonding. Doing something physical with your kids is a great way to bond. You will see strange rock formations, animals, or waterfalls that you will never forget.

Self-Esteem. Hiking provides a slew of different challenges, from climbing rocks to crossing rivers. Doing these things as a family creates a sense of camaraderie, but each family member must accomplish the obstacles on their own, which helps build self esteem.

Stress Relief. Your kids may not show it, but they are stressed. Being in nature has a natural calming effect on the mind. And if one or more of your kids is very responsive to it, you may have just introduced them to a lifelong hobby.

Disconnection. The great thing about many hiking spots is that they don’t have cell service. This forces your children to talk to you, which is awesome! Teaching your kids to purposefully disconnect from technology and live in the moment will have longstanding positive effects on your relationship, and their mental health.

Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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