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Posts Tagged ‘happy children’

Kids Who Spend More Time Outside Are Happier Adults, Science Says

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Sending the kids outside to play isn’t just a good way to get them out of the house, it’s also beneficial for their mental health. And as a new study from Aarhus University in Denmark shows, children who more spend more time in nature may be less likely to develop various psychiatric disorders as adults.

This scientific research essentially confirms what we’ve always known: Playing outdoors is good for kids’ overall happiness and development. But what this study also shows is having more “cumulative green space” while growing up is associated with a “lower risk of a wide spectrum of psychiatric disorders later in life.”

There are a number of other factors that affect mental health, including family history and genetic predispositions to certain conditions. And the point of this study isn’t to scare city dwellers—it’s to reinforce for the idea that “green space” is good for kids, and integrating natural environments into urban areas has proven benefits as well.

The fact is that kids just don’t spend as much time outside as we did growing up. One 2016 survey from U.K.’s National Trust showed that the average child spent just over four hours a week enjoying Mother Nature, compared to the 8.2 hours their parents logged when they were little. We can chalk it up to our busy schedules and the rise of technology, but that doesn’t change the fact that our kids aren’t getting much fresh air and sunshine.

Many parents are trying to change to this, though. Take Ginny and Jason Yurich, a Michigan mom and dad who started 1000 Hours Outside, an online community encouraging families to (you guessed it) aim to spend 1000 hours a year in the great outdoors.

The Yurichs, who have five children, say that an ideal world, children should be outside four to six hours a day. That’s a lot, we know, and the creators of 1000 Hours Outside are quick to say they’re not spending four to six hours outside every day. Instead, they “aim for 4-6 hours outside at least three to four times a week,” Ginny writes, explaining they do “a little more in the nicer months and a little less in the worse ones.”

There’s plenty of evidence that suggests unstructured outdoor play is key to a child’s development, and we’re of the mindset that every little bit counts. What the Yurichs are saying, though, is that when kids are able to spend longer periods of time outdoors, the benefits are even bigger.

“Children who are allowed this freedom of time outside get lost in nature,” Ginny explains. “They get lost in their imaginations and they get lost in wonder. And then they rapidly develop. There are many factors why but one reason is due to the rich sensory environment that nature always provides.”

Nature also provides the perfect place for kids and parents to be active and explore the world around them. It isn’t always possible to head outside and play, but when the weather’s right and you can carve out some time in the family’s schedule, it’s a wonderful, affordable way to engage those little ones and their developing minds.

 

This article was written by Rebecca Macatee from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Scientifically Proven Ways to Raise Happier Kids

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Most moms beat themselves up about the same “failures”: Too many chicken nuggets, not enough kale; zombifying our kids with screens because we just can’t even; not volunteering to be class mom because we may actually drop dead if we take on one more responsibility, etc. But what if we told you the keys to improved parenting have zero to do with those tired old guilt traps? Here, five research-backed secrets for upping your mom game.

Go to work

The New York Times cites evidence out of Harvard Business School that kids reap the benefits when moms work: “In a new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries, daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes.” Career-oriented mamas may also be doing their future daughter-in-laws a favor, as sons of working mothers are more likely to “spend more time on child care and housework” and look to marry women who work. Being a professional may also be a boon to your kids’ physical health. One study out of the Berlin Social Science Center found moms who work a typical full-time job optimize their offspring’s BMI. “Amongst school aged children (8-14 years) the risk [of obesity] decreased when a mother worked between 35 and 40 hours per week, compared to working shorter (1-24) or longer hours (41 or more) a week.”

Put them to bed ridiculously early

Parents who put their kids to sleep with the sun (or, in summer, well before it sets) not only have significantly more hours for Netflix; they also have children who thrive. “Research consistently shows that putting kids to bed early is beneficial for their physical, emotional, and cognitive development,” writes Melinda Wenner Moyer in Slate. One study she cites shows “Across all ages, a late bedtime and having a parent present when the child falls asleep had the strongest negative association with reported sleep patterns,” like trouble falling asleep and more night wakings. Sorry, Kourtney Kardashian. Research also demonstrated that children age three and up “without a consistent bedtime routine were reported to obtain less sleep.” A different study she cites found “toddlers with a bedtime before 9 p.m. slept 78 minutes more than those with a later bedtime.” 

Lock up your phone

Illinois State University family and consumer sciences professor Brandon McDaniel studies the connection between tech-obsessed parents and the resulting behavioral problems in their kids. This phenomenon even has a name: “Technoference.” Per the Chicago Tribune, results of McDaniel’s recent study of 170 U.S. parents “showed that the parents who reported problematic or addictive use of technology—checking phones often, feeling lost without them or turning to cellphones when they are lonely—also reported that their relationships with their children were being interrupted. The interruptions led to kids acting out, turning inward with feelings, or exhibiting aggressive behavior or crying spells.”

Sing to your kids

We know that babies recognize their parents’ voices in utero. But the benefits of singing to kids go well beyond bonding. A study out of the University of Montreal demonstrated that singing to babies keeps them calm twice as long as talking to them—good news for showtune-belting mamas everywhere (don’t judge ’til you hear my Eponine). Another study conducted by psychiatrists at Stanford University School of Medicine found that hearing their moms’ voices triggers pro-social responses in kids. Per this research, the strength of a child’s neurological response to hearing his mom’s voice actually “predicted that child’s social communication abilities.” Explained lead author, Dr. Daniel Abrams: “We know that hearing mother’s voice can be an important source of emotional comfort to children. Here, we’re showing the biological circuitry underlying that.” Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the UK’s Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, suggests singing lullabies and nursery rhymes to babies is “an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional well-being.” Other experts say it enhances their mathematical and scientific abilities. Bonus: Babies are just as into it whether you sound like Beyoncé or Countess Luann. 

Run around with them

Research from the University of Cambridge shows active mothers “appear to have active school-aged children, who are in turn more likely than their less active peers to have good health outcomes.” The science belies the assumption that all kids are natural exercisers. In fact, researchers “saw a direct, positive association between physical activity in children and their mothers—the more activity a mother did, the more active her child.” The upshot? Sweaty moms = healthy kids.

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.