Time spent outdoors can be limited during the winter months, but when it comes to mental health (for parents AND children) making the effort to achieve even a small dose of daily fresh air can pay dividends!
For children, outside spaces offer the opportunity of unstructured play, which has been shown to have a positive effect on behavioural skills (taking turns, sharing etc) while the interactions that come with inventing and playing out games can help improve communication.
Such are the wider benefits of outside time, that children who play outdoors regularly have been found to have better perceptual abilities and attention spans, and be more self-directed and curious than those who spend more time indoors.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that fresh air and exposure to daylight naturally helps reduce stress levels and boosts mood and immunity.
Altogether, the message this Children’s Mental Health week is therefore not to underestimate the benefits of getting outside, even if only for a short walk. Since many of the benefits mentioned above can also be extended to adults, braving the cold and the muddy puddles is something that - however unappealing - is almost always worth the effort.