WellBeing

Playing in the dirt

“Mummy. Henry and I like playing in the dirt.”

“Yes, sweetheart.

I know.” Sigh.

We’ve all heard the message from experts: our children do not get enough outside playtime. We knowingly nod our heads in agreement. But then what?

The recent Pokémon GO phenomenon is touted for getting screen-addicted kids outside. Youth participation in organised sport sits at between 60 and 70 per cent in Canada, the US and Australia alike. And still those persistent experts tell us we are not doing enough to get our children active and outside.

Kids have a bizarre fascination with dirt. Set them on a patch of manicured lawn and their childhood fantasy play will not manifest in nearly the same ways as when they are set free on a pile of sand or, worse yet, in a mud puddle.

When presented with access to dirt, mud or sand, children will play in it. We parents, meanwhile, stand aside, biting our fingernails in angst as we unwittingly espouse that most powerful parental message: “Have fun. But don’t

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