Having a wild child with a passion for nature is fantastic! There are so many benefits to spending time outside, however with it comes an abundance of mud and dirt.
In an age where cleanliness is prioritised, our children have minimal chances to explore their innate love of dirt. As parents, most of us are familiar with the unique passion children have for dirt. They love it. They live for it! But should you embrace it? Absolutely! Why? Continue reading to find out!
Mud Is Good For The Soul!
There are few activities that are as grounding as getting bare hands and feet into the soil. Earthing, or grounding, as it is often called, has been scientifically shown to have numerous benefits for living beings.
When our bare skin makes contact with the Earth, the Earth’s negative electrons bond with the harmful free radicals in our bodies, neutralizing them and in return giving many benefits.
Earthing not only helps to lower anxiety and depression, giving a sense of calm and well-being, but it also heals the body by reducing blood pressure, inflammation and pain.
By simply embracing the dirt and letting your child spend as much time as they can in contact with the Earth, you are not only facilitating healing, but supporting their mental health and general well-being…. All for the small price of dirty hands and feet!
Messy Play Helps Development
Sadly, in this modern age, many families are bombarded with the temptation of flashy toys that require children to interact in a certain way. These toys often require little thought and whilst they provide entertainment, they also limit the capacity for imaginative play.
Dirt based play, however, comes with no instructions, no one way to play… It opens a whole host of possibilities for imaginative play and as a result, supports cognitive development. Recent studies have shown a strong link between outdoors play and increased critical analysis skill later in life, so not only will your little ones be healthier, but they will develop better cognitive skills to help them in the future!
Boosted Immune System
The first time Aria shoved a fistful of dirt into her mouth, I couldn’t help but grimmace slightly. Now the girls make dirt a regular part of their diet… There really is no stopping them and as long as there are no choking hazards, such as small stones, or any chemicals, then actually it can be quite beneficial.
By playing with dirt, children are exposed to new microbes that stimulate their immune systems. That does not mean that playing in the dirt will make your child ill. In fact it has the opposite effect by helping to create new antibodies that ward off future illness. Over sanitising or restricting outdoor play not only reduces exposure to these essential microbes, but may also mean your child develops a weaker immune system and could potentially develop allergies in the long run.
So next time your wild one stuffs a handful of mud into their mouth, or eats lunch without washing their hands, fear not, those additional extras will serve them well in the years to come!
Building A Bond With Nature
Aside from all of the many mental and physical benefits playing with dirt offers, perhaps the most important is that your children get to develop a bond with nature. Sure, going on walks and admiring the surroundings is a great way to build a bond, but nothing truly beats bare skin on soil!
By embracing the dirt and encouraging nature play, that bond will continue to strengthen over time and spending time outdoors will simply become everyday life. Since birth our girls have spent as much time playing outdoors as possible, they have developed such a strong affinity for nature and their bond with the natural world is clear to see.
In a world where too many children are brought up estranged from the outside world, this simple act of encouraging them to play in dirt will reconnect them and rebuild this essential relationship.
Whether it’s spending time gardening or out exploring the world, one of the best things you can do for your little ones is embrace the dirt! Learn to love it and the joy it brings them! Not only will it make them healthier and happier, but they will build a bond to serve them a lifetime.
I’m not saying you have to spend everyday with your child knee deep in dirt, unless that’s your thing, but even spending a short time everyday barefoot outside will do your children the world of good! Check out our tips for gardening with children to get started or our guide to exploring nature for babies and toddlers.