• Kait Towner, LMHC, RPT, CCPT, IMH-E

Pandemic Parenting: Transitioning Kids to Outdoor Play

Updated: May 26, 2021

Warmer weather means more opportunities to be outside for children and families! However,

parents may feel lost about how to have their children back away from technology in order to enjoy the great outdoors.

Why is this important?

Children that stay inside and engage in screens are more likely to be increasingly irritable, have an addictive relationship with their screens/devices, and have increased difficulties transitioning to different tasks. Children who have caregivers that set firm limits and boundaries in regards to screen time are more likely to be more emotionally regulated, have a healthy relationship with screens, and an overall easier time transitioning. In addition, many children that stay inside more frequently, particularly those diagnosed with ADHD, also have pent up energy. This unreleased energy can lead to the child experiencing emotional dysregulation on a consistent basis. Exerting energy by having your child play outside is an easy way to combat this emotional dysregulation, leading to a happier child and happier home!

Set Limits and Boundaries

The most helpful thing in transitioning kids from screen to outside is setting limits and boundaries in regards to screen consumption. I recommend limiting screen time for entertainment to 30 minutes a day during the school week and 2 hours a day on the weekends. Have your child turn off the device (or you may have to resort to turning off the device yourself!) when the screen time is up for the day. Parents and caregivers should be consistent in setting screen time limits. Consistent limits will communicate to children that you are true to your word and in turn make a transition to playing outside that much easier.

Model Limiting Screen Time

It is vital that parents model limiting screen time for their children. Children are consumers of their environment. If their environment consists of caregivers that are constantly on screens and not outside themselves, it will produce children who are constantly on screens and not outdoors. As a caregiver, take it upon yourself to limit your personal screen usage. You can do this by setting a timer for your personal screen time while you are with your child. If you do enjoy using screens as a form of entertainment, consider engaging in more screen time after your child goes to bed.

Model Being Outside

In the same vein of modeling screen time limits with your child, model playing outside as well! When your child is playing outside, enjoy the great outdoors yourself by playing with your child, gardening, walking, biking, or reading outside. When your child sees you enjoying nature, they are more likely to enjoy it themselves!

Connect to Nature as a Family

Strive to reconnect with nature and play as a family. Research with your child different adventures that you can go on together, be it a local hike, new playground, or bike trails. Make a plan to engage in the adventure together as a family. Reconnecting to nature as a family will increase your child’s desire to explore the great outdoors in addition to providing the opportunity for you to further strengthen your relationship with your child.

Want to learn more ways about how to support your child? Contact me today at (585) 206-1506 or

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