BUILDING RESILIENCE THROUGH PLAY IN NATURE (part 3)
In this final post exploring the theme of facilitating the growth of children’s resilience, we will focus on the key areas of building confidence, participation and self- agency, helping children to develop a positive outlook and encouraging a feeling of responsibility and wish to participate.
Building Confidence, Talents, Interests and Self Agency
Many children experience a sense of freedom when playing outdoors. They feel free to follow their own interests, to take the time they need to repeat and perfect skills or experiences and they often have the opportunity to encounter novel, positive challenges through outdoor play. The opportunity to repeat and practice without the pressure of time constraints or intrusive adult agenda can give a child the means to develop new skills, talents and interests. Children often play collaboratively when they are in outside spaces and through the support of friends a child may discover a new levelof confidence and motivation to try again. Adults can support a sense of self-agency by standing back and facilitating this kind of collaborative play and individual exploration. It gives children the message that ‘we believe you can solve this by yourself, but we are here if you need support or advice’.
Developing a Positive Outlook, Positive Values, Hope
One of the most frequently occurring themes that appears in resilience study is the theme of ‘hope’. If we consider the quote by Nietzsche, we can start to understand that having the ‘why’ to live for is the key to becoming resilient.
‘He who has a why to live for
can bear with almost any how’
Spending time in nature can calm and soothe the soul. It can also inspire and invigorate. Children who have the chance to be awe-inspired by natural beauty can be moved to discover the ‘why’ in their lives. Caring for nature and other people can be the first step towards developing life-long positive values.
Encouraging Responsibility and Participation
Many children develop a ‘learned helplessness’ through not being trusted to have a go, make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. Mistakes are often considered as a form of failure. Some parents and practitioners are also fearful of risk and children pick up the message that ‘you’re not able and competent’ from adult fear. To help children become resilient we need to encourage them to dare to face challenges and to view mistakes as learning opportunities.
Risk benefit analysis in outdoor settings is the most enabling approach to risk assessment. Children from an early age can be involved in this process, identifying why doing something or being somewhere is beneficial, what are the risks that we should watch out for, and how we can reduce the risk or impact of risk. Children in Nature Nurture take great delight in conducting risk assessments for their peers and figuring out safe ways to do things. That is an important responsibility that we can give to our children and through this trust they can thrive and grow.
None of us are resilient all the time, but everyone has the capacity to become more resilient.
Play in nature gives us the peace, time and stimulation to build our own resilience and to support the development of resilience in the children for whom we care.
More time for play in nature will help ensure that each of our children will become confident individuals with the bounce back they’ll need in life in the future.
For more information, please contact Terri Harrison.