Let Your Child Be Wild: Bring Back the Magic of Outdoor Play

kid on a hike by a lake

I grew up on a mountain, in a development nestled deep in the woods of the Poconos.  Living in the woods, I spent an incredible amount of time outside. I climbed trees. I fell out of trees! I splashed through streams and puddles, brought home handfuls of salamanders after a rain storm and had wild adventures every day.  I even made friends with a bobcat, although that freaked my grandmother out something fierce when she found out! What can I say? I was a bit of a wild child, and the wild creatures loved me!

Fast-forward a quarter of a century to the first time my son climbed a tree. I almost keeled over! “Get down! You’ll fall! You’ll break your head! Danger, Jacob, Danger!!” The tree in question was barely taller than me!  What on earth was wrong with me? Could it be that parenting tamed the wild child right out of me? Worse, was I going to tame it right out of my son before he even had a chance to experience it for himself?



4 Simple Affirmations for Un-taming Your Inner Wild Child

The moment we become responsible for an itty-bitty life, something changes inside of us. We suddenly see dangers that we never saw before. Some of those dangers are real. Playing in traffic? Never a good idea. Petting a wild bobcat? Probably not a great idea either. Climbing a relatively low tree? Splashing in a puddle? Getting muddy? Not really all that dangerous.

I say it’s time to un-tame our inner wild child and let our kids get back to being kids! Let’s reclaim the magic and excitement of outdoor play. Since I know that’s more easily said than done, here are some affirmations to say to yourself every time you want to hold your child back from exploring.

  • There are no sharks in puddles. A puddle is just a small gathering of water. It’s not an ocean. It’s not a lake. It’s not even a kiddie pool.  The chances of drowning are incredibly slim, especially if you are watching. They will NOT catch pneumonia from having wet feet. Jumping in a puddle will get their clothes wet.  That’s about it. Yet they’ll have so much fun doing it!
  • Mud washes, memories last. My all-time favorite picture of my son is one of him splashing away in the mud. A friend said “wow, I can’t believe you let him do that, aren’t you worried about him getting those clothes dirty?” With 10,000 stain removers on the market, getting mud out of clothes isn’t an issue. The memories, however, never fade.
  • Bones heal, scars fade. No one wants their child to break a bone. I freak out about this constantly. The other day, I told my mom “I am always so worried that the school will call and say that Jake broke a bone on the playground.” Her response: “so, then he breaks a bone.” It doesn’t faze her. My brother broke like three during his childhood. He grew up to be a perfectly healthy, successful lawyer. Do your best to keep it from happening, but don’t live in fear of it. We have excellent orthopedic doctors these days.
  • They’re not going to starve. This one is for worriers like my mom! She tells me to let Jake be wild, climb trees and break bones, yet she freaks out if he eats dinner late. Go figure. Letting your kids play until the sun goes down once in a while isn’t going to completely ruin their good nutrition habits for life. Give them healthy snacks-like CLIF Kid Zbars, packed with a nutritious blend of complex carbs, fiber, and protein- to keep them going until they come in from their adventures. CLIF Kid has plenty of nutritious options with no artificial flavors, no high fructose corn syrup and no weird synthetic preservatives. Pack an “adventure bag” for your kids and set them free!
  • Childhood is fleeting. My son was born. I blinked. Now he’s turning 10 this year. It’s over before you know it.  Do you really want to let it pass by without ever seeing your child’s face as he stomps in the mud? Hear his victory cry as he tackles that tree in the backyard? Watch him swing on a rope swing or build a teepee out of giant sticks? The outdoors offer endless opportunities for amazing memories. Don’t let fear hold you back from making them.

The great outdoors holds so many treasures for kids and parents. Fresh air isn’t just good for your body, it’s great for your mind and spirit too! Some of the best memories are made outside. No one looks back on their childhood and says “wow, that day I spent playing Tetris was amazing!” I can’t tell you a single one of my highest scores on any of the video games I loved, but I can tell you that the highest tree I ever climbed was as tall as the second floor window of my house!

For the sake of your child’s future memories, un-tame your own inner wild child and reclaim the magic of playing outside. Trust me, it’s totally worth it!

How do you get over your fears and let your kids be more adventurous outdoors? Tell us in the comments!


Nicole Etolen of OurFamilyWorld has been writing for as long as she can remember. She started out with pen and paper, moved on to a standard typewriter, an electric typewriter, and finally to a computer in her early 20s. She’s also mom to an 8-year-old boy and a plethora of pets!

Image ©iStock.com/AshleyWiley

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