Ahhh Mother Nature. She brings out the best and sometimes the paranoia in us. It’s those unconscious fears and thoughts that have a real potential to shape my daughter’s perception about the wild outdoors (no pressure). So for her sake and mine, I’m working hard on embracing both butterfly and worm, dirt and flower. As my wonderful friend Bobby says, “It’s all part of it.”

Here are the things I’m trying not to say to my child when we are out in the wild together:

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1. I’m Scared

Whether a spider crawls near us, Barred Owl sounds off, or if it’s getting dark in the deep woods, I try to focus on what’s interesting or beautiful about the moment. Most kids aren’t inherently afraid of nature, in fact they are brave and push to explore the outer edges of any territory. Fear can be a healthy defense mechanism, but it’s about balance.

2. Don’t Get Dirty

When we are outside with the purpose of free play, I want my daughter Cora to feel the pure joy of being out in nature. But sometimes even though she’s in her old clothes, I hesitate for a second when she wants to jump in a puddle. Dirt is such a dirty word in our society, and I don’t want Cora to have a negative association with something as amazing and alive as the soil beneath her feet.

3. Ewww Gross!

I hear so many kids react to worms and other insects with revulsion. It’s sad because these creatures are so integral to our own well-being. I try hard to remain curious even in the most challenging cases (i.e. a leach on my bare leg). It’s not just with bugs – the cycle of life and death often gets the dreaded “Gross!” Cow pies, bones, vultures circling above – they’re all a part of it.

4.  I Hate (insert any type of weather here)

Confession, this is the hardest one for me. We live in Michigan, so you can imagine how cold it gets in the dead of winter. Still, I’m working on it. How flexible and accepting our children are to different weather patterns will largely impact their desire to be out in nature. I want Cora to tell me when she’s cold, but it’s important she enjoy herself out there for as long as she can. My husband and I even took a pledge not to complain about the weather for a whole month. Read about it here.

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5. Leave That Alone

I try not to use these words unless the kids are in imminent danger of getting hurt. If it’s a poisonous looking plant or animal, we can back up a bit and talk about it from a distance. If it’s not something I really want Cora to handle, I explain why and we move on.

Well, Green Monsters that’s my world what about yours? Is there anything you are consciously trying to say differently when you are outside with your kids? Let us know in the comment section!

Image source: saipal/flickr

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