Can Outdoor Chores Curb Aggressive Behavior in Kids?
Can outdoor chores curb aggressive behavior in kids? This Washington Post article about why kids are getting more aggressive on the playground caught my eye recently. In the article, the author discusses a recent ban on tag at a New Hampshire school because it was simply getting too rough. As I approached the article, I thought for sure the conclusion that would be drawn was to “fingerpoint” to hyper-sensitive parents and the trend to protect children from all harm, even from the classic and seemingly innocent game of tag. I was surprised to learn the “culprit” was something I never considered.
Due to less time in active play these days, children are not developing the senses in their joints and muscles (proprioceptive sense) like they used to. In the past, it was more common for children to help with the outdoor chores. They would assist with raking leaves, shoveling the snow, and would even earn money by mowing lawns in their neighborhood. They’d also play for hours outside – moving heavy rocks to build a dam, scaling trees to new heights, and digging moats in the dirt. All of this “heavy work” helped children to develop a strong and healthy proprioceptive system.
According to the author, today’s children are struggling to self-regulate the force they use in everyday games because their senses aren’t quite working right. They haven’t had enough time doing outdoor chores. I love this – a developmental reason to have kids help with chores. Don’t get me wrong, there are many benefits to having children participate in household chores. But this is another great motivator for me to encourage these types of activities with my son who is always getting “corrected” for playing a little too rough. Here are a few outdoor chore ideas that I’ve collected.
Outdoor Chores for Kids
- Gardening: tilling soil, digging holes, harvesting fruits & vegetables (especially root vegetables), pulling weeds
- Taking out the trash and recycling
- Shoveling snow and raking leaves
- Sweeping the porch, deck, and driveway
- Stacking wood
- Washing the car – carrying water-filled bucket, pulling hose, scrubbing tires
- Push or pull items in wheelbarrow
- Watering plants – carrying filled water can and carefully pouring evenly over plants
- Carry groceries in from car
And for more good news … it also applies to indoor chores such as vacuuming, washing floors, loading and unloading washer/dryer, making beds, and more. I’m on this!