In partnership with Suave Kids, I want to talk about kids and dirt. From the moment we start to spoon feed our kids we get into the habit of wiping that little chin after every bite. And when they try to feed themselves we clean their hands over and over during a meal. But, did you know that letting babies and toddlers smoosh around in mess helps them develop a larger vocabulary?
Most of us have great memories of playing outdoors, and yet the most common reason parents give for limiting outdoor play is… dirt! What could possibly be the problem? Let’s bust the myths:
- Dirt is unhealthy. Actually, the opposite is true! Research over the past ten years has shown that the germs our kids encounter outside are more helpful than harmful! Not only do they strengthen a child’s immune system, they also provide helpful, stabilizing microbes that can keep more dangerous germs in check when our kids encounter THOSE at school or by touching a door handle or TV remote at home.
- Dirt is boring. Kids have so many great organized activities and structured toys and games to play, won’t they just be bored if they’re sent outside with nothing to do? Maybe, for a minute. And then their imaginations will take over. Overcoming boredom builds creativity and resilience. Being bored never lasts – and parents don’t have to “fix” it!
- Dirt is… dirty! Oh boy, is it! It can lead to extra laundry and kids tracks by the front door, muddy handprints on a wall or a small, indoor avalanche when your child takes off her shoes. Don’t let that make you crazy though. Those are all great learning opportunities for your child. Three and four year olds can sponge off muddy handprints (with a dish towel to catch the drips). Five and six year olds can handle a broom or a dustpan, or both if they work as a team to sweep up. Seven and eight year olds are ready to mop. And eight and nine year olds can absolutely do the laundry!
Dirty kids leads straight to the bath. And those adventures from the day come tumbling out! Suave and I partnered earlier in the winter to talk about how to make sure that getting in to the tub is a highlight of your child’s day, because every adventure ends in clean! You can see from the picture that we love Suave’s products because they make it so easy for kids to “do it myself!”
Let kids get dirty – you’ll be glad you did!
If you want to join me in the mission to build responsible, respectful and resilient kids, be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to my YouTube channel where I address parenting challenges from teen dating to manners.
Do you have any important parenting related questions? Type your question into the box on AskDoctorG.com.