Could you use a few tips for getting your tween outside? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve got my very own test subject in the form of a 10-year old boy, aka The Big Explorer. You see, my once ever-faithful, nature-exploring sidekick has recently begun to show signs that things … well, they are a-changing.
Let me set the scene for you: A few weeks ago, my 10 year old and I discuss the idea of heading to the Griffith Observatory for a “star party,” an event that features several telescopes set up for public use. He’s a science guy who loves all things space, so it seems like a good fit. He assures me it sounds like fun.
Fast forward to the day of the event. Dad and I are discussing logistics – where to park, what time to leave, etc. Enter the 10 year old, curious to know what we’re talking about. When I remind him that we’re going to the Observatory that evening, he whines and says, “Why? I never said I wanted to do that. I don’t want to go.”
Mom (that’s me) fires back, “Fine then. We won’t go!,” storms off and proceeds to pout for several minutes in another room.
Tell me you can relate. Sometimes having a 10 year old, or “tween” as 10- to 12-year old kids are called these days, is seriously challenging.
I wasn’t happy with how this whole “star party” thing went down, so I started talking to some of my fellow moms of tweens and have since developed a strategy to ensure our outdoor plans aren’t similarly derailed in the future. For your benefit, here are five tips for getting your tween outside.
1. Keep it interesting.
There are plenty of places to explore here in Los Angeles. But which will be interesting to a 10 year old – and the rest of our family as well? I look for unique places, like hikes with fun things to see, beaches with tide pools, museums with special exhibits.
And while we adults enjoy returning to favorite places time and again, tweens may prefer the excitement of checking out new spots or trying new things, like riding a surrey instead of a bike!
2. Invite your tween to plan with you.
We usually spend one weekend morning exploring local nature here in Los Angeles. Lately, we’ve been hiking. Instead of picking trails on my own, I’ve started asking for The Big Explorer’s input. He’s more likely to want to come if he’s involved in the planning.
3. Focus on your tween’s interests.
My plan in the “star party” scenario was a good one: The Big Explorer loves all things space. Make sure your outdoor time involves activities your tween especially enjoys.
4. Bring friends.
When friends are involved, things just go a little smoother. Plus, friends become more important as kids get older, so including them in outdoor activities is one way you can support your maturing tween and those friendships.
5. Keep getting outside.
No matter your strategy, always respect your tween’s thoughts and emotions. They are very real. The trick is that at the same time, these feelings are fleeting – what’s expressed one minute can completely change the next. So don’t be afraid to stick with your plans and head outside in spite of some initial objections.
This is where I went wrong in the “star party” scenario above. Instead of stomping off in a parental huff, I could have simply stated that in spite of his disinterest, we’d still be going. The truth is, once he’s outside and doing something, he’s a content happy kiddo again. Nature has that effect.