Resilient Kids? Let Them Play Outdoor

woman-and-child-playing-in-snow_Photo by Victoria Borodinova
Photo by Victoria Borodinova

Life opens up opportunities to you, and you either take them or you stay afraid of taking them. – Jim Carrey

Why do schools keep children indoors during recreation when the temperature gets too cold? Why do we avoid going out with our children if it rains or a strong wind blows? It seems an obvious statement, but children today no longer play outdoors as they used to, especially when the weather conditions are harsh.

What kind of adult will create this kind of childhood experience? What kind of adult are we today?

We all, and perhaps mothers, in particular, tend to remove most of the challenges, risks and obstacles from our children’s lives in an attempt to prevent something terrible and painful from happening.

Let’s think about the time our children spend playing at home and the time they spend playing outside: as little kids, depending on our work needs, we take them to the park to play more often, but as soon as they get older we let them play at home, where the children find the fun in TV, computer or video games.

Children who play outdoors, especially in adverse weather conditions, are more optimistic, more active and more adaptable. Why? Because they face challenges and find ways to overcome them; it’s nothing special for them. That’s normal.

It used to be normal for children to be outdoors

Adverse weather creates risks, both real and perceived, and risk creates challenges and opportunities for growth. Risks have indeed real consequences that require us to be aware of ourselves, the others and the environment. However, this kind of risk is a rare opportunity for children nowadays.

We probably received this kind of education ourselves, I certainly did. I remember well that I couldn’t go out if it were raining and cold, but I loved to walk in the rain with an umbrella and jump over puddles. Today I realize that I carry the burden of these conditioning believes, but I also learned to play with my kids, and to explore, to make every manifestation of nature fun. I took them, when they were just babies, to the beach even though it was windy, I dressed them well and took them outside in the snow, and today I take them to see the stormy sea. I do it despite everyone telling me not to do it because it’s dangerous.

Amazing Things Happen Outside

cute-little-girl-playing-with-stones-on-log-on-shore_Photo by Tatiana Syrikova
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova

We cannot pass on our fears and anxieties to our children. All we have to do is dress appropriately and then go out, to play or to walk around exploring a new place. In this way, we can help our children grow adaptable, creative, positive, aware, and above all, resilient; elements they will need to face their future positively.

What Is Resilience?

The term resilience comes from the Latin resiliens and means “jump back, bounce”. In physics, it means the ability of a material to absorb a shock without breaking. This term is used in psychology and indicates an individual’s ability to face and overcome a traumatic event or period of difficulty.

A great way to raise resilient children is to tell them fairy tales. Fairy tales are all about resilience; all fairy tale characters find themselves going through dramatic situations and face, albeit with fear and weakness, what they have in front of them.

This is what we must do: strengthen our resistance, our courage, our humanity and pass them on to our children.

Resilience Fairy Tale

I have chosen to tell you this fairytale by Guido Gozzano because it is about the love for life. Sometimes love for the other requires a separation, like us from our children, and this distance, even if painful, makes us grow as a person. It also speaks of snow and cold, and so we can venture out with our children even in lousy weather to discover the magic of nature. I have simplified and freely translated the fairytale from the original version (which you can find here https://mammaoca.com/2019/04/17/nevina-e-fiordaprile-di-guido-gozzano/)

Nevina and Fiordaprile by Guido Gozzano

young-woman-in-snow_Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay

A princess called Nevina (= Little Snowie) lived with her father January.

Up there on the highest mountains, far from men, King January would prepare the snow; Nevina would model it and put it in a cornucopia, then, when the cornucopia was full, she would empty it according to her father’s command at the four points on the horizon. And the snow would spread over the world.

Nevina was as beautiful as a goddess, her hair was as bright as the North Star, her face and hands were brightening white, and her eyes were blue like glaciers.

Nevina was sad.

During the break, when Father January was asleep, Nevina leaned against the ice balustrades and stared at the distant horizon, dreaming.

One day, a wounded swallow, crossing the mountains to the Lands of the Sun, had fallen into her hands. Nevina had tried in vain to comfort it; in the shivers of agony, the swallow had deliriously sighed the sea, the flowers, the palm trees, the endless spring. And from that day on, Nevina dreamt of lands never seen before.

One night, while January was sleeping, she decided to leave. She passed cautiously over the flowing beard of January, left the ice and snow, and began to descend the mountain. She moved among the fir trees and the gnomes, who saw her passing, interrupted the dances, and asked her:

– Nevina! Where are you going?

– Nevina, dance with us!

– Nevina, do not leave us!

Even the Good Spirits tried to hold her, hugging her ankles, trying to imprison her light feet in ivy and fern branches.

Nevina smiled, deaf to the loving calls; took a little snow from the silver cornucopia, spread it around, and continued on the path, feeling bright, light and cheerful.

She came to the valley, on the main road.

The air was getting milder. A sense of breathlessness overwhelmed Nevina’s heart; to breathe, she removed some snow from the cornucopia, spread it around so that she could find strength and breath in the icy air.

She continued fast, travelled a long way, and at a crossroads she stopped, her eyes dazzled. An unknown space opened before her, a blue and endless space, like another sky lying on the ground, and waved at the edges by invisible hands. Nevina continued in amazement. The earth around her changed. Anemones, carnations, mimosas, violets, daffodils, hyacinths, jasmine were endless among the houses and trees.

Nevina turned her ecstatic eyes on things she had never seen before, and forgot to spread the snow; then the wheezing took her back, so she took the snow and formed a zone of white flakes and icy air around her that gave her breath back. The flowers, the olive trees, the palms looked with wonder at the diaphanous young girl who flew in a snow whirlwind and shivered at her passing.

A beautiful young man appeared before Nevina, staring at her with restless eyes, forbidding her to step:

– Who are you?

– I am Nevina. Daughter of January.

– Don’t you know, then, that this is not your father’s kingdom? I am Fiordaprile (=April Flower), and you are not allowed to advance on my lands. Go back to your glacier, for your sake and mine!

Nevina stared at the prince with such pleading and sweet eyes that Fiordaprile felt moved.

– Fiordaprile, let me advance! I’ll stay only a little while. I want to touch the flowers, I want to dip my fingers in that upside-down sky that you call the sea!

Fiordaprile looked at her smiling; and said yes:

– Let’s go, then. I’ll show you my kingdom.

They went on together, holding hands, staring each other in the eyes, and fell in love. But as Nevina was advancing, a grey area blurred the blue of the sky, a whirlwind of white flakes covered the beautiful gardens. They passed into a festive village; peasants danced under the blossoming almond trees. Nevina wanted Fiordaprile to make her dance: so they did, but people dispersed with a shudder, the music stopped, the air became frosty, and from the sky began to descend the icy petals of the snow that Nevina spread as she passed. The two of them had to flee among the peasants’ grievances. When they arrived not far away, they saw the village rejoicing again under the clear sky.

– Nevina, I want to marry you!

– Your subjects won’t want a frosty queen.

– It doesn’t matter. I will do it.

They advanced further, but suddenly Nevina stopped, covering herself with a more translucent pallor.

– Fiordaprile! Fiordaprile! …I’m out of snow!

And she tried with her fingers – in vain – the bottom of the cornucopia.

– Fiordaprile! …I feel like I’m dying! .. . Take me to the border…

Nevina would bend over; she’d fall apart. Fiordaprile tried to support her, took her in his arms, carried her running towards the valley.

– Nevina! Nevina!

Nevina did not answer. She became more and more diaphanous, and her face was as transparent as a bubble about to disappear.

– Nevina! Answer me!

Fiordaprile covered it with a silk cloak to defend her from the burning sun, continued running, arrived in the valley, to entrust her to the North Wind.

But when he lifted the cloak, Nevina was no longer there. Fiordaprile looked around, lost and trembling. Where was she? He raised his hands to his face in despair; then his gaze lit up. He saw Nevina on the other side of the valley, waving her hand outstretched in a smiling and sad farewell.

An old tutor of hers, the North Wind, pushed her along the snowy paths, towards the eternal ice, towards the inaccessible kingdom of her father January.

Everything you do is for the kids. Mothers do everything for their children.

Being afraid is a natural feeling, but the protagonists of fairy tales are always ready to start over. Why? Because they live following an unconditional love; because they consider existence itself magical and divine. The unexpected happens all the time, but it’s up to us to overcome it, and maybe we will find a sudden and unforeseen help where we wouldn’t have received it if we had been frightened and stuck in complaining and commiserating ourselves.

Then, let us overcome our fears, and accompany our children on the journey of life without depriving them of the dangers and risks, which teach us so much.

Now it’s your turn: abandon your fears, live life with a little magic and think about changing your existence, perhaps you could explore the digital landscape and launch your new career. Why not? There are plenty of opportunities to reinvent yourself so that you can finally have that time for adventures with your children while you still work and make your career in the background. Sign up HERE to get the Free Training and my motivational newsletters, which aim to unleash the positive energy and superpowers you already have inside you.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
https://mammaoca.com/2019/04/17/nevina-e-fiordaprile-di-guido-gozzano/
https://mammaoca.com/casa/

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