Modelling a ‘can do,’ ‘will try’ attitude for children in the outdoors — in all conditions!

It’s that time of year….buzz, buzz, whack!

It’s that time of year….buzz, buzz, whack! Having young children and being a nature nut, I sometimes propel us outside into the whine of pesky insects despite the protests of my family. I’ve always abided by the saying, ’there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.’ Do mosquitos count as weather? In this country, probably…!

What’s a parent to do when the backyard or trail looks inviting, kids need to get outdoors and the air is a-buzz? This is one area where we can take a cue from our children, and consider our own reactions. Is your child happy enough to play, swat, play, swat? When my 5 year old complains, I try my darnedest to help him stay positive and if he’s happy collecting rocks or digging, to keep my own annoyance in check.

A parent who sounds quite anxious about mosquitos is bound to affect their child’s attitude. It might seem trivial, but a child who has a bit of grit in this regard is likely to spend more time outdoors in a variety of seasons and weather conditions, rather than dashing indoors at the first bug they see. If parents are prone to complaining about mosquitos (and rain, and cold weather…) before you know it, inside starts to seem like the most appealing place for everyone!

A few ideas might help you get through mosquito season with the kids: aim to dress everyone in light long-sleeved shirts and lightweight pants, with socks and shoes. Add a little bug cream/spray of your choice. You can also purchase bug shirts or even head-nets. Of course, there are times when you might want to avoid the worst of it, like at sundown, in shaded areas or near creeks. If at a beach or park try to help your child see their options before dashing inside or back to the car. ‘I notice it’s a little breezier over here, and I bet the wind will keep the bugs down.’ Or ‘Let’s move over here into the sun, because it seems like the mosquitos are enjoying this shady area!’ Or, like the fellow in the picture here, find some giant leaves to become mosquito swatters!

For my son, I have found that learning about their place (yes, they do have one!) in the ecosystem helps him to be a bit more understanding. Did you know that mosquitos pollinate plants and drink nectar? And only the female mosquito bites? Some fish eat their larvae and they are food for dragonflies and bats. So when my son groans, ’I wish mosquitos just weren’t on the earth,’ I can sympathize that they are annoying, and then talk about the food chain and why on earth they do exist. Look out for those helpful dragonflies, coming to a backyard near you!

Creston Kids Outside is holding an AGM Thursday, June 28 at the Creston Library. AGM at 7:00 followed at 7:30 by a presentation and information session about the Kootenay Nature School Program.

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