Sometimes, you just don’t feel like going for a walk but being outside can be the best for your health and wellbeing.
We look after two foster boys (aged 15 and 12) one weekend a month. Last time I picked them up, they seemed very agitated and the younger one had been in trouble at school, playing up so much he had been suspended, only seven weeks into the new school year. His Carer told me what was going on, but he was denying everything and didn’t want to come to our home as he knew my partner would be disappointed and would come down heavily on his attitude.
After an hour of driving, I got the boys home and both talked loudly all the way back and the younger one had trouble sitting still. I encouraged them to help me get the dinner ready, preparing the dessert and making a lasagne from scratch. It gave them something to focus on. It was a beautiful day, so I decided the best thing to do was go to the beach for a walk. Both of them complained most of the drive to the beach, but I chose to ignore them. The first half of the walk was very slow; I had to do a lot of encouraging/blackmailing/cajoling (whatever you call it) to get the youngest one moving. He only wants to do things his way and at his own pace, in this case, 1 kilometre an hour (I normally walk around 5km an hour); it became a battle of wits. I managed to push the boys to where I wanted them to be, 3km from the car. We stopped for about half an hour to watch the wave boarders and then turned around and walked back.
On the way back, we took off our shoes and walked on the beach and in the water, and this is where I saw the transformation. The youngest boy transformed from a child that was fidgeting a lot, and looking for ways to cause trouble, to a young man who was happy to walk and talk with me. For the first time that walk, I felt l was connecting with him again; his energy levels seemed to be returning to something he could control.
What I learned from this walk:
- Just get started, do whatever you can to get moving and stop listening to the negative talk
- Don’t give kids the choice, choices can be overwhelming, especially for kids with ADHD
- Nature is powerful and great for changing energy levels for the better
- Walking 6km tires kids out, and they sleep so much better and are happy to go to bed earlier!
- Because his body had become calmer, the younger boy actually started telling the truth, and we found out what has really been going on in his school and home life
I am not a parent and this is not a lesson on what to do with your kids, but more of what I observed in dragging the young boys along with me, as I encouraged them to join me in doing something that I love that definitely helps settle and soothe me.
The older boy didn’t want to walk on the beach, after all he had his phone and seemed to be more connected to that, which I have thoughts about that I will save for another blog!