Outside is Bad: Unthinking The CROOD perspective


Image Credit: The CROODS, art direction by Paul Duncan and Dominique Louise

Dispatch on BETTER BRAINS by Adria Williams, mommy blogger for Bodiesinspace.com

There’s so much talk about kids getting outside today. The “experts” have answered my question over and over.  But I took no true look at the issue until The Croods and Katarina!

Have you seen “The CROODS”? A must see family movie for this spring! Reflecting back on Father Crood’s insistence “Outside is BAD!,”  I am  reminded that outside takes time away from my all-too-busy life. And frankly, my family had become like “The CROODS”.

And Katarina?  Well that’s the name my daughter has named for her self. She prefers this name to her birth name, and for this story we’ll settle with Katarina!


When I was a kid you had to drag me in the house. The streetlights were our queue that time outside was over and it was time to sync back into life INSIDE, a space filled with parents! I can still here the voices,

"Did you do your chores?"

"Did you clean your room?"

"Did you feed the fish?" (I never got that dog!)

Did you, Did you, Did you and then with dinner time, the litany of commands followed:

"Wash your hands"

"Chew with your mouth closed."

The list went on. But at least in my house, “Did you have fun outside?” was never the question despite the fact I ALWAYS had fun outside! Based on the flowing rivers of stories I had to share, it was clear I had fun going outside.  Not going outside was a punishment and torture!         

So back to Little Miss Katarina.   “I don’t want to go outside, it’s boring. I’m going to miss my FAVORITE show!” This proceeded by crying and an all out temper tantrum, unlike I’d never seen before! What was making her behave this way? And what could I do about it?

imageThe Balance Between Outside & Fun-OUTSIDE!

Simply put, INSIDE had become more interesting for tech savvy kids these days.  They have video games, TV and a room full of STUFF!  (Yes parents, we are responsible for buying that stuff!)  At the onset of this DECADE OF STUFF, I too found myself trapped inside.  Being the mom who refuses to have cable, who chooses to watch shows on HULU or Netflix and who feels utterly free and creative when it comes to making up stories and fun for the kids, I was determined to get to the bottom of this anxiety around OUTSIDE!

My solution?   “Outside vs. Inside Experiences 4 Parents & Kids”

First I told my children the TV, the video games and the Internet are not going to cry, be mad or miss you when you go outside.  In fact – they don’t grow, they can’t run and they surely won’t throw a temper tantrum. Slightly apprehensive to bend and LET GO, they agreed that STUFF wasn’t as important as experiences they could create outside.
(OK, I admit it, Katarina’s ‘inside addiction’ was hard to break.)

Next I told them “Mom” would go outside with them and teach them how to have fun OUTSIDE. I talked to them about how going outside helps them escape “The Parents” and all of their “Did You’s.”  Here’s the catch: Today Mommy wasn’t’ going to be a parent she’s going to be an explorer, a pirate, a playmate or a movie-maker.

imageInventio!Brains Play OUTSIDE!  William, Sean & Amaya aka Katarina

The games we play:
  Beware outside can get so fun you won’t want to go inside and be a grown up!

o   I Spy:  This is was the first of our outside games. You simply go out side and see what you can spy your senses. What do you see, smell & hear? You can play this game anywhere. Try doing it at different times of the day. (Remember our ancient brains and memory are trained to distinguish between sunset and sunrise.)  Your children’s responses will make you smile and spending time together is accomplished on several fronts!

o   Bike and Park:  We have some great bike trails near our house. We bike to a local park and spend time playing games like I Spy.  Bring snacks and water! Or make it a picnic lunch day.

o   Movie Makers:  this takes technology outside and allows them to create their own videos… Pick a topic together or decide on a theme. What’s on my block? The Trees in my neighborhood? People We Meet Improvise on a script and film on site.  You’ll be surprised at the unimagined shots you’ll capture on film. You can choose to edit or plan to watch the footage after dinner! It’s a blast to BE THE SHOW! We’ll post our first movie next month.

Lastly, dear parents, be sure to create incentives! That may sound like a bribe to some but consider the growing number of conferences on games and gamification, with ample data revealing why our children choose inside vs outside games. It’s a simple formula:  INCENTIVE  + (doable) CHALLENGE = REWARD.  

Incentives that promise (and follow through on)  reward provide motivation.  Incentives can be any thing — from making healthy, yummy cupcakes when you come back to an hour of TV or the chance to play a video game with Mom.

So Parents, get inside your children’s world. Learn from them.  Let them inspire you.  After all, going outside is more than just for our kids.  It is for you too. This is a true Mommy/Daddy break time. Outside is good.

Discover what gaming experts and neuroscientists can tell us why gaming incentives work, go tohttp://www.ted.com/talk/tom_chatfield_7_ways_games_reward_the_brain.html



Adria Williams, mother of three, is our new “mommy blogger” bringing years of her rethinking and practicing child-raising from a positive psychology and more recently, from an inventio!brain point view.  Adria grew up in a family swarming with professional educators.

Posted on April 8th, 2013
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