Kids are smart—some of the most imaginative animals on the planet. Give them a good environment, healthy food, and peaceful rest, and their potential expands. When given the space, kids will share their state of affairs in their own words, emotion, and expression. This is where I have learned to meet kids. Where. They. Are. Our behaviors as older adults are not how many kids interact in today's world. Meet them where they are. Acknowledge their place, preferences, and choices as sentient, bright creatures. From there, the path is easier to share and with mutual interest.
Most kids readily identify with their PHYSICAL, MENTAL, and EMOTIONAL selves. They know when they are tired, when their brains are done, and when raw emotions are the only way to express their feelings. And like plenty of adults, they are learning as they go.
Let's get kids in touch with their PHYSICAL bodies—the color, texture, and shapes. Getting kids outdoors will benefit their lives regardless of their physical shape or condition. The outdoors doesn't judge or compare and delivers proven physical benefits every time. Good PHYSICAL health is the foundation of good MENTAL and EMOTIONAL health.
Biologically speaking, kids are on a roller coaster of MENTAL growth and change. And in many cases, the hormones and chemicals in a kid's body are being produced at un-even and sometimes overwhelming rates. These kids can often grasp deep science, math, and literature while living chemically and mentally unbalanced enough to take insane dares and risks. In social settings, kids are entirely aware of their mental, educational, and world experience status—self-conscious humans, like the rest of us. When we empower kids to be honest about themselves and their mental health and be attentive to their presence and concerns, we invite them into a secure and self-respecting future. While PHYSICAL health will lift you from your bed and move you across town, MENTAL health guides your decision-making, public interactions, and choices about handling stress.
Displays of EMOTIONAL health are often readily apparent in kids. Shouting, crying, sobbing, and all kinds of facial expressions leave no doubt. And again, as illogical as it may sometimes feel, meeting the kids in their space, walking a few steps with them, and breathing out the moment will respect the emotion and allow its course to run. And since kids are truly self-conscious, they are grateful for the room to be themselves. An intense time. And then it's gone. Like a vapor, as if it never happened.
Getting kids outdoors enhances all three of these life energies. Physical, mental, and emotional. In Cyclocross, each of these thresholds is crossed all the time. Get the kid on their bike, into the grass, and around the course—a dozen times. Physical. Confirm the kid can follow the course markers and is learning the sport's rules, terms, and language. Mental. And then invite the kid to practice those aspects until they are deep into the realm of breaking their own limits. Lap after lap, breath after breath, eventually, many kids experience emotional expressions. Out loud, in public, and with no regret.
When kids learn to embrace these three pillars of their foundation, they own them, experience them deeply, and apply them to the future they are building for themselves. Getting kids outdoors in any sport, environment, or setting will almost always challenge them. How can it not? The outdoors presents a risk, dare, and exploration. It takes physical strength to walk, climb and GO. Mental knowledge of maps and a compass is required to make it back safely, and once out in the open, human emotions flow freely. Kids are inspired, encouraged, and empowered by the very planet they were born to live on.
Let's get these kids outdoors!