There is a common expression in which people say you should “get out of your comfort zone”. At 52 Brand New, we are trying new experiences all the time, but we don’t go out of our comfort zone. No, that would imply we are uncomfortable with the new things we are trying. We want to have fun and enjoy our experiences, not be uncomfortable. So, I like to say we are expanding our comfort zones. Every time we try a new activity, our comfort zone grows a bit. An experience that was once unfamiliar is now something we are comfortable doing. The larger a person’s comfort zone, the more confident and adventurous the person will feel.
So, here are a few great ways to expand your child’s comfort zone. Why not try one today?
1. Try a new food. Children’s menus are filled with chicken nuggets and french fries. Why not treat your child to something he has never tried before? It could be a dish from your heritage or something you may have read about in a book. Now that it is spring, so many colorful and tasty vegetables can be found in the supermarket. You could also look at pictures of recipes you find on Pinterest or in your favorite cookbook. You and your child might decide on something to cook together.
2. Sleep in a new place. You don’t have to stay at a 5 star hotel or travel out of state to sleep in a new place. Visit a family member and stay overnight. My children love sleepovers with their cousins. You can even sleep in a new place without leaving the house. My kids received sleeping bags for their birthdays this year and like to sleep in each other’s rooms for a night. Sleeping in a new place is more about changing routines than about where you actually go.
3. Befriend a creepy crawly. I teach my children that we may think snakes, insects, or spiders are ugly, but they are living creatures and should be respected. I’ve found that the more we learn about creepy crawlies, the less frightening they seem. This year we have touched bugs and snakes and are trying to lose our fear of them. If touching a tarantula is way too far outside your comfort zone, try raising a butterfly or just catching some backyard bugs in a jar to observe.
4. Go to a cultural event. It is human nature to stay with people who are similar to ourselves, but we can learn so much from everyone. Listening to music and stories from South America was one of my children’s favorite new experiences this year. Other events I look forward to taking my children to this year are an Indian dance show and an Italian food festival. You can find out what countries interest your children and look for cultural events centered around that country.
5. Break out of gender stereotypes. My daughter loves tea parties and princesses. My son loves baseball and Star Wars. They both seem to be very comfortable with activities that are typical for their own gender. But, my daughter once went to a Monster Truck show and loved it. Luke was practically dragged into Princesses on Ice, but once we were there, he enjoyed the show. Why not have a tea party with your son? Why not play hockey with your daughter? Chances are, if they are spending time with you, they will have fun no matter what you do.
6. Talk to a stranger. We are so careful to teach our children not to talk to strangers that many children become uncomfortable around any adult they meet. When your children are with you, be careful not to speak for them. The next time you are in a restaurant, let them tell the waiter what they would like to eat. Have them buy a trinket at the dollar store all on their own. Talking to strangers (under your supervision) can teach children manners and self-reliance.
7. Try an unfamiliar sport. Most kids love to be active, so trying a new sport can be lots of fun. Watch the Olympics as a family this summer and look for sports you’ve never tried. There are numerous possibilities and all involve exercise and spending time as a family. What could be better?
8. Get your feet off the ground. A fear of heights is one of the most common phobias among adults. Children seem to be less fearful of heights, so climbing and jumping off tall objects can be fun to them. Many indoor rock climbing facilities allow children as young as 5 to climb their walls. A cheaper alternative is letting your children climb a backyard tree or jump off a diving board.
9. Get dirty. I used to think that all kids like to get dirty. Boy, was I wrong. My daughter gets upset if she gets a stain on her clothing. My son doesn’t like the feel of finger paint or mud on his fingers. But when I let them paint like Jackson Pollock and splatter paint all over large pieces of paper, they had a blast. It doesn’t have to be a big project. Just find an activity that your kids will enjoy as they get messy. Bake mud pies, splash in puddles, finger paint, whatever you think will be novel to your children. If you don’t like messy activities, this will be an activity that helps you expand your comfort zone, too!
10. Be bored. Sometimes as parents we feel like we have to constantly entertain our children. However, I think we actually do them a disservice if we keep them entertained all day long. Children today don’t need more TV time, more computer time, or more after school activities. Children today just need time to play without any adult intervention at all. More imaginative play will take place in your home if you allow your children to become bored.
Related Posts: 5 Reasons to Try Something New With Your Child Today