What is your child’s typical day like? I bet it includes loads of activities that involve art, craft,sports and study. Have you ever considered mud? I find children, even the very young ones, are always fascinated by mud. But our current lifestyle can elicit responses like, “Eww, not the mud, honey. It’s dirty” or “There are germs in there, you don’t want them on your hands!”
As adults, we are averse to anything to do with mud because we are scared the child will pick up a bug that could make him unwell. We have rows of hand sanitizers, floor disinfectants, even washing powders that come with disinfecting properties!
We pass on this germ phobia to our kids too.That is our idea of a super clean and illness free home.I believed that too, until one day I let my daughter play in the mud and do anything she wanted to do except eating mud. Once I was sure she understood eating mud was not okay, she pent 2 hours on her own. And this is a child who will never play alone. She always needs a companion, if only just as an observer.
The result of these 2 hours of play was mud cakes, mud dolls, a cave, a castle, a tea table and well, a very very dirty, but happy child. That is when I decided to research about playing in mud and consulted my paediatrician too. Here’s what I came up with.
1. Studies have shown that mud contains some naturally occurring microbes that activate a neuron that produces serotonin – the happy chemical that fights depression and also helps in various bodily functions to operate at their best. That is why dirt makes children (and in some cases adults) happy.
2. Mud can be good for the immune system. In our over hygienic culture, we refuse to let our children come in contact with some micro organism that actually boost their immune system making them sturdier kids. Without enough exposure to these microbes, the body never learns to fight foreign bodies and protect itself. Children who are thus protected will actually fall sick more often when exposed to a foreign environment.
3. In our technology savvy environment, kids regularly face depression, attention disorders and obesity. Outdoor activity like mud playing encourages children to step out of their indoor mind frame and be more adventurous. It build a strong character and a friendly personality.
So the next time someone says,” Ewww not the mud!”, please respond with , “that is what