• Jacklyn Fernandez, RHN

Raising Kids Naturally: Go ahead, let them get dirty!


We have become obsessed with cleanliness. In fact, our cleanliness is making our children worried and stressed about even going outside, and all this worry and over-sterilization is making us even sicker!

At the moment, children’s environments are being over-cleaned, and they’re being taught that getting their hands, nails, and clothes dirty is a bad thing. They are growing up thinking they need to wash and sanitize their hands constantly, and that the proper way to be a decent member of society is by showering every day. What does this do to our bodies? All this cleanliness is making us “immune to our immune system.”

Richard Louv, author of the book Last Child in the Woods, says that people who spend too little time outdoors experience a range of behavioural problems, or “nature deficit disorder”. He explains that, “just as in nature, systems lacking in biodiversity are less resilient, whether they’re forests or microbial communities in our stomachs or skin. These less resilient systems are more subject to invasion by pathogens or invasive species.”

Our immune system needs to get used to being exposed to a wide range of organism, from a very young age. Now, we sterilize our counters, walls, bathrooms, pacifiers, pots and pans, and especially our hands on a regular basis, which are all contributors to our immune system being overly-sensitive to every single microbe. One little cold at school, and the whole class will contract it. Then, the whole family will get it.

Why is the whole family sick, if everyone has their own immune system? Stop blaming the child for the parents’ sickness.

Dr. David Suzuki recommends children spend a lot more time outdoors, climbing and playing on the grass – and yes, even mud – in order to build their immune system. And as we recommend, let your body’s natural oils develop and protect your skin, rather than wiping them clean with harsh chemicals every single day. Take your children and grandchildren outside, GO WITH THEM rather than letting them play electronics for hours on end. You’ll soon find the parent/child quality time increasing, and sniffles decreasing. •

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To read more parenting articles such as this super-helpful one, please visit our "Raising Kids Naturally" website: www.kidsnaturally.ca

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