Study: Parents' perception of outdoor play

Life is full of adventure, especially when you’re a child experiencing things for the first time. However, our survey revealed that parents are more fearful than ever about the possible risks of good old-fashioned outdoor play.

We believe that skin is for living in and that bumps and grazes are all part of life’s little adventures.

To help give you the confidence to spend more time outside as a family, we have compiled this handy guide in collaboration with Child Behaviourist Lorraine Thomas, Adventurer Will Copestake and First Aider Anna Webb.

At Savlon, we want to champion the spirit of adventure in all children and help you to treat the inevitable bumps and scrapes along the way.

Introducing the Experts

How to become an outdoor role model for your child

As a parent, leading by example is the best way to encourage the behaviours you want your children to adopt. But that’s sometimes easier said than done, especially when it comes to finding time to enjoy the big outdoors as a family. Our experts share their tips on how to become your child’s outdoor adventure hero:

"The possibility of adventure is all around us and as adults, it’s our job to foster a sense of curiosity and wonder in children. Parents are often risk averse and get used to certain ways of doing things, we like to get from A to B as quickly as possible. But children are likely to be a bit more adventurous. They will often “dawdle,” taking time to touch a plant or stroke a cat, because they have a real sense of wanting to enjoy the moment and explore what’s around them. The outdoors is a great place to foster that sense of wonder and encourage children to appreciate their surroundings."

Lorraine Thomas Child Behaviourist

"I am a big believer in children having role models for outdoor play. The most effective role models for children are generally the people around them everyday – parents, friends and teachers. Surrounding children with anyone who encourages them to spend time outdoors is invaluable. So if you’re not very “outdoorsy” yourself, find people who are. There is a real sense of community among people who are passionate about nature and the outdoors. Once you tap into it, it’s hard not to become excited and passionate about it yourself!"

Will Copestake Adventurer

The power of little and often

The most fun can come in the smallest packages. If you’re overwhelmed at the prospect of taking on an adventure with your kids, break it down into smaller manageable chunks and see where that leads you…

"An adventure doesn’t have to be a big, planned activity. Why not schedule one day a week to do something different from your usual routine?

For example, try taking a new route home from school and even let your child lead the way. If it doesn’t go to plan, don’t worry! Experiences like this will set them up for when they are confronted by similar situations later in life and equip them to tackle the unexpected."

Lorraine Thomas Child Behaviourist

"If you struggle to find time to play outdoors, try starting small. You could dedicate just 15 minutes of your day.

Why not set your children mini challenges like finding as many different bugs as they can or picking autumn leaves for arts and crafts? Children tend to have short attention spans so small, focused chunks of time work well and might be just enough to prise them away from smart phones and tablets!"

Will Copestake Adventurer

How to be protective without being overbearing

It is natural to feel protective of your child but this doesn’t need to be restrictive. Our experts share their top tips for wrapping your kids up in waterproofs, instead of cotton wool…

"As children grow older and become teenagers, they are more likely to take risks. But as parents get older, they become increasingly risk averse.

So it’s important to balance these two opposing instincts. Being aware of this balancing act can help you to avoid being overprotective. Remind yourself that taking safe risks prepares your child for life. This can help you to be more relaxed at the prospect of bumps and scratches or the next time they pick up handfuls of dirt to look for bugs."

Lorraine Thomas Child Behaviourist

"All sorts of dangers and concerns are reported in the media, which might put parents off from encouraging outdoor play.

I believe this can negatively affect children’s understanding of risk. It’s so important for children to discover for themselves that a knife is sharp and can cut you, rather than just being told by an adult. Children very quickly bounce back from mishaps and heal well. It’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with getting a few cuts and bruises!

It’s better to teach a child why something is potentially dangerous by showing them how. By supervising them until you feel that they properly understand the risks, they will slowly learn about where the limits lie. Eventually, you should be able to trust your child with a bit more freedom."

Will Copestake Adventurer

First aid tips

Bumps and grazes are part of life’s little adventures as children discover their inner Astronaut or Racing Car Driver. But you may find the prospect of treating them overwhelming. Founder of the First Aid Brigade, Anna Webb, shares her top tips for keeping a cool head when your tots take a tumble…

"Keep in mind the three Ps The basic aims of first aid are to preserve life, prevent the situation from getting worse, and promote recovery.

Try and stay calm

It’s not always easy, particularly when it’s a family member that needs help. Taking a few big breaths before getting started can help you focus.

Note the time

A small tip but always try and clock the time that an incident occurs as it could be really important down the line, particularly if the casualty continues bleeding, has a seizure or falls unconscious.

Make sure you have the right supplies

Invest in a first aid kit with products that meet the needs of your family. Make sure you check the use-by dates from time to time.

Note down important details

Keep to hand a list of important names, numbers and information that you can reach for in an emergency. This might include your doctor’s name and telephone number, as well as any medications that family members take."


Anna Webb Founder of First Aid Brigade

First aid tips

"Bumps and cuts are part of growing up and shouldn’t make you fearful of embracing the outdoors.

It’s a parent’s job to nurture their child’s inner adventurer and to give them the tools to climb life’s mountain, whatever that might look like for them."

Lorraine Thomas Child Behaviourist

"I’ve definitely given myself a fair few cuts and bruises in my time.

You could say that this is down to luck but I think it largely comes from the fact that very early on, I learned about life’s little risks. I learned very quickly what would hurt or sting, what to avoid and what to be more careful with; there is real merit in learning about the risk-reward balance."

Will Copestake Adventurer

Managing stress

We live in a world that demands more from us than ever before. It’s been shown that spending time outdoors can be a great stress buster for parents and children. So next time you start to feel pressured by life’s challenges, why not try these top tips to return to calm...

"If you or your child are stressed, being present in the moment can help and if you can do that outside, even better.

At the end of a stressful day, head out into the garden or to the local park, lie on a blanket and look up at the sky. Bring yourself into the moment by checking in with all your senses.

Lorraine Thomas Child Behaviourist

Ask yourself or your child:

  • What can you smell?

  • What can you hear?

  • What does it feel like?

  • What can you see?

  • What can you touch?

You can do this exercise any time or anywhere but outdoors is a brilliant place to do it, even just for five minutes."


Cutting back on screen time without tantrums

Screens are now a daily part of life and although beneficial, technology does tend to keep children indoors. So how do you prise your children away from their screens while avoiding a meltdown?

“Children who spend long periods indoors are also likely to be spending more time looking at screens exposed to what can be a very pressurised online environment.

This can affect a child’s social skills because they lack the experience of building real connections with other children. Rather than saying, “You spend far too much time on your screen, we’re going to the park,” try to make them understand that you’re adding something to their life and not taking something away."

Lorraine Thomas Child Behaviourist

"If minimising screen time is a particular issue in your house, try making a rule that screen time can only happen after some time outside or free play – even if it’s just 15 minutes!

You’ll be amazed how much you get out of an experience if you decide to focus on just one thing for that time. You may even find that 15 minutes naturally starts to stretch to half an hour and then a full hour, and so on."

Will Copestake Adventurer