I have strong sense memories of making cool, slippery mud pies in the lilac-laden air of my sunny yard when I was a kid. So, when I was grown and had kids of my own, it only felt natural to let them have the same experiences.
But, MAN, I suffered the opinions of lots of people who disagreed with me. I even lost a friend over it. (Wow. REALLY?)
Once again, science has found evidence that backs up those instincts we have as mothers. Turns out, getting dirty is an important part of growing up healthy.
Here are three big reasons why you want dirty kids...
1 - Dirt Makes Kids Happy
Scientists have identified a strain of bacterium found in soil, called Mycobacterium vaccae, which has been found to trigger the release of seratonin - the neurotransmitter that elevates mood and decreases anxiety.
2 - Dirt Makes Kids Smart
Turns out, that very same bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, has been shown to increase intelligence. In lab experiments, mice that had been exposed to the bacteria were able to run mazes at twice the rate of control subjects.
3 - Dirt Makes Kids Healthy
Scientists have recently developed the “hygiene hypothesis” which posits that our overly sanitized culture is actually preventing us from developing healthy immune systems. We need some exposure to germs and bacteria in order to build a resistance to them. Studies have shown that early exposure to the microbes found in dirt significantly lowers allergy and asthma rates among kids.
If you live in a place where it's not so easy to just toss your kids out into the backyard, don't worry! Seek out the green spaces nearby and meet some friends there for some good, dirty fun!
P.S. - Interested in learning more? You might want to read, Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World.
P.P.S - I made the very first Adventure Bags for my own kids and filled them with wonderful adventuring tools like rope, compasses and magnifying glasses so they'd have everything they'd need for fun outdoor adventuring and GETTING DIRTY!