Your guide to safely exploring the outdoors with kids

Avoiding wild hazards—from poison ivy to venomous snakes—will help your children become confident outdoor explorers.

When a rabid fox made a surprise appearance at the U.S. Capitol in April, the great outdoors suddenly seemed a little less great. The fox bit at least nine people before it was captured, reminding everyone that encountering wildlife always comes with a bit of caution.

Fortunately, rabies isn’t a common danger—only one to three human cases are reported annually in the U.S. And the benefits of being outdoors far outweigh the risks, especially for kids. According to the Child Mind Institute, playing outdoors can build confidence, improve focus, reduce anxiety, and promote happier moods.

"When we think about kids and especially their mood, we know that a sense of building mastery over a skill or their environment is powerful in terms of keeping mood higher,” says Heather Bernstein, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “You can’t control how fast the wind is blowing or how fast the stream is moving.” By adapting to their outdoor environment or overcoming a challenge, kids can build that sense of mastery.

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