Science has proven that a holiday makes a child happier and smarter. So pack your bags and go on a family vacation, to introduce your child to fascinating experiences and to foster strong bonds
By Amruta Deshpande
Our best childhood memories often involve the adventures we had during our vacations. That moment when we were frozen in time at the sight of a majestic historical building or the glimpse of the azure blue sky against breathtaking snow-capped mountains － these are reminiscences of family holidays stay with us forever and bring a sense of joy and togetherness.
So instead of gifting a new toy or video game to your child during the holidays, take them on a family vacation. Studies have shown that a vacation can be beneficial for the overall development of your child. They come back happy and enriched, having experienced a beautiful world outside their home and exposed to different cultures and ways of living.
1. Smarter generation: Children are always up for new adventures and vacations are the best way to nurture their desire to learn new things. It has been proven that more than theoretical knowledge, practical experience is a better way of learning new things. In an article, The Science Behind How Holidays Make Your Child Happier – and Smarter, which appeared in The Telegraph, Dr Margot Sunderland, child psychotherapist says that a family vacation provides the child with a rich learning environment with new experiences in social, physical and sensory interaction. “The enriched environment triggers the brain fertilizers which are associated with higher IQ in kids and exploring a new place together, helps in making your child smarter.” Family vacations help in a child’s brain development, which in turn improves concentration and is beneficial to physical and mental health. Studies have shown that children who travel get higher grades in school than those who don’t.
2. The family that stays together: Parents and children are so busy these days that often they go without having a decent conversation for days together. It is only when a family goes on a holiday that they get uninterrupted time to interact -- walking on the grass together, exploring new places, going for a swim in the sea, having a laugh at a joke over lunch -- these are things families enjoy doing when they are together during vacations. This kind of relaxed time that parents share with children, creates everlasting bonds.
3. Stressbuster: Professor Jaak Panksepp, a leading neuroscientist at Washington State University who discovered the two brain systems -- the PLAY systems and the SEEKING systems, explains that holiday experiences activate these systems in your brain and your children’s brains and they trigger well-being neurochemicals including opioids, oxytocin and dopamine. Walking amidst verdant environs can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and stress. So a good vacation can drain all the stress and leave a happy feeling behind. Studies have also proven that 20 minutes in nature, can improve concentration and attention of a child immensely.
4. Bring out the inner explorer: With a new place to explore, a family vacation can become a fun adventure for the child. Going to a different place increases the curiosity in kids. There’s a vast canvas to absorb from, not just for children but also for adults. Right from flora, fauna to culture, people, relationships, architecture, history, there is so much to see and experience. They come to know that there is a world apart from theirs, which is beautiful and exciting. It also shows them that there are people and places very different from there and how everybody lives in harmony.
5. Happiness all around: According to a research conducted by the Family Holiday Association in the United Kingdom, 49 per cent of those surveyed said that their happiest memory was of their family vacation. The study showed that one-third of the people still clearly remembered their vacations. The quarter of those people said that they remembered these happy memories to get through the difficult times. John McDonald, Director of the Family Holiday Association, told the Huffington Post, “Using these memories as an anchor to take us back to more cheerful moments, we're often able to approach problems with a fresh sense of perspective."
6. More important than materialistic gifts: We all cherish our relationships and these are essential for our well-being and the well-being of our children. That is why we often give gifts to our children to strengthen our bond with them. But is it only toys and other material gifts that make a lasting impression? Obviously not. A research published in the Journal of Consumer Research states that “experiential gifts produce greater improvements in relationship strength than material gifts.” Instead of gifting toys to the little ones, planning a special getaway would keep children engaged for a longer time.
7. Improve social skills: Every place provides a rich opportunity to learn about the culture, people, their lifestyle, their food. Going on a vacation, children get to see different people, languages, food and living habits. It is parents who educate the children about these new places, but the children can also learn by interacting and exploring with the locals. This increases their confidence and also improves their social and interpersonal skills.
8. Helps children to open up: Vacations are laid-back times and provide the best opportunity to study the mood of the child. According to the 2017 Family Survey conducted by Expedia, an online travel company, 97 per cent Indian teens felt that family vacations bring them close to their siblings, while 69 per cent said their favourite memories occurred on family vacations. It could also be because Indian parents are more relaxed and let go of some of the rules and chores while on holiday (63 per cent). Since children are more likely to open up and talk about their joys and fears, parents can use the opportunity to indulge in light-hearted conversations with them and informally discuss the same.
Be it a one day trip or a big vacation, initiating these trips and going is important. Going on vacations refreshes the mind and rejuvenates it. But along with that it also refreshes and rejuvenates the relationships. It gives your child an opportunity to explore and grasp new avenues. So take your child and go on an adventure, create new memories.
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