Lack of outdoor activities causes behaviourial disorders in kids, warn experts

Vanisri Saravanan says unlike two decades ago, parents are now being overly protective.

SHAH ALAM: Blame behaviourial issues among children on the lack of outdoor activities, say two specialists.

Vanisri Saravanan, a founding member of the National Association of Learning Disabilities Malaysia, said her assessment of children and parents revealed children spent too much time on their electronic gadgets.

“Or their parents are overly protective of them, not allowing their children to do the thinking,” she told FMT.

One of the parents told her that playgrounds might be infected by sick children and she that she preferred her children to remain indoors.

“Another child behaved like a robot. He would only do things told to him,” she said, adding that she later found out that his parents did not allow him to be independent.

Vanisri said unlike two decades ago, parents were now being overly protective in order to give the best to their children. But, she said, this was turning out to be unhealthy.

“Children need lots of interaction and outdoor activities to stimulate their senses and activate their brains. They also need to do things independently and learn from them, too,” she said.

Dr Anan Dini, who often deals with children and families, said more children were being diagnosed with behaviorial issues and her assessment reveals most of the children spend too much time indoors.

A child taking part in a colouring activity at Globallink House.

“Kids don’t go outdoors as much as before. There’s not enough of stimulation, leading to behaviourial and developmental issues,” she said.

Anan said behaviorial issues included bouts of anger, slowness in learning and being overly active. “Those who are overly active need to run or play to be calm,” she said.

Learning disabilities among kids on the rise

Vanisri said out of the 400,000 disabled Malaysians registered with Putrajaya, 178,000 have learning disabilities.

However, Vanisri, who is also an autism specialist, said the number could be far higher as some parents refused to register their children with learning disabilities.

Slow learning, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were among conditions categorised as learning disabilities, she said.

Learning how to play the ukulele.

“These children usually have talents like a good pictography memory. They can sing or play musical instruments and are good at public speaking. If their talents are nurtured well, they can perform better than other children,” she added.

Vanisri, who also runs a preschool called Globallink House in Kota Kemuning, Selangor, said the problem was the delay in parents seeking professional help, making it harder for a child to lead a normal life in later years.

“Parents who seek help early, way before they are five years old, can almost recover with proper intervention,” she said, adding that some of them had gone into secondary schools without the need for special aid.

She said more awareness was needed on behaviorial and learning disabilities as early intervention could help a child nurture their talent and lead a normal life.