How Nature Benefits Our Children

Nature benefits are essential for healthy child development and yet more and more children are spending less and less time outdoors.

Nature benefits

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In his book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” in reference to some disturbing childhood trends that have arisen over the years as children spend less and less time outdoors. The cost of being alienated from nature has been linked to obesity, depression and ADD (attention deficit disorder). Conversely, we have seen the numerous benefits that nature offers:

Children who regularly experience nature play demonstrate significant improvements in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning ability, creativity and mental, psychological and emotional wellbeing. They are also healthier, happier, more resistant to stress and depression, they perform better in school and they have higher self-esteem.

Nature Benefits ADD/ADHD

There has been concern in recent times over the increasing incidence of ADD and the need for drug therapy to manage these children. The good news is that a growing body of research supports the use of nature immersion as a form of therapy for improving the symptoms of ADD/ADHD.

Nature Benefits from Pictures and Sounds

The power of nature extends beyond our physical immersion within it. Even looking at and listening to the sounds of nature can make a difference.

Gazing at nature makes you more productive:

People who saw the roof with the grassy, flowering meadow made significantly fewer omission errors, and they had more-consistent levels of attention overall and fewer momentary lapses. But among the group who saw the concrete roof, performance fell after the microbreak.

Listening to sounds of nature boosts mood and performance:

When listening to the natural sounds, the workers not only performed better on the task, but also reported feeling more positive about their environment than they did when listening to other sounds.

Nature benefits

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Nature Benefits Our Children

Yet despite the powerful effects of nature, children are spending more and more time indoors – to their detriment.

21% of today’s kids regularly play outside, compared with 71% of their parents. – The Guardian

According to The University of Essex:

Just five minutes of “green exercise” can produce rapid improvements in mental wellbeing and self-esteem, with the greatest benefits being experienced by children.

The American Medical Association published a study in 2005 demonstrating that free and unstructured outdoor play makes children smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier. Regular nature play enhances all the following qualities:

  • Cognitive: problem-solving skills, focus and self-discipline.
  • Social: cooperation, flexibility, and self-awareness.
  • Emotional: reduced aggression and increased happiness.

Stephen Moss, naturalist, broadcaster and author says:

“Nature is a tool to get children to experience not just the wider world, but themselves.” Climbing a tree is about “learning how to take responsibility for yourself, and how – crucially – to measure risk for yourself. Falling out of a tree is a very good lesson in risk and reward.”

Children need to get back outdoors – it is vital for their health and wellbeing.

Nature benefits

Image Source: Pinterest

See also: The Case for Nature – Research Support

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