Why Kids (and Parents) Need to Spend More Time in Nature
Children now spend a lot of time indoors, frequently playing video games or watching YouTube. The amount of time spent in nature is either minimal or non-existent, and it’s causing concern among parents.
Don’t panic if you recognize this in your child. You are far from alone, but don’t give up. You’ll have a hard time bringing your child inside once they’ve discovered all of nature’s beauties. It will just take time and patience to get to this point.
From 1985 to 2013, a Danish study monitored almost 900,000 people in Denmark, taking into account their education, income, family history of mental illness, and how much green space they had growing up. They discovered, “children who grew up with the lowest amounts of green space had up to 55% increased risk of having a psychiatric disease irrespective of impacts of other known risk factors.”
If you don’t have a yard as part of your living space, don’t fret, because that’s not the point here. Regular trips to green spaces, such as parks, can have the same impact. And if this study wasn’t enough to convince you to take your child outside, consider the following benefits of unplugging and spending more time in nature.
Health and Fitness
More time spent in nature equates to more movement, which translates to healthier bodies. Spending time outside helps children maintain a healthy weight and improves their strength, balance, and speed. Furthermore, children who spend more time outside can get plenty of vitamin D from sunlight, which helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, depression, and fatigue.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety
We all need to get away from the city’s endless buzz every once in a while. A dose of nature has been proven in numerous studies to alleviate stress and depression in both adults and children. And make no mistake – our kids face plenty of stressors, too. For example, school exams are certainly stressful for kids of all ages, and you can help relieve exam stress by taking them to a park or hiking trail for a break.
Also, if your youngster isn’t used to being outside and spends too much time inside, they may develop anxiety. Anxiety episodes are triggered when a person leaves their comfort zone and lands in unfamiliar territory. Freely exploring nature nurtures a child’s curiosity and ultimately helps them build emotional and mental resilience.
Research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information also supports the concept of “forest bathing,” or soaking in the forest atmosphere. It has shown, forest environments help lower cortisol levels, pulse rate, and blood pressure, while also promoting healthier nerve activity when compared to city environments.
Teaching Children Responsibility and Environmental Awareness
Nature has a great deal to teach us. For example, when children plant a flower, they quickly learn if the plant is not watered, it will die. The same thing happens if they just pull the plant from the ground by its roots. This sense of responsibility for the plant causes children to think about and apply it to other aspects of their lives.
In that vein, we can teach our kids how to interact with animals in the wild. It’s critical they are aware of other living beings and how to treat them properly.
Early childhood sustainability education should include time spent in nature. This fosters an appreciation for the Earth and all of its inhabitants. To grow into eco-responsible adults who are passionate about environmental protection and preservation, children need to first develop a profound love for the environment. The only way to allow them to get completely comfortable with nature is to open the door and allow them to experience its wonders directly.
Improving Creativity and Imagination
Because outdoor settings allow children to walk freely, they are able to interact with many forms of nature, allowing them to ponder, branch out, and interpret things in their own unique way. This helps in the improvement and development of their imagination and creativity. It also enables kids to observe the world from a different perspective. They can take in the sights, smells, sounds, and sensations.
Children can learn by doing and experimenting with ideas when they interact with nature. Also, they will explore, analyze, and comprehend nature, which aids in developing analytical minds.
These are just a few of the advantages of spending time outdoors. The most important benefit, though, will be spending more quality time with your child. Playing with them allows you to reconnect with your inner kid and see the world through fresh eyes.
Perhaps you’ll recall how you used to spend your time as a kid. It will benefit you as much as it will benefit them. So, no matter how hectic your schedule may be, make an effort to spend more time outdoors as a family.