It can be hard to get the kids off the couch, to unplug, and go outside. Especially if screens and video games are involved.
Heather Johnson shares some strategies to help your kids unplug and enjoy nature.
Help Your Child Connect with Nature
We know that it’s important to connect with nature. But what about our kids? How can we get them to unplug, step outside, and take advantage of the outer-world? It’s time that we face the reality of “Nature Deficit Disorder.”
Here are seven principles that will help your child connect with nature:
1. Build New Habits
Comment about the warmth of the sun and notice the beautiful mountains. Our society has built habit around being inside. Children need unstructured time outside. Allow them to play, get dirty, and enjoy the outer-world.
2. Teach What’s Happening to Nature
Explain what terms like global warming and extinction mean. Children hear all of the negative effects human have on the environment. Teach them about the beauty of nature. Focus on the positive.
3. Don’t Be Afraid
Good parents protect their children. As moms, we don’t want our children to fall out of a tree or scrape their knees. We have to learn to let our children experience the outer-world and all of its beauty. Don’t be afraid of kids coming inside with a little extra dirt to clean off or laundry to do.
4. Find a “Sit Spot”
Find a place around your home to just sit. Sit at different times of day and in different seasons. Children will start to recognize patters of nature. It places them in a spot where they can find solace, they can rejuvenate, and they can reconnect.
5. Connect Middle School Students to the Community
Encourage them to stray on home. It’s healthy for children to get on their bike and go to the store or grab a friend and go on a walk. Try connecting your older children to the source of their food such as picking a piece of fruit off of a tree or growing a garden. Heather suggests sending children outside to take pictures. They will enjoy the activity as well as appreciate the beauty of the outer-world. Teenagers are at an age where they desperately need to experience the benefits of nature.
6. Plant a Garden or Grow a Flower
Qualities such as hard work, patience, and gratitude come from planting a garden or flower. Make this a priority in your home and your children will see how much you value nature.
7. Stop Thinking We Need All the Answers
There is a lot of science surrounding nature. Your children will ask you why the leaves change color or how grass grows. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t have the answer. When we answer those questions, we are killing our children’s sense of wonder. Children don’t need to have their questions answered, they need to ask those questions in the first place.
Heather Johnson M.S. completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Brigham Young University, and has been an adjunct faculty member for the last 15 years. She teaches students the principles behind successful families and the importance of families spending time together.
With a desire to help beyond the classroom, Heather is a Marriage and Relationship Coach where she helps couples and families learn to love, forgive, and communicate. She loves watching individuals find confidence and joy in marriage and parenting.
Heather’s favorite place to be is next to her husband. Married for 16 years, her greatest joy comes from being a wife, and mother to their 6 children (ages 15 to 2 years). Marriage and motherhood have been her most humbling adventure.
To contact Heather for counseling, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.familyvolley.blogspot.com