8

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Nature Deficit Disorder?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 17, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Do any of you have any personal anecdotes, or from your children of Nature Deficit Disorder? Any positive changes by being outdoors more often? Any negative changes by moving, ...

There is a great website for children called the Children and Nature Network, with a superb resource page.

Luckily we have a great forest less then a kilometer away. Great for our family. We go for walks with the 3 and 1,5 year old. We walk, play and do movnat! I can only attest for positive changes!!

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 18, 2011
at 10:07 AM

Thank you very much! I'll have to look for Belgian alternatives for outdoor adventure camps...

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 18, 2011
at 10:04 AM

akd, I agree totally with the child leading. If we take our 1 and 3 year old sons in the forest, I am amazed how well they walk and run and jump and play. But if we, the parents take over, they very quickly want to be carried. thanks for the link.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on January 17, 2011
at 08:52 PM

hazel will keep me on my belly looking for worms, ants and snake skins all day if she could. winter is a nice respite for me since she isnt interested in the snow!

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 17, 2011
at 08:43 PM

OMG. 2 hours. I'd go into shock. You are amazing.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on January 17, 2011
at 08:37 PM

we all do! i think its one of the hardest things to do as a parent, but spending two hours on your belly in the dirt watching your kid watch ants is the most rewarding thing, too.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 17, 2011
at 08:30 PM

The patience with doing what my daughter wants is always hard for me. I come from such a background of the parents being in charge that I just want to direct, all the time. I've become a lot better at it, but I still need to improve.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 17, 2011
at 03:03 PM

seriously jealous of your kids... but then again, when I think back, my childhood was like that, its only after I moved out and started the lazy SAD diet that my health truly deteriorated.

8e75344356f4a455185ee52da0b90bf2

on January 17, 2011
at 01:38 PM

Ditto both. I played outside ALL day as a kid, only coming in to eat. Now I'm raising my five kids on our small farm where they can crash through the woods, build forts, eat dirt, and watch wildlife (and livestock). I'm convinced that that is part of why they are so effortlessly fit and active. Then again, they're fed a low carb, as-whole-as-possible food diet and we don't watch television AT ALL. Both contributing factors to health, IMHO. :)

209d2fc1f43df88348031c7c38077172

(693)

on January 17, 2011
at 01:29 PM

Ditto. I almost never used to play inside as a kid. Luckily my wife stays home with our 5 year old so they go outside to play every day.

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6 Answers

3
Medium avatar

on January 18, 2011
at 03:36 AM

My degree is in outdoor recreation. I've worked as a adventure instructor and backcountry guide for several years and will be headed overseas shortly to an awesome outdoor job. When I have to leave an awesome outdoor seasonal job to go back (temporarily) to an indoor retail job, I am literally miserable. I cry on the way home. I get anxious, nervous and never feel balanced or happy. I get depressed and gain weight. When I'm out there, I have little self doubt and feel strong and empowered. I feel connected to what is actually real, to life.

Most of my best earliest memories are outdoors. My parents were constantly taking me outside as a very young child. I learned to swim and climb trees really early and our vacations were always to national/state parks, all the way through high school. They really planted and then nurtured a love of the outdoors and also a stewardship of it. From the beginning I was very emotionally connected to nature (I cried when big old maple and oak trees were cut down in my neighborhood) and was a very opinionated conservationist as a teenager.

I believe there are two variables that account for the positive changes I see in the children I lead in the backcountry. First, the wilderness is usually beautiful and 100% authentic. Everything is real. Nature won't lie to you. Nature forces humans to move with it's cycles - we feel less in control but also more involved with this flow of energies (tides, seasons etc) We cannot change the forces around us, but we can change how we react to, and interact with, them.

The second variable is experiential learning. Experiential learning is learning through or from an experience. Experiential learning means putting people just outside of their comfort zone. It is here we grow as individuals. We learn to solve our own problems, endure discomfort, help others solve their problems, work as a group, lead others and follow others. All very important to being a successful and content human in society.

Play is also HUGE. I think its really important for kids to get to build forts and play pretend. Its even better done outside. My best memories are of building secret hideaways in the woods behind my house as a kid.

One great thing about my field is that even "inside" work is often taken outside. People I work with will often hold meetings, brainstorming sessions or planning time outdoors. Sometimes work needs to be done, but its such a beautiful day outside! Even though we've gotta get work done, at least we don't feel like we've entirely missed out on the pretty day. I've written lesson plans while sitting on a beach looking at the Indian Ocean! I think this is helpful to get a little extra vitamin D and also a little more time outdoors. Don't limit your family's time outside to just leisure or recreation. The sky above gives you "room to think" so to speak. The nice thing about doing say homework in the back yard is that it breaks that conventional connection. Homework is done at a desk, fitness in a gym, cooking in a kitchen etc.

Here are some resources: the association for experiential education on what experiential learning is: http://www.aee.org/about/whatIsEE

a list of accredited aae camps if you ever want to send your kids to outdoor adventure camp: http://www.aee.org/accreditation/programs (I used to work at High Rocks, on the list, all boys though. GREAT CAMP!!)

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 18, 2011
at 10:07 AM

Thank you very much! I'll have to look for Belgian alternatives for outdoor adventure camps...

3
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on January 17, 2011
at 01:12 PM

absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt. Mood, Energy, both tied directly to exposure to outdoors.

I used to play in the woods constantly as a kid. Nothing but fond memories. Now I get teased for being the Kid when we go outside, hanging from trees etc.

8e75344356f4a455185ee52da0b90bf2

on January 17, 2011
at 01:38 PM

Ditto both. I played outside ALL day as a kid, only coming in to eat. Now I'm raising my five kids on our small farm where they can crash through the woods, build forts, eat dirt, and watch wildlife (and livestock). I'm convinced that that is part of why they are so effortlessly fit and active. Then again, they're fed a low carb, as-whole-as-possible food diet and we don't watch television AT ALL. Both contributing factors to health, IMHO. :)

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 17, 2011
at 03:03 PM

seriously jealous of your kids... but then again, when I think back, my childhood was like that, its only after I moved out and started the lazy SAD diet that my health truly deteriorated.

209d2fc1f43df88348031c7c38077172

(693)

on January 17, 2011
at 01:29 PM

Ditto. I almost never used to play inside as a kid. Luckily my wife stays home with our 5 year old so they go outside to play every day.

2
Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on January 17, 2011
at 08:21 PM

hey! i actually have a good friend who works with children and nature network! she gave up a career as an attorney in vermont to work with them. they are a great org.

we are lucky to live in a pretty rural area with a ton of protected land around us, both forested and coastal. i ALWAYS feel like im not taking as much advantage of it as i should, no matter what. its a little tough now because of the age of our kids (1 and 3) and the weather (FREEZING) but we still try and get them out every day, even if its just for a few minutes. in summer we are out there dawn to dusk. one thing i LOVE to do with my three year old is to go on "hazel led hikes" where i follow her- we go at her pace, look at things she wants to look at, and call it quits only when she gives the word. its incredible for us both. its a test of patience for me that always pays off, and for her she can just explore and be in charge for once. youre going to laugh, but she actually sits on the potty and reads an "animal tracking" book with pictures of tracks and scat from appalachian mountain club. the preschool that we are sending her to takes kids out every day, no matter what the weather, and is a nature/science/arts based non-academic curriculum. they do incredible stuff.

when i was in practice (im a psychotherapist, but now stay home with the kiddos) i tried to incorporate some ecopsychology into my work with clients. i wouldnt say that it was always successful, but it was always interesting and fun.

http://www.ecopsychology.org

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on January 17, 2011
at 08:52 PM

hazel will keep me on my belly looking for worms, ants and snake skins all day if she could. winter is a nice respite for me since she isnt interested in the snow!

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 18, 2011
at 10:04 AM

akd, I agree totally with the child leading. If we take our 1 and 3 year old sons in the forest, I am amazed how well they walk and run and jump and play. But if we, the parents take over, they very quickly want to be carried. thanks for the link.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 17, 2011
at 08:30 PM

The patience with doing what my daughter wants is always hard for me. I come from such a background of the parents being in charge that I just want to direct, all the time. I've become a lot better at it, but I still need to improve.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on January 17, 2011
at 08:37 PM

we all do! i think its one of the hardest things to do as a parent, but spending two hours on your belly in the dirt watching your kid watch ants is the most rewarding thing, too.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 17, 2011
at 08:43 PM

OMG. 2 hours. I'd go into shock. You are amazing.

1
95eda9fa0cec952b482e869c34a566b6

on January 17, 2011
at 08:21 PM

If I stay inside for too long, I become very agitated and unhappy. Getting outside and moving around is crucial to my well-being. I played outside all of the time as a child.

The problem I see now with children, in general, is they don't get outside enough. I have two daughters, one in grammar school and another approaching 1 year of age. My oldest is happiest when she gets time outside each day.

1
Medium avatar

on January 17, 2011
at 07:52 PM

While I certainly agree that time spent out in nature is far superior to time spent indoors, I'm still of the opinion that most of the psychological diseases of civilization are the result of chronic nutritional deficiencies.

1
50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on January 17, 2011
at 07:39 PM

Absolutely. Im a firm believer of this.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forest-bathing/

I'm trying to find another cool MDA article that, if I remember correctly, associated spending time in parks, nature in general, provided a great deal of health and mental benefits. It discussed in Japan (I think) that the gov't supported this idea so much that the either opened up parks or paid people to go camping and spend time in nature. I could be off on the details, as I read it a long time ago. I'm actively looking for it and will update my answer when I find it. Anyone else remember this article?

I will also say, I never feel better than after some quality "me" time either from getting some Vitamin D at the park, going for a hike, on a nice walk around the neighborhood. In fact, I just sat down to play on PaleoHacks after a nice 45 minute walk (taking full advantage of my day off). Gorgeous out here in San Diego.

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