Nature Deficit Disorder is a phrase used to describe the disconnect between children and nature which results in a wide range of behavioural problems. The solution is easy. Spending time outdoors in nature (even in the loosest sense of the term) has a huge positive impact on a child’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
And the same is true for adults.
What is Nature Deficit Disorder?
Nature Deficit Disorder is not a medical condition but rather a descriptive term coined by Richard Louv. It’s a commentary on our society’s tendency toward electronic devices and remaining indoors rather than exploring mother nature and connecting to our planet.
Kids who don’t spend much time in nature are more prone to anxiety, stress, attention disorders, depression, lower grades, obesity, impaired vision, and could lead to a shorter lifespan.
My Experience with Exposing my Baby to Nature
I first heard this term a couple of years ago but was reminded of it today as I watched Hailey’s growing desire to be outdoors and explore the outdoor world.
She’s loved being outside right from the moment she was born.
There have been many times over the last year where all I’ve had to do to get Hailey to stop crying was step over the threshold into the outside world.
She literally stops the instant we’re outside.
I’ve even experimented and stepped right back into the house at which point the crying starts back up again (unless she’s calmed herself down entirely).
Other people have witnessed this. I’m not making this up, I swear!
I recommend you give it a try.
It works for us and it may work for you.
I believe that exposure to the outdoors helps Hailey to ground herself, which in turn calms her down.
But there are many other physical and emotional benefits of letting your children explore the great outdoors.
Here are 5 benefits of exposing children to nature to avoid Nature Deficit Disorder.
1) Outdoor play increases fitness levels – Children are outside, moving around rather than sitting in front of an electronic devise. This leads to healthier physical bodies and a reduction in obesity.
2) Nature has a calming effect – Being outside reduces stress and anxiety, including reducing ADHD symptoms.
3) Increases creative thinking – Giving the brain a break from technology and stress is restorative to the brain. The human brain is also influenced by our environment. A change of scenery changes our thinking.
4) Improves relationships with others – People who care for nature are more likely to care for others. There’s a measurable increase in compassion as a result of being exposed to plants.
5) Plants help the body heal – Simply being around plants contributes to a sense of well-being and comfort and can actually speed up the recovery process.
I’ve shared a snippet of my experience with Hailey and the outdoors.
I’ve also experienced many benefits from a simple walk such as reduced stress, being better able to focus at work, improved stamina (cardio), and an overall improvement in happiness (to name a few).
Next time you or your child are stressed out, ill, upset, or agitated trying getting outside.
Give it a try!
Let me know what you experience!