Nature Deficit Disorder in Your Child
What Is Nature Deficit Disorder ?
What is Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD)? Defined by author Richard Louv in his 2005 book "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder" as a modern day problem where children simply don't spend enough time outdoors anymore. He contends that kids today are more likely to be surfing the net or playing video games rather than play outside during free time. Louv believes that NDD contributes to problems such as hyperactivity and childhood obesity, among others. There are some very simple ways to curtail NDD in your child and introduce nature to children.
Enroll your child in Scouts, 4H or other outdoor activity club. Scouting field trips often include hikes and camping. 4H activities include agricultural based focusing on animal or environmental science. You will also have the added benefit of meeting other parents and getting some fresh air yourself.
If you are lucky enough to live near a State or National Park, schedule a weekend hiking trip to one of them. Pack a picnic lunch and bring the kids. Or, if you are more adventurous, you can bring a tent and camp overnight. Some parks offer activities such as tubing down a lazy river, boating, or even white water rafting. Don't worry - not all rapids are as rough as depicted in the movies. They will enjoy the new sights, experiences and fresh air.
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Oceans and Lakes
If you live near the ocean or a lake, take your child for a walk on the beach (even if it’s too cold for swimming) and collect shells. Or, you may go fossil hunting if you live near a natural formed lake. If you live near a fishable lake, buy a fishing license and take your child fishing. They will be thrilled with his or her first catch.
Seasonal Outdoor Activities
Try some seasonal outings as well. If it’s Fall, find out if there is a pumpkin patch or corn maze near your town. My child loves our annual tradition of going to the corn maze. Or, find colorful fall foliage to take home and use them for Fall decorations. Winter: take your child sledding or tobogganing or ice skating. Spring: plant a garden in your front or back yard. Children love to watch things grow and are eager to help with this task. Summer: look for a local swimming hole or if you are lucky enough to live nearby the ocean, spend an afternoon at the beach.
Start a family-based hiking/activity club and encourage other families to join you. Websites such as Meetup.com enable one to easily organize and advertise any type of club.