It’s a sad fact that right now, children aren’t spending as much time outside as they should – a UK survey in 2016 revealed that children only spend an average of four hours a week enjoying the outdoors. And while it’s easy to blame this on the rise of technology, there are other possible factors too, like busier schedules and lack of green spaces.
But as parents, you can still help your children get more fresh air and sunshine. And what better way to do that than by taking them on a nature walk? It has deeply restorative healing power that highly sensitive and empathic children can especially benefit from. Here are some reasons why:
It encourages creativity
In his 2005 book Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, author Richard Louv makes a strong case for nature as an essential component to ensure that your child develops into a healthy human being. Unlike blacktop playgrounds where everything is laid out, natural places foster more creativity. And as we previously discussed here on the Empaths and Sensitives blog, empathic children and highly sensitive children are easily ungrounded. So exploring nature not only helps them get more grounded. But also opens their minds, ignites their senses and encourages them to think outside the box.
It helps them cope with stress better
Empathic children tend to feel more anxious and overwhelmed than others. Even watching film or TV scenes where something upsetting happens can end up upsetting them. While others tend to brush it off, the same can’t be said for empaths. As an alternative to TV, an article on Centre for Confidence states that being in and seeing nature can dramatically reduce stress. It doesn’t always have to be a long hike or a whole day outside, because even just the sights and softer sounds that are present outdoors can provide children some much-needed relief from hectic situations.
It helps them appreciate their surroundings
It’s normal to want to protect children from the risks of the outside world, but that shouldn’t stop you from allowing them to explore. Nature is sure to pique their curiosity, so it’s only good to let their imagination run free. If you’re worried about taking them out into the open and on off-road adventures, you can ease them into their new surroundings gradually. The iCandy Peach All Terrain pram is designed to give your little one the smoothest ride possible even when faced with challenging rough terrain. That way, you’re still letting them be exposed to the joys of nature with the assurance that they won’t run off or injure themselves. The pram is ideal for younger children so that they get a head start in getting to know and understand nature before they’re independent enough to explore it on their own.
It keeps them physically healthy
The open space is ideal for encouraging movement and play. We already know about the myriad of health benefits that exercise provides, and allowing children to go on nature walks ensures they stay active. The best part is that kids won’t have to think of it as a chore, so it’s easier to turn it into a habit. And although empathic kids who like their solitude might prefer staying indoors with a gadget instead, encourage them to play outside — where they aren’t hunched over a screen and might even make a friend or two. Just make sure that they’re dressed appropriately for the walk.
It teaches them to love animals
Long walks in the country also provide the added benefit of being at one with nature and enjoying the surrounding wildlife. While other people can undoubtedly teach love, furry friends exhibit a different form of selflessness that kids can learn from. Pets are perhaps the least discriminatory creatures on the planet, able to love someone no matter what they look like. One Green Planet notes that spending time with them provides several mental benefits for children as well, such as providing emotional support and boosting their self-esteem.
Written by Guest Blogger – Madison Stein