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Have You Heard about NDD? The Symptoms and the Solutions
Have you heard about the behavioral problems that can be caused by not getting enough time out in nature? We are going to tell you about Nature Deficit Disorder, how to spot the symptoms, and some simple solutions.
This disorder affects both adults and children. The general idea here is that humans of all ages are spending less time outside than ever before. When we spend more time inside homes, cars, offices, and shopping malls, and fail to get back in touch with nature, this can lead to behavioral problems.
In fact, Richard Louv wrote about this problem in his 2005 book entitled Last Child in the Woods. He was the first to hypothesize that when people, especially children, do not spend sufficient amounts of time outside with nature, it results in behavioral or mental problems.
It is understandable that in today’s modern world, parents want to keep their children safe, so they keep them indoors unless they can provide personal supervision. As kids grow older, they often enjoy video games, television, movies, and computers, especially online games and amusing videos. And unfortunately, many of adults are so tired after working that the thought of going outside to do anything just seems like too much of an effort. So they lounge on the sofa or in bed watching Netflix movies and marathons of their favorite television show. Read more about 7 reasons to turn off Netflix.
Whatever the reason, Nature Deficit Disorder can take its toll. Let’s look at some of the symptoms of this problem:
- Obesity (in children and adults)
- Lower grades in school
- Shorter lifespan with each generation
- Little or no respect for natural beauty
- Little or no understanding of the importance of nature
- ADD or ADHD
- Loss of imagination
- Loss of creativity
- Loss of innocence at the natural wonders of life
- Dependence on others (lack of independence)
- Fear of nature or the outdoors, of wide open spaces, or of forests
- Fear of normal, harmless animals (squirrels, lizards, etc.)
The good news is that this is an easy problem to resolve.
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If you are a parent, the first thing you do is to begin to spend more time outdoors yourself. Set a good example for your children. Lounging in the backyard is OK, but starting a garden with vegetables and flowers is better.
Next, take your children with you. Let them plant some seeds or seedlings. Explain to them how plants use sunlight as food, how trees turn our carbon dioxide into oxygen, or how bees pollinate flowers.
If you can, take a few weekend trips that involve nature, rather than going to an amusement park. Go camping. Teach kids how to build a fire, how to find the Big Dipper in the sky, how to find safe drinking water in the river. (If you don’t know these things, this is a great time to learn right alongside your children.) Even a trip to a beach can be a good learning experience if you don’t spend all day lying on a blanket surfing Facebook. If you can find a beach with tide pools, these are great learning experiences for children. See how many crabs you can spot in an hour, stick your fingers inside a sea urchin, and admire the different colors of starfish. Take your kids to the Grand Canyon, a public aquarium, the Great Lakes of Michigan; any vacation that gets you out in nature is a good one.
If you don’t yet have children, be sure you spend at least some time outside each day (weather permitting). You can go walking through a nature park, hiking, anywhere as long as you are outside and that you aren’t spending that time looking at your cell phone or tablet.
In fact, during harsh winter weather when going outside is sometimes downright dangerous, having at least one day per week when you turn off all electronics is a good idea (Find out dangers of electronics). Make it a fun family night, not a punishment. Play board games by candlelight, tell scary stories, play hide and seek inside the house, or even a good old fashioned game of charades, anything that doesn’t involve a screen should be welcome.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Wellness Trends of 2015
This isn’t a problem someone made up in order to sell a book. There is even a group called No Child Left Inside Coalition that actively works towards getting children to spend more time outside and actively learn from their environment. They are working on a No Child Left Inside Act, which would increase environmental education in schools, more than just attending a biology class in high school or growing a plant from a seed inside a jar in grade school.