We Live on City Island - Don't Let Your Children Succumb to Nature Deficit Disorder This Summer!

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Richard Louv, in his 2005 book Last Child In The Woods, coined the phrase "nature deficit disorder": a phenomenon where children who don't get outside in natural environments develop the symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADHD). These children then struggle in school, drive their parents and teachers crazy, and wind up all too often on medication. Might the natural world offer a different solution?

There are societal forces working against the "child in the woods": parental fears, a shrinking natural environment, and the ever present availability of screen time. Nonetheless, there are numerous opportunities right here in the Bronx to allow children to experience the natural world.

Parental fear has limited the free play of childhood tremendously since I was a boy. I can remember - at age 9 - leaving the house at 9 am, having lunch at my friend's house after a morning of sandlot baseball, and getting back home for dinner (the rule you could not break!). There were no cell phones, just the neighborhood network of parents and our own developing common sense. Turn off the local news - there are no more child-based crimes now than there were in the 1950's when I was growing up, we just hear about every single one of them!

Recent research tells us that family visits to National Parks are declining while electronics sales for children are growing rapidly. You don't even need a National Park: I can take a nature walk with my grandkids around their neighborhood and spend an hour just going around the block. We explore the flowers in each house's gardens, watch the birds, throw rocks in the stream at the end of their street, and play "I Spy" when there is nothing else around. Here on City Island the choices are endless: if you don't have access to the beaches at the end of your street then just walk over the bridge and walk the path to Orchard Beach.

Screen time is here to stay, but it must be monitored, How about this: your child gets one hour of screen time for every hour they play outside. And by "play" I mean free play, not the organized team sports and over-scheduled camp activities. When they say,"I'm bored!" - and believe me, they will - simply remind them that boredom is a choice and go on with your day. Creativity and imagination are developed out of the necessity of relieving boredom.

Spend time this summer in nature with your children. Let them develop the skills of observation, imagination, and play in our beautiful Island environment. What are you waiting for?

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This page contains a single entry by John published on June 20, 2015 9:29 AM.

Alternatives to Violence Around the World was the previous entry in this blog.

"My Child Is Different": Why Diversity Matters - We are NOT all the same! is the next entry in this blog.

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