The Great Escape- Kids in the Woods

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“Unlike television, nature does not steal time; it amplifies it. Nature offers healing for a child living in a destructive family or neighborhood.”
― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Children do not have to live in a destructive family or neighborhood for stress to take its toll. With so many additives, seemingly so little time, and the general flow of most fast-paced lives children can get overwhelmed. Physical exercise can help relieve some of this built up anxiety. Being in nature, coupled with exercise, can support the nervous system in reclaiming a calmness it deserves.

My children are often resistant to hiking and going outside. They would much rather sit in front of a screen than to get sweaty. Although when we take the time to go outside they always end up enjoying it. Part of the fun is going beyond a mere walk. While we are in the woods we play games- tag, races, and most recently hide-and-go-seek.

The kids will run up a mountain or hill that would usually cause great complaining if we were simply walking. Going into the woods is exciting, not only for the kids, but for the parents! We get to slow down (even if we are running sometimes). We talk, sometimes we just listen to the sounds around us.

Most kids love being in nature even if they initially resist it. It is unfortunate but sometimes we have to teach children how to enjoy being in nature. My son is worried about germs and one of the first times we went on a hike I made him get his hands dirty. Although the fear of germs has not completely subsided he now willingly grabs sticks, throws rocks, and climbs boulders.

Nature has so much to offer! Climbing trees, throwing sticks, and finding new wonders can be just a small part of the overall experience and fun of being outside. Being outside can build a sense of confidence unlike any indoor activity.

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Sometimes it is alright to make a mountain out of a molehill!

          So, explore ways in which you can incorporate nature into your family routine. It will not only give needed exercise, it can support bonding, relaxation, and a sense of confidence so needed in the developmental process of young people.