Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the WoodsSaving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” to describe the negative affects children favoring the indoors over the outdoors.
At first, the idea seems counterintuitive. Isn’t the indoors a safer place for children? After all, there are snakes, strangers and falls from trees waiting outside. Louv, in an interview with NPR, sees it the other way around:
[NPR]: … When you talk about people being afraid of nature, afraid of the terrible things that can happen, afraid of what might happen to their children if you let them roam freely from home, I mean, these are fears that people have.
Mr. Louv: Perception of fear is real. The causes of fear are less real. The actual number of stranger abductions have been going down over the last many years, but the perception is strong. And I acknowledge that I felt that as a parent raising my kids. So I suggest that they send their kids out into the woods with a cell phone. … We need to see natural shapes in the horizon. And when we don’t get that, we don’t do so well.
So if our kids need nature, how can we get them out there? Louv suggests it may be as simple as thinking small and letting them see your own passion for God’s creation.
Mr. Louv: Don’t assume that you have to go to Yosemite. I mean, there’s a lot of nature in most people’s back yards. Leave part of the yard rough. Don’t manicure everything. Small children in particular love to turn over rocks and find bugs, and give them some space to do that. Take your child fishing. Take your child on hikes. … I think that how I received that was through my parents’ own enthusiasm for nature … it’s so important for parents to find their own enthusiasm and discover nature with their child.
Read the rest of “Saving Kids From ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder” on NPR. For further reading on children and the outdoors read “Kids, Knives and Creation Care” from Flourish President and Co-Founder Rusty Pritchard.