Healing any illness requires an understanding of where it comes from. And nature deficit disorder is no exception.
Although it may appear simplistic at first glance, there are many reasons why children are experiencing intense nature withdrawal.
Getting down and dirty with the root causes of nature deficit disorder allows healers and wellness professionals to know which strategies are most effective for helping children heal.
Here are the top 4 causes of nature deficit disorder in kids:
#1: Parent Fear
Modern parents have a lot on their plates. Couple that with hyped up media, sensationalized news, and over-regulated communities, and families feel a deep ‘fear’ of the natural world. Letting kids run in the neighborhood is a thing of the past. Parents are now penalized, shamed, and reprimanded for allowing their kids to play alone in their own yards, woods, and fields.
This fear only magnifies when reports of childhood abduction abound in the media and in movies, despite the rates of missing children being 40% less than they were 20 years ago. Letting our children play outside is not a crime, and with common sense parenting we can still keep our kids safe.
#2: “Busy” Kids
Children have crazy schedules these days. They are over-committed with after school sports, music practice, hours of homework, weekend social gatherings, and long days sitting in school classrooms. This frenetic busy-ness is running children ragged.
Countless times I’ve worked with kids who say they are “stressed out”, “overwhelmed”, and feel like “there are not enough hours in the day” to do all that is asked of them. What our youth really needs though is relaxed, unstructured, outdoor free play!
#3: Digital Addiction
Technology is everywhere. And our love affair with television, social media, texting, and video games is over-stimulating for children’s young minds. Some kids are now spending over 50 hours each week in front of a screen or hand-held device! This diversion from the natural world is resulting in a generation that is plugged in to an artificial reality, and unplugged from nature.
If we are to overcome nature deficit disorder as a society, we have to begin to acknowledge our addiction to digital media and develop a more measured relationship with technology.
#4: City Loving
Eighty percent of Americans now live in urban environments. This movement out of rural and wilderness areas means that more and more children are growing up in a nature void environment. Full of noise, concrete, lights, and artificial surroundings, urban children appear to suffer significantly more from chronic illnesses. And it’s no wonder.
Encased in a mesh of human design, city loving kids are removed from the natural rhythms and cycles of nature. As a consequence, they can become ill – in body, mind, and spirit. Encouraging urban living children to experience the natural world is a top priority for future health and happiness of our culture.
Then check out our upcoming Nature Prescriptions 101 Online Course for holistic healers and wellness professionals!
Ingraham, C. (2015). There’s never been a safer time to be a kid in America. The Washington Post.
Kaiser Family Foundation. (2010). Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-to 18-year-old. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Lambert, L. (2012). More Americans move to cities in past decade–Census. Reuters, March, 26.
Nicolaou, N., Siddique, N., & Custovic, A. (2005). Allergic disease in urban and rural populations: increasing prevalence with increasing urbanization. Allergy, 60(11), 1357-1360.
Want to Learn How to Help Kids Heal from the Outside In?
Subscribe to get free tidbits about nature deficit disorder, the pediatric microbiome,
childhood toxicity, and nature-based medicine!