Anxiety is becoming more prevalent in children these days. With more school violence like shootings, bomb threats and other serious stress possibilities, more children demonstrate stress during the hours that they are in school. Another stressful situation that can increase childhood anxiety rates is living in a rough neighborhood where gang violence is common. Even in rural schools, students are often confronted with bullying that doesn’t stop when they go home. Cyber bullying is now a real threat that many parents are unaware of. Getting back to nature is helping many kids overcome anxiety.
The Many Benefits That Being in Nature Offers Anxious Children
Most people can relate to feeling calmer and less hurried when they venture out for a relaxing walk in a nature area. Children and teens too feel this lightening of the atmosphere when they are in a beautiful outdoor setting. Being outdoors lowers mental and emotional stress naturally. Children that spend time outdoors often benefit from healthy exercise that can keep weight down and increase body strength.
Reasons to Send Your Kids Outdoors to Play
Many children are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD. These kids have a harder time focusing, and they often become anxious and frustrated when something disrupts their normal routines. New mental health studies are stressing the importance of outdoor play. Kids with ADD benefit from outdoor play time. Here, they can exude their inner stress by raising their activity levels during active play like playing dodge ball, riding their bikes or taking a healthy hike.
Why Mental Health Professionals Advocate Outdoor Time for Anxious Kids
This generation of kids is much more prone to increased levels of anxiety, aggressive behaviors, depression, anger and more. More mental health professionals today are advocating that parents encourage their troubled children to get outdoors more often. Spending time outdoors is good for your mental health. So what is stopping children and teens from enjoying the great outdoors? Today’s kids are used to multitasking and communicating with their electronics. This generation prefers to stay on and connected. Kids tend to stay indoors playing video games, watching television, talking on their cell phones and browsing the Internet.
Parents Urged to Enforce Healthy Electronic Break Periods
Parents can help their children to pursue outdoor time by enforcing healthy electronic break periods. Having times with no distractions can improve moods and decrease anxiety levels. Even if this break period only lasts an hour or two, the quiet can spur kids to relax and do something enjoyable. Taking family jaunts to a nearby beach, a neighborhood park or taking a hike on a forested trail can significantly improve mental and emotional health while strengthening family bonds as well. Other outdoor adventures include trips to an amusement part, fun boat ride, visiting a nearby zoo with outdoor exhibits and setting up a volleyball net in the backyard for family or friend games.
Specialized Therapy for Troubled Youth
Parents that notice that their child is showing symptoms of anxiety, depression or an attention deficit should consult with an experienced therapist that works with kids, teens and families. Your child could have a learning disorder or an inability to focus well. These conditions can be treated with medication, behavioral therapy or natural remedies. Preteens and teens that have gotten into trouble with the law or school frequently might benefit from wilderness therapy that is becoming more popular with mental health experts. These therapeutic sessions are set in a nature location and includes self-esteem building activities.
Parents can encourage their kids to spend more time outdoors by adding fun outdoor pursuits like a pool, trampoline or basketball hoop. This activity can spur the body to release the naturally occurring endorphins known to decrease stress and promote feelings of well being. After dinner walks, weekend touch football games and family camping can lower anxiety.