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tafadzwa

Nature-Deficit Disorder...

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I just finished a great book, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. Has anyone read it? He explores the possibility that many kids and teens may be experiencing "nature-deficit disorder." It's an insightful glimpse into a societal disconnect from nature that is research-based, yet hopeful for the future and full of practical ideas. Here's a brief exerpt to give you a taste if you're looking for a good read:

"Children need nature for the healthy development of their senses, and, therefore, for learning and creativity. This need is revealed in two ways: by an examination of what happens to the senses of the young when they lose connection with nature, and by witnessing the sensory magic that occurs when young people-even those beyond childhood-are exposed to even the smallest direct experience of a natural setting."

The book repeatedly praises fishing as a means to fostering this development (which we already know). How else do all of you share your experiences of nature with kids?

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ATV's. Develops their respect, motor skills, hand eye, good exercise, gets them to see something real, and it keeps their attention because they are excited. You can start them younger than hunting. Hunting gives the same experiences, but the chances of them getting bored is higher.

I have 4 sisters and 3 of them have multiple kids. I have seen very easily, the ones who have been "outside" more than others. They are better at sports and normally maintain their weight easier than the ones who sit in the house most of their time.

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Excellent posting tafadzwa (what's that mean anyways?)

I think there's a lot of talk about getting kids in the outdoors but not enough of us are doing it on a regular basis. It's tough when you only get out a few times yourself. I taught in Minneapolis for 8 years and every year we'd have a picnic at either Lake Harriet or Minnehaha Falls and I'd always bring about 20 fishing rods with and there would be a steady stream of kids fishing. They were always excited to go and some of them only went this one time while others went a few other times.

The biggest thing I think that book and a few others out there like it are advocating, is that kids need to spend time outdoors on their own exploring, creating, role-playing and just being kids.

As a new Dad I couldn't agree more! Sad thing is that it's a scary world. I'm curious to see how well I can balance letting my boy just explore and be a boy while at the same time allowing for the parental paranoias!

What do other parents our there do?

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I am a somewhat new father as well, my boy just turned two. He spends a ton of time outdoors, and I do understand that some parents have all the typical paranoias, me not so much though. I think if you personally go out and spend the time with them in the outdoors and do stuff with them, not just letting them run off on their own, they grow up having an understanding of nature. I try to do as much as I can outside with him, but on occasion, when we are in a comfortable place he can run off on his own to play. He loves being outside.

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I agree with Tom and do the same with my 2 1/2 year old daughter. But I think the days of when we grew up and leaving the house early and not coming home till supper are over. We would run house to house all over the neighborhood playing. No way I would let my daughter do that in this day and age. It's pretty sad really, cause that was the best part of being a child.

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All you older guys.Ya ever think all the weirdos,troubles,and fears parents have nowdays were there when we were young? They just were'nt as publizied as now,Breeding fear in all now in these days.

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Speaking of exercising one's senses through nature. Have any of you experienced this?

First, we humans do not have the most sensitive sense of smell but I swear that for at least half of the deer that I have taken, I could sense they were there through my nose before I actually saw or heard them. The sensation has always been very subtle but there nonetheless.

I guess I'm just a little weird!

Bob

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I'm with sparcebag, I'm pretty sure statistically speaking, that there were more child abductions and child sexual assaults when we were growing up (70's and 80's) vs today. What's feeding your fears?

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I agree with your Sparce on all issues and levels they have been around non-stop since god knows when, but with the amount of media coverage, non-stop news, and the internet, people are actually aware of what is happening and can't continue to shelter the truth

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I'm with sparcebag, I'm pretty sure statistically speaking, that there were more child abductions and child sexual assaults when we were growing up (70's and 80's) vs today. What's feeding your fears?

The media! Sensationalism sells, sells commercial air time, sells ads, make people money. And it is sad. We are becoming totally paranoid. One of my daughters friends won't even let her 7 year old play out in the yard for crying out loud.

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Another thing we can blame on them media types!

I lived in St. Paul for 11 years on a nice, quiet, blue-collar street in a neighborhood that's been stable for decades. Once we had kids & started spending more time in the front yard, I realized there were issues on our block.

The meth dealer two doors down. The domestic violence next door that splashed into other people's lives. The untrained dog down the street that once jumped one of my kids (luckily I was there, & luckily it happened too fast for me to get my shotgun). The 240 pounds juvenile delinquent who broke windows in broad daylight, bloodied his sister in a fight in the middle of the street, threatened several folks up & down the block, & ended up in jail multiple times.

I did not let my kids, 3 & 5 when we moved, play outside unsupervised. No f-ing way.

Where we live now, they go outside & run around by themselves, because these kinds of immediate threats don't exist where I live now. Part of the reason we moved.

First, I was afraid for my kids, & that fear had a basis in what was happening around us. Now, they can run around like wild things because their surroundings are safe. Neither had anything to do with the media.

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Speaking of exercising one's senses through nature. Have any of you experienced this?

First, we humans do not have the most sensitive sense of smell but I swear that for at least half of the deer that I have taken, I could sense they were there through my nose before I actually saw or heard them. The sensation has always been very subtle but there nonetheless.

I guess I'm just a little weird!

Bob

No, your not the only one Bob, I have had that happen too, usually smell them when im stalking.. It's not every time, but it does happen.. You might have to be used to living in the countryside and out of the pollution for that " sense" to develop..

I do believe that being in nature brings us a better understanding of who we are and what we are.. our place in the world as it were. Some places I go to I can feel the stress leaving my body.. it's like a purification.. as for the kids.. I take them fishing and hunting if they want to go.. I have never forced the issue, and usually they beg to go with. My youngest is 9 and is counting on getting his "Red Ryder" bb-gun soon.. Natures cool.. and it's where we belong.. we are part of it.

Lately though i have had a hard time going hunting at all, as most of the potlatch land I used to hunt is either cut down or leased out.. Whats left is a broken hearted hunter who spends more time fishing..

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I had a speech class in college a two years ago, and this was the topic for one of my speeches. There is tons of information out there if you just google Nature Deficit Disorder. I am a new father with a 7 month old at home, and he gets to go outside with me quite a bit, I even take him on walks in his backpack carrier to check out some of the public land around where I live. I guess it is all how the children are raised. If they are brought up spending time outdoors I think they will do it more when they get older. New technologies have contributed a lot to this as well with all the different types of video game systems as well as the computer. Children can fish or hunt on their playstation and not have to do any work besides moving their fingers. Which leads to another problem with children...obesity.

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You're right on WriteOutdoors...the idea is to allow for open-ended, creative exploration.

(My name is from some time I spent in Zimbabwe...it means "to be happy" in Shona).

The author would agree with those of you who commented on the pervasiveness of ill-founded fears. He calls this phenomenon the "Bogeyman Syndrome," and includes some stats and misconceptions that are swirling around.

My little guy is only 4 months old, so I am looking forward to sharing my love of nature with him. I went on a walk with my niece and nephew the other day and we spent some time identifying Minnesota trees. It seems that they would find this boring, but they were pretty excited to know the actual names of some of the trees we were walking beneath.

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