Study: Children fare better when connected to nature

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On Earth Day, parents may remind their children to think about ways in which their actions can impact the planet.

According to a recent study, connecting with nature can help children’s brains in return.

The study surveyed 493 families of young children between the ages of 2 to 5.

Parents answered questions about how much their children enjoyed nature, whether they had empathy and responsibility toward nature, as well as their overall awareness of nature.

“What has been shown is kids who are able to spend more time outdoors and connect with nature tend to be happier and better behaved,” said Kate Eshleman, Psy.D, of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, who did not take part in the study.

Researchers also found that not only did the children who were more connected to nature have better moods and behavior, they also showed less stress and had better social skills.

Eshleman said having children spending more of their time outdoors offers many benefits for their overall health.

“There’s dual benefit to spending more time outside,” she said. “The first is increasing their physical activity, connecting with nature and being educated about things outside of a child’s self. Also, the more time a child is outside, the less time they’re spending inside, performing sedentary activities.” 

Eshleman reminds parents that they can greatly impact their child’s habits when it comes spending quality time outdoors.

“It’s really up to the parent to put a limit on screen time and indoor activities and to encourage that time outside together. And the best way to encourage it is by modeling it, so go outside together as a family,” she said.

Complete results of the study can be found in PLOS ONE.