Have you heard of the term NDD (Nature Deficit Disorder)? Nature Deficit Disorder is a term to describe the decline of outdoor exploration by children. According to Richard Louv, lack of nature exposure has caused lots of behavioral issues among children. I first read about it when we were in Alaska during our summer vacation in year 2008. We were in the Denali National Park when I saw the book called “Last Child in the Woods - saving our children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” written by Richard Louv. This book caught my attention immediately because of my son’s recent behavioral problems.
My son was two years old before we moved to Hong Kong from Texas. He was a happy kid and loved the outdoor. After we moved to Hong Kong, we tried our best to find a place near the nature, but it was hard to venture out in a concrete city like Hong Kong. He stayed inside most of the time due to air pollution. After two years we were there (with lack of nature), my son became very irritable and he did not like the outdoors. In fact, he was afraid of being outside.
Our summer vacation in Alaska has changed my son’s view of outdoor. He became a happy kid again! We read “Last Child in the Woods” together, and we realized that many kids had NDD and many of us did not even realize it. As a parent, I felt that we should understand that it is very important to have nature in our lives, as it shapes and helps us in many ways. If you haven’t already, I urged you to read the “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv, (I am not associate with the author in any way, just love the book), you would be more appreciative of outdoor and you would want to do something outside.
Living in the city
Most people live in the city for the jobs and things that we need and want in our lives. When you work and live in the city, It is hard to find time to go outdoor. Every night, when you come home, you would want to eat dinner and then relax. The first thing that we usually do is to sit on our couch and turn the TV on and find our favorite show. We said to ourselves, “I work all day, I deserve to relax and watch my favorite show.” Is this what you do? If your answer is “NO,” that is great. If your answer is that I go outside and enjoy the night, that is even better. However, most families do just that (watching TV) and so do their children.
Ways to venture outdoors
1) Hide the remote control
I have decided to hide the remote control one night. It was the best prank that I have ever did. My husband and my son look for it vigorously. One big man and one little man, going up and down, searching high and low, looking in every room of the house, under the couch, every drawer.... They could not find it. Do you know where I hide it? I hide it in the garden.
They asked me, “Where is the remote control?” I told them, “Let’s go for a walk near the river and I will tell you where it is.” We went for a walk and we played words game during our walk. We talked about where we would go during the summer, and we talked about Malaysia, my home town. Both of them had so much fun that they forgot to ask me where the remote control was when we got home. They went to sleep and had the greatest night.
2) Buy a bicycle, scooter, or roller skates if you haven’t already
My son was so happy when we bought him a bicycle. He was so eager to try it, so he used his persuasive power to convince me to drop my laundry. I was glad that he did and we went to the river trail to ride it. Since that one day, we ride our bikes every weekend on the river trail and we enjoy it very much. In every city, you would be able to find many bike trails. These trails are usually very scenic and wind through the woods and rivers. Please try it and I promise you that you will enjoy it.
3) Star Gazing
In the winter, it gets dark so early. We tend to stay in most of the time. I have decided that we should do something outside. My son told me that he was afraid of the dark and he would not want to do anything outside. It was only 5pm. I told him that darkness is part of nature. He told me that he did not like it. I talked to my husband and we have decided to stay up late on a Friday night and took out our telescope and looked at the night sky. It is hard to see stars in the city, because of the bright lights. So, we drove to the country side and we looked at the stars. The starry night was amazing and my son was so excited to see Saturn and its ring!
4) Plant a garden
Get your hand dirty in the garden. I showed my son how to garden one day, and he dug a big hole in the garden for me. He had dirt all over his face and hands, but he was happy. We planted our first cherry tree and we were both very proud.
5) Collect rocks or shells
Rocks and shells are everywhere. You can collect rocks and shells in many places. You can drive to a state park near you and you would be able to find rocks. Rocks are fun. You can skip the rock. You can paint a rock. You can buy a rock tumbler and make the rocks shiny. You can decorate your garden with rocks. You can make a jewelry with rock. You can do the same with shells. Of course, you will go outside to collect them!
6) Collect leaves or flowers to make book marks
Leaves and flowers are wonderful additions to your books. It is easy to make a book mark with leaves and flowers. You just pick up the leaves and flowers that you like and put them in between of the pages of your book. If you want to make a real book mark with paper, you can get a piece of hard card stock and cut them into the sizes that you like for a book mark. Then, you decorate your book marks with leaves and flowers. When you are done, laminate it and you will have the “one and only” book mark!
7) Go fishing
My husband told me that he used to fish by a river next to his house. He had fond memories about that. We thought that fishing would be fun for the family to do. So, we did just that last summer. We bought fishing rod and went to one of the small lake in Northern Minnesota and had our first fishing trip with our son. He caught lots of fishes i.e. Northern Pike, Walleye, and Sun fish. We ate the freshest fishes in our lives during that trip and we all enjoyed it. It is not hard to find something to do outside. It just takes that one step!
8) Bring your kitchen outside
We have a grill outside next to our garden. If I cook inside, that usually mean that the big guy and the small guy will stay inside and watch TV. So, we have started to cook outside most of the time. When I cook in the backyard, my husband and my son will play catch in the backyard. I enjoy watching them playing catch while I cook. It was really nice to have a kitchen outside.
9) Invest in a State Park Annual Pass
How many times did you drive by a State Park and did not go in because you have to pay $10 to get in. The cost for State Park Annual Pass is different for each State; it is between $100 and $200. The pass worth every cent of it. If you have a State Park Annual pass, you will for sure explore the state parks around your area more often. Most state parks are well maintained. They have biking and hiking trails and many activities outdoor for all to enjoy. They are beautiful and we should get out and use them. In the winter, you can go snow shoeing and it is really fun.
10) Make a kite and fly it
We pick up some sticks outside and make our own kites. When It is windy out, we go outside and fly a kite. It is really nice to feel the wind on our faces. Nature is great. God has created a wonderful world for us to explore and we should not stay inside . We should appreciate the wonder outside. Go for a walk, watch the sunrise and sunset, go for a swim in the lakes, catch a firefly and see how it glow.....
I can think of million of activities we can do outside. We should just do it! Bring a book and let’s go outside and read while we sit on the grassy field! Have fun and get rid of the NDD! Help our kids to stay active and love our nature!