Do your kids have NDD? Go Outside and Play!

Happy Monday!
Do you remember a few months ago when we talked about T.V? In the post I mentioned Nature Deficit Disorder. Since then I have gotten quite a few inquires about NDD. Here is more information on one of the newest disorders to plague our homes. The great news, it can totally be prevented. Woo Hoo!

By definition, Nature Deficit Disorder is a lack of routine contact with nature that results in stunted academic and developmental growth. 
NDD is an unwanted side effect of the electronic age. Too much time with technology, means not enough time outside. 

Did you know....
* About 9 million children ages 6-19 are overweight or obese.
* Childhood obesity has doubled over the last 30 years for preschoolers and adolescents. It has more than tripled for kids 6-11.
* ADD, asthma, and obesity have increased over the last few decades. 
* Our children may be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. Yikes!
Many argue that these statistics are a direct result of children not spending enough time outside in nature.

Why should we send our kids outside to play?
  • Helps build healthy immune systems in children. 
  • Buffers children against the effects of stressful events.
  • Positive effect on the psychological well-being of children.
  • Less anxiety
  • Less Depression
  • Children feel better about themselves, higher sense of self worth
  • They recover more quickly from stressful life events
  • Lower levels of behavioral disorders.
  • Improved attention span
  • Ability to concentrate and pay attention better
  • Teaches children to be more creative and to solve problems
So as parents, what can we do...

1.    Be a good role model.
Children do, for the most part, what their parents do. Sedentary parents are more likely to have sedentary children. If we spend all our time inside, or in front of the tv or computer, so will our children. Model the behavior you want your children to emulate. Go outside, take walks, explore, teach children to respect nature.
2.    Plan an outside family activity EVERY week. 
Get your kids excited about being outside by planning fun and exciting activities. Once a week, plan to explore the outdoors with your kids. You could go to your local river, beach, forest, or city park. Let your kids help with the planning and they will be extra excited to see the fruits of their labors. Sometimes our outside family activity is simple, like a picnic, or reading library books on the grass. We have started doing scavenger hunts outside, based on the latest book we have read. It is fun to go out and make correlations between what we have read and what is in nature. 
3.    Limit Screen Time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1-2 hours of screen time a day. Turn the TV off and encourage your children to go outside and play. 
4.    Start an outdoor campaign at your children's school. 
Volunteer a little of your time to get kids outside. Teach them to respect the environment, take them out to play games, teach bird watching, or bug collecting. Even teaching them about the different types of clouds will get classes outside in the fresh air. It can be hard for teachers to do these extra activities. Help them out.  
5.    Plant a garden.
Get your children involved and plant a garden. Let them help with every step. The time you spend caring for your veggies will not only build your relationship, but get your family outside more often. 
6.    Be creative with "Outside Toys" and Invest in a few also.
Kids don't need a lot of "equipment" to have fun. Water, trees, flowers, fields, bushes and streams are the best kind of toys because they can be anything the imagination decidesYou can have a few purchased options that will also add to the fun.  Invest in a few different balls, some soccer cones, hula hoops, jump rope, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, water guns. You can also make up fun games outside. We love to play "I Spy,"(I spy with my little Or "What fell from the sky." (we try to name things that have fallen)
7.     Go on Walks
When the weather permits, our family takes a walk everyday after dinner. The tradition started when my husband and I were newlyweds. Three children later it is still one of our favorite things to do. It is a chance for us to talk to our children, each other, and get fresh air.
8.     Let your children go outside. 
I know this is hard when we hear about a child abduction nearly every week on the news, but we can't be paranoid parents. We don't want our children to live in fear either. Trust and let them play. A lot of our anxiety will go away if we will go outside with our kids. 
And, it's okay to let them get dirty. I have a hard time with this one. I have really had to relax and let our kids be kids. I am still strongly opposed to them eating dirt, but I am not nearly as uptight about the dirty clothes as I used to be. Stunted academic and developmental growth, or a little extra laundry. Easy choice.   
9.    Get involved with local organizations.
I like to check in with the Children and Nature Network. Local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are also a good place to start. Community Centers in your area, as well as your local library will probably have a few outdoor activities planned as well. Also, don't underestimate the Chamber of Commerce. Give them a call and see what your community has planned. The activities are usually free.  
If you struggle to get your kids excited about going outside, start by turning off technology and head outside with them. I know there is lots to do inside, but forget the housework and go outside and play. It is just like teaching children to work. Working and playing with your children will help them want to get involved. 


Family Volley


  1. Thanks for this reminder Heather! I need to do better at this.

  2. I have to constantly remind myself also. It is not only affecting children, but adults also.
    A lot of the behavioral problems that children have are actually being caused by not going outside enough.
    We need the natural stimulation and fresh air.

  3. We have so few nice summer days here, that we spend most of the time outside at the beach or a park. The kids play so much and have a great time. We eat less, they hardly fight when outside and we get exercise. And there's no time for tv. Just wish it could last longer.
    Oh ya.. and my house is a mess. If only I could get it clean, then it would stay clean since we're hardly in it.
    Thanks for the post.

  4. Wow. This is fascinating! I look forward to reading more of your blog. (I'd love to do psychology at BYU, but it's a bit hard atm)

  5. Thanks for these tips! I have to remind myself, even when I might be feeling lazy after a hard day at work, my son still needs to get out there and exercise!

  6. Great recommendations! I find our family sometimes too couped up indoors sometimes b/c of the heat. But, we always feel better when we get outdoors and get moving!

    Good Luck with the problogger challenge:)

  7. i'm pro playing outdoors! it's how i grew up, and it's ho i want my kids to grow up. but just recently i've heard that authorities still cannot find a 2 yr old who wandered off while her family was camping, about a young boy who got hit by a bike, about a young child who died when he went and sat into the family car that was 115 degrees inside. . . and i don't even watch or listen to the news! HOW do we hear such stories and not be paranoid? i don't want to let my 8 month old out of my sight! but i don't want him sheltered. but i don't want to become complacent, either. . .


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