How to raise a child that cares about nature

Photo Phillip Put

It is in the news every day, from climate change to disappearing species, and we need to do something to reverse these trends. But how do we encourage children to not only care but also take action?

Curiosity, care and compassion for our natural world comes from early contact with nature. A sense of wonder, awe and fascination move children to act while painting a disastrous picture of the future easily overwhelms a child and it is easy to feel that it is too difficult to change anything. Some things that help nature may be more inconvenient, like walking to school and if a too dark picture is painted it may be tricky to motivate a child.

An emotional connection with nature increases a child’s sense of responsibility toward nature. Yet, many children spend very little time in nature. They may spend of their childhood in cities, where green spaces and parks are rare. This lack of contact with nature may not only have an impact on the child’s health and physical well-being, it may also impact on the way they care for the environment.

So what it is exactly about being in nature that influences a child to develop an environmental concern? Well, researchers are not sure but children seem to identify with animals and nature from a young age and to further encourage this by spending time in nature may positively impact upon their willingness to engage in “green behaviour” and to care for the environment. Fun activities in nature like hiking, swimming, cloud spotting are gifts of experiencing nature.

Nature is a playground. Inspecting dirt and making mud cakes is more interesting than plastic toys, and it builds a curiosity and fascination of nature that may translate into a desire to protect it. Raising a child that has a connection to nature and who honestly care about it costs lots of Love and Time!

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