Diagnosis: Nature-Deficit Disorder
Richard Louv, a journalist and author, has published multiple books on nature and its importance in children’s development. He coined the term “nature deficit-disorder,” and in 2005, published “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.” His most recent work, “Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives – and Save Theirs” examines the human-animal relationship.
Despite Atlanta being a huge city, we are lucky to have a lot of green space to enjoy. Here are some of Louv’s tips for how to get outdoors:
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Balance your time indoors with time spent outdoors.
“I’m not anti-technology. I believe in a formula: the more high tech our lives become, the more nature we need. This will help us keep ahead of the time we spend on technology, and we have to increase our exposure to the natural world to compensate for the bad influences of technology.”
Reimagine your description of nature and be generous with what it means.
“Nature is both plants and animals. Wild animals, particularly birds, are just about everywhere. Even in the densest neighborhoods, you can find nature.”
You don’t have to go very far to experience nature. Start in your backyard or neighborhood.
Don’t just stick to areas you know.
Be courageous and explore new places.
“Nature is larger than us. We experience awe when we get out of our comfort zone.”
Set the example of being a nature lover for your kids.
“Even when parents are afraid, that doesn’t mean kids will be. We don’t have to be perfect to be parents. We don’t have to know the name of every plant or every bird to appreciate plants or birds. We don’t have to be totally comfortable in nature to set an example for our kids and their exploration and awe of nature.”
Support conservation efforts and help preserve nature.
Since 1970, North America has lost about 3 billion birds, according to a study in “Science.”
“We need to give back to the birds what they’ve given to us, or we will continue to lose them, and then, who will be left to sing to us? Wild animals give us a sense of not being alone in the world, a sense of awe and wonder and biodiversity that supports the longevity of our species. We need to recognize that and give back, and in the giving, we gain a great deal too.”
Take the time to learn new skills as a family.
“Find people who will teach you how to connect your family to nature.” Children &
Nature Network, of which Louv is co-founder and chair emeritus, offers free toolkits for parents on how to get started exploring the outdoors.
Involve other families.
“Create family nature clubs – multiple families that ban together to create a pool of
people to explore nature with. It increases the chances that you’ll actually follow through on taking your kids outdoors. Also, put it on the calendar. You put soccer on the calendar, why not put nature?”
Right now, practice social distancing. In the future, you can explore new spaces with friends.