A book review.
You just want your kids to be happy, right? Parents everywhere want happy kids. It’s pure joy to watch your children laugh, play and enjoy life. One sure way to reach the “happy kids” goal is to read the new book Finding Ecohappiness by Sandi Schwartz, and use her suggestions for getting more nature in your life.
In Finding Ecohappiness, Sandi covers all the different ways we interact with nature. Creative Play is a big part of spending time in nature, but she includes other ideas as well. Everything from finding Awe and Gratitude to exploring Food choices. Each chapter explains the mental and physical health benefits from our time with nature. And all the chapters end with a list of activities!
Awe and Gratitude
My favorite was Chapter 3, Awe and Gratitude. I think this chapter spoke to me because I can clearly recall times when I experienced Awe! My first visit to the Grand Canyon, watching a glacier calve in Alaska, and coming upon a pod of dolphins while on a cruise. Awe causes a change in your emotions and in your physical being. You feel calmer, happier and also excited. We all seek moment of awe in our lives, it makes sense to nurture awe for our kids.
You don’t have to travel to natural wonders to experience awe. Looking up at the stars, spotting a rainbow, and finding local AWE some spots are perfect ways to experience awe. Often we don’t remember to appreciate the beauty that is right in our own backyard.
Sandi makes the connection between awe and gratitude and explains how nature supports that. You want your child to learn to be grateful. So why not use the natural world to help teach that lesson.
Gratitude is also an important way for us to find good mental health. When we are grateful we are unable to dwell on negative thoughts. Gratitude makes us more generous and more kind to other. Isn’t that a habit you would love your kids to have?
Another area she explores and discusses is mental health. Mental health is a topic that needs to be recognized and accepted more now than ever before. The changes that children have had to adjust to the past three years have been difficult.
Helping our kids better manage stress and anxiety through resources like nature, benefits everyone. Finding Ecohappiness provides parents with the tools to support their children by using exploration in nature. Your child will feel calmer and happier. Isn’t that what all parents want, happy kids?
Parents question how much time should their child be using technology. They ask, “When is a good age for my child to have their own phone? What should my child be doing on technology?” And last, but not least, “What apps should my child be using?” Great questions! My question to parents is how much time does your child spend outside playing every day?
Balance between technology and outdoor play is important for the well being and mental health of our children. Honestly, for all of us. Nature supports having happy kids. So what does that look like?
Children get pure joy from being in nature. This means being surrounded by trees, butterflies, birds and other creatures in nature. Letting them explore by looking under logs or using branches to build forts is healthy in building their imagination. The book is full of great activities and ideas.
Many children today do not spend much time playing outdoors freely. They may be outdoors, but it is participating in an activity governed by adults like coaches. Spending time outdoors playing with children without adults is beneficial for many reasons. This gives children the opportunity to build their social skills with peers their age. It provides them the chance to
- create their own rules
- Use their imagination
- Explore independently
- Solve their own problems
- Develop their own interests
- Learn about the world around them.
This also helps children regulate their big emotions. By navigating independently it builds their self-confidence. For example, Sandi uses the analogy of children have more opportunity to take risks in nature in a healthy way. For example, they may try to climb a tree or walking across a log and fail, but try again and succeed. This creates perseverance. It also provides children the chance to use their five senses. This helps children to be aware of how they are feeling and what is making them feel a certain way. Overall, it helps a child to feel calmer and happier.
By finding ways to be outside in green space with your children will benefit the entire family. Taking a walk with your children in your neighborhood or a local park will help your child learn about your neighborhood and recover from attention overload. Talk to them about the different things you see or better yet, make a game out of it. Go on a nature hunt or an I Spy adventure. Walking in green spaces helps children feel less anxious.
Combining your One-On-One Time with time spent in nature gives you a triple benefit. In the end your child grows to love the outdoors, you deepen your relationship with them and you both create wonderful memories. You’ll both succeed at Finding Ecohappiness.
To purchase Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer go to The Ecohappiness Project.