Saturday, September 17, 2016

10 Ways to Stop Stress Now

Put Stress in Its Place

How you handle stress makes a big difference in how you feel. It might even help your blood pressure, blood sugar level, and the rest of you. Use these calming strategies to stop stress ASAP.

Break Out the Bubble Gum

Next time you’re at the end of your rope, unwrap a stick of gum. According to studies, chewing gum lowers anxiety and eases stress. Some researchers think the rhythmic act of chewing may improve blood flow to your brain, while others believe the smell and taste help you relax.
Get Outside

Spending time outdoors, even close to home, is linked to better well-being. You're in a natural setting, and you're usually doing something active, like walking or hiking. Even a few minutes can make a difference in how you feel.

Smile Like You Mean It

Don’t roll your eyes the next time someone advises you to “grin and bear it.” In times of tension, keeping a smile on your face – especially a genuine smile that’s formed by the muscles around your eyes as well as your mouth – reduces your body’s stress responses, even if you don’t feel happy. Smiling also helps lower heart rates faster once your stressful situation ends.

Sniff Some Lavender

Certain scents like lavender may soothe. In one study, nurses who pinned small vials of lavender oil to their clothes felt their stress ease, while nurses who didn’t felt more stressed. Lavender may intensify the effect of some painkillers and anti-anxiety medications, so if you’re taking either, check with your doctor before use.

Tune In

Heading into a stressful situation? Music can help you calm down. In one study, people had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol when they listened to a recording of Latin choral music before doing something stressful (like doing math out loud or giving a speech) than when they listened to a recording of rippling water. (Wondering what that choral piece was, music fans? Try Miserere by Gregorio Allegri.)

Reboot Your Breath

Feeling less stressed is as close as your next breath. Focusing on your breath curbs your body’s “fight or flight” reaction to pressure or fear, and it pulls your attention away from negative thoughts. Sit comfortably in a quiet place. Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting your chest and lower belly rise and your abdomen expand. Breathe out just as slowly, repeating a word or phrase that helps you relax. To reap the most benefit, repeat for at least 10 minutes.

Be Kind to Yourself

We all have a constant stream of thoughts running through our heads, and sometimes what we tell ourselves isn’t so nice. Staying positive and using compassionate self-talk will help you calm down and get a better grip on the situation. Talk to yourself in the same gentle, encouraging way you’d help a friend in need. “Everything will be OK,” for instance, or "I'll figure out how to handle this."

Write Your Stress Away

Jotting down your thoughts can be a great emotional outlet. Once they're on paper, you can start working out a plan to resolve them. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer pen and notebook, a phone app, or a file on your laptop. The important thing is that you’re honest about your feelings.

Tell a Friend

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek out the company of a friend or loved one. Have a friend who’s dealing with the same worries as you? Even more reason to open up. You'll both feel less alone.

Inspirational Quote for September 17, 2016

“Real success is finding your life work in the work that you love.”

I can soooo relate to this! I have been blessed that, following early retirement, I have found my niche in working with Tarot. I don’t consider it “work,” as I feel blessed to be able to do what I love most every day. However, I do realize that not all of us are so fortunate. Many people wake up each morning dreading the day ahead in a job they really dislike but feel trapped with no choice because of a need to earn money to pay their way through life. Let’s face it, most of us need to earn a living. Real success is being able to do something you love which also generates enough money to pay the bills. So, if you can or have achieved this for yourself, be sure to give thanks every day that you’re one of the very lucky ones.


We All Benefit When We Design For Disability

"I believe that losing my hearing was one of the greatest gifts I've ever received," says Elise Roy. As a disability rights lawyer and design thinker, she knows that being deaf gives her a unique way of experiencing and reframing the world a perspective that could solve some of our largest problems. As she says: "When we design for disability first, you often stumble upon solutions that are better than those when we design for the norm."

Friday, September 16, 2016

Could Gay-Straight Alliances Reduce Bullying?

By Robert Marx, Heather Hensman Kettrey

Thousands of these organizations exist. Could they make a difference?

As students across the country zip up their backpacks and get on the bus for their first weeks of school, many will have more to focus on than memorizing their new schedules or making it to homeroom on time.
For some, the chief concern will be avoiding the bullying and harassment that follow from class to class, through the hallways, or into locker rooms.
Although federal data indicate rates of bullying have decreased over the past decade, bullying remains a significant issue. One in five students still reports being bullied at school.
Even though all students are at risk, bullying does not target or affect all students equally: Some students are not only more likely to be bullied, but are also more likely to be negatively impacted by it. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students are approximately 91 percent more likely to be bullied than their heterosexual peers.
Tragically, being bullied is associated with higher rates of anxiety disorders, depression, and poor academic performance as well as suicide, suicidal attempts, and suicidal thoughts. Students who are bullied for their actual or perceived sexuality or gender expression (that is, victims of homophobic bullying) are more likely than students who are bullied for other reasons to experience depression and suicidal thoughts.
In some ways, this may explain why LGBTQ students report rates of attempted suicide two to seven times that of their heterosexual peers.
So, what can be done about this?
One promising solution is the establishment of gay-straight alliances in schools.

What are gay-straight alliances?

Gay-straight alliances are student-run organizations that provide a space for LGBTQ students and their straight allies to come together. Gay-straight alliances often aim to promote a supportive school climate for students of all sexual orientations and gender expressions, to decrease bullying, and to provide students with a space to be themselves.
The earliest gay-straight alliances emerged in Massachusetts in the late 1980s when students and teachers at three different private schools began to hold meetings between LGBTQ and straight students.
Today, there are over 4,000 local chapters of gay-straight alliances, officially registered with the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, illustrating their popularity in addressing homophobic bullying in the United States.
Students meet to socialize, watch movies, discuss social issues, and plan dances and events for their school. They also organize advocacy initiatives such as the Day of Silence and No Name Calling Week, that bring attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.

The promise of gay-straight alliances

Considering the high risk that LGBTQ students face for being bullied, harassed, or victimized at school, we sought to determine whether gay-straight alliances were associated with lower rates of homophobic bullying.
We believed our partnership was perfect to explore this question: One of us (Robert) is a former high school teacher and gay-straight alliance advisor, and the other (Heather) is a sociologist who studies gender and sexuality. Together, we wanted to explore the existing research on gay-straight alliances to determine if there were any uniform findings that could be important for policymakers and school leaders.
We combined and analyzed data from approximately 63,000 adolescents who participated in 15 independent studies about their experiences with gay-straight alliances and bullying.
We found that, although individual studies offered mixed results (as some said gay-straight alliances were associated with lower reports of student victimization, while others said there was no association), data indicated students at schools with gay-straight alliances reported less bullying.
LGBTQ students at schools with gay-straight alliances were 52 percent less likely to hear homophobic remarks like “that’s so gay” at school. Additionally, these students were 36 percent less likely to be fearful for their own safety and 30 percent less likely to experience “homophobic victimization,” such as being harassed or physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation or gender expression.

Can gay-straight alliances change the school environment?

Interestingly, in our analysis, we did not distinguish between gay-straight alliance members and nonmembers. That means LGBTQ students may derive the potential benefits of having a gay-straight alliances at their school regardless of whether they participate in these clubs themselves.
Perhaps having a gay-straight alliance promotes an accepting school climate by sending the message that a school is welcoming and committed to the success of all its students and, therefore, homophobic acts will not be tolerated. Perhaps gay-straight alliances raise awareness of LGBTQ issues among all students and, thus, create a supportive environment for all LGBTQ students, not just those who are gay-straight alliance members.
Regardless, it is heartening to know that all LGBTQ students could benefit from gay-straight alliances.
Importantly, our research is consistent with the existing body of literature around bullying. Our findings indicating that gay-straight alliances are associated with lower rates of bullying are right in line with previous evaluations of general anti-bullying programs that do not specifically target homophobic bullying.
That means that gay-straight alliances, which are student-initiated, student-run organizations that require little funding beyond an advisor’s stipend, may promote benefits similar to those derived from outside programs that can require considerable funds and resources to implement.

There are hurdles

Despite the promise of gay-straight alliances as a potential solution to homophobic bullying, there are obstacles to the establishment of these clubs. In some cases, students’ attempts to establish gay-straight alliances in their schools have been thwarted by opposition from parents or school administrators who believe these clubs are inappropriate for adolescents—or even that they impose a gay agenda on students.
Under the Equal Access Act, American students have a right to establish gay-straight alliances. However, some students have found themselves embroiled in legal battles to ensure this right. To date, there have been 17 federal lawsuits in which students and parents have successfully sued school boards for denying charters or banning gay-straight alliances.
In spite of these challenges, we find it powerful to know that one of the most effective weapons in the fight to stop LGBTQ bullying is simple: youth coming together to talk, laugh, and share their lives.

How to Protect Kids from Nature-Deficit Disorder

By Jill Suttie

Richard Louv explains how parents, educators, and urban planners can help kids reconnect with nature—before it's too late.

Today’s kids spend less and less time outdoors, and it’s taking a toll on their health and well-being. Research has shown that children do better physically and emotionally when they are in green spaces, benefiting from the positive feelings, stress reduction, and attention restoration nature engenders.
No one has brought attention to this issue more than Richard Louv, co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Children & Nature Network and author of Last Child in the Woods, The Nature Principle, and, most recently, Vitamin N: 500 Ways to Enrich the Health & Happiness of Your Family & Community. Louv has written eloquently about the importance of nature for children and what they miss by spending too much time indoors. His books have inspired many parents and educators to more thoughtfully incorporate outdoor experiences into children’s daily lives.
Louv also warns about the consequences for the environment if we don’t raise children who truly have a personal relationship with nature. In our interview, he explains just how dire the problem is and how parents, educators, and urban planners can help kids reconnect with nature wherever they are.
Jill Suttie: You’ve written that today’s kids have “nature-deficit disorder.” What does that mean, and why is it important?

Richard Louv: “Nature-deficit disorder” is not a medical diagnosis, but a useful term—a metaphor—to describe what many of us believe are the human costs of alienation from nature: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses, a rising rate of myopia, child and adult obesity, Vitamin D deficiency, and other maladies.
Because researchers have turned to this topic relatively recently, most of the evidence is correlative, not causal. But it tends to point in one direction: Experiences in the natural world appear to offer great benefits to psychological and physical health and the ability to learn, for children and adults. The research strongly suggests that time in nature can help many children learn to build confidence in themselves, calm themselves, and focus.
Studies also indicate that direct exposure to nature can relieve the symptoms of attention-deficit disorders. By comparison, activities indoors—such as watching TV—or activities outdoors in paved, non-green areas leave these children functioning worse. 
Today, children and adults who work and learn in a dominantly digital environment expend enormous energy blocking out many of the human senses in order to focus narrowly on the screen in front of the eyes. That’s the very definition of being less alive, and what parent wants his or her child to be less alive?
JS: How will this trend impact pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors in kids?

RL: If nature experiences continue to fade from the current generation of young people, and the next, and the ones to follow, where will future stewards of the earth come from?
Past research has shown that adults who identify themselves as environmentalists or conservationists almost always had some transcendent experiences in the natural world. What happens if thatpersonal experience virtually disappears?
There will always be conservationists and environmentalists, but if we don’t turn this trend around, they’ll increasingly carry nature in their briefcases, not in their hearts. And that’s a very different relationship.

JS: Are there particular kinds of experiences in nature that seem to have the most impact on kids?

RL: The quality of the nature experience depends on how direct the experience with nature is. Are kids getting their hands wet and their feet muddy? These types of activities can help kids learn to have confidence in themselves and power to make independent decisions. 
One reason for this is the risk-taking inherent in outdoor play, which plays an important role in child development. Without independent play, the critical cognitive skill called executive function is at risk. Executive function is a complex process, but at its core is the ability to exert self-control, to control and direct emotion and behavior. Children develop executive function in large part through make-believe play. The function is aptly named: When you make up your own world, you’re the executive. A child’s executive function, as it turns out, is a better predictor of success in school than IQ.
JS: What can parents do to help increase caring for nature in their kids?

RL: If children are given the opportunity to experience nature, even in simple ways, interaction and engagement follow quite naturally. But parents can sometimes push too hard. Nature time should never be seen by kids as a punishment for, say, spending too much time in the electronic world.
Perhaps the best way to do this is by example. When parents rediscover their sense of wonder, so do most kids. Many parents tell me that the same kids who complained on the way to the camping trip often, when they’re young adults, recall that camping trip as one of their fondest memories—which (as you might guess) causes mixed emotions in the parents! One thing to keep in mind: People seldom look back on their childhoods and recall the best day they ever spent watching TV.
JS: How can parents help kids care about nature when they live in urban environments without ready access to wild spaces?

RL: Any green space will provide some benefit to mental and physical well-being. In urban areas, more natural landscapes can be found in a park, a quiet corner with a tree, several pots with vegetables growing outside, or even a peaceful place with a view of the sky and clouds.
Connection to nature should be an everyday occurrence, and if we design our cities—including our homes, apartments, workplaces, and schools—to work in harmony with nature and biodiversity, this could become a commonplace pattern.
Individually, we can help bring back the food chain and improve biodiversity by transitioning our yards or other properties to native species. Schools, workplaces, and city policymakers can do the same thing. We do know that the greater the biodiversity in an urban park, the greater the psychological benefits to people. Why not think of cities as incubators of biodiversity and engines of human health?
JS: What can parents do if their kids are afraid of nature or if they themselves are disconnected from nature?

RL: Many children and young adults simply don’t know what they’re missing. It’s never too early or too late to teach children or adults to appreciate and connect with the outdoors. 
Rachel Carson often said that a child’s positive connection to nature depends on two things: special places and special people. As parents and educators, we can spend more time with children in nature. We can go there with them. Taking time to do that can be quite a challenge. Getting kids outside needs to be a conscious act on the part of parents or caregivers. We need to schedule nature time. This proactive approach is simply part of today’s reality.
My new book, Vitamin N, includes 500 actions that people can take to enrich the health and happiness of their families and communities—and to help create a future that we’ll all want to go to.
Richard Louv’s new book is <a href=“”><em>Vitamin N: 500 Ways to Enrich the Health & Happiness of Your Family & Community</em></a> (Algonquin Books, 2016, 304 pages)Richard Louv's new book isVitamin N: 500 Ways to Enrich the Health & Happiness of Your Family & Community (Algonquin Books, 2016, 304 pages)
JS: What can schools do better to help kids develop an affinity for nature? 

RL: While many school districts in the U.S. are going in the opposite direction—toward less physical movement and more testing, more hours at desks or in the classroom—a counter trend is growing, toward school gardens, natural play areas, getting kids out of the classroom. We’re beginning to see the true greening of American education. In education, for every dollar we spend on the virtual, we should spend at least another dollar on the real, especially on creating more learning environments in natural settings.
Ultimately, we need to accomplish deep cultural change. We need to incorporate nature education and knowledge of its positive benefits into the training that every teacher receives. We need to credit the many teachers who have insisted on exposing their students directly to nature, despite trends in the opposite direction. Teachers and schools can’t go it alone—parents, policymakers, and whole communities must pitch in.
Recently, I visited a nature-based elementary school in a lower-income region of a county in Georgia. The school is showing more academic improvement than any other school in that county. The kids are generally healthier, as well.
We need, and I believe we see already growing, a cultural movement– what I call a New Nature Movement—that includes but goes beyond great programs that directly connect kids to nature: a movement that includes but goes beyond traditional environmentalism and sustainability, a movement that can touch every part of society. The object is to give children the gifts of nature they deserve, and for all of us to find kinship with the lives around us, and wholeness in the lives we live.
JS: What kinds of environmental education programs make the most difference in increasing a child’s connection to nature and their willingness to protect it?
 Programs that infuse education with direct experience, especially in nature, have the greatest impact. For many, the natural environment has been intellectualized or removed. Young people certainly need to know about threats to the environment, but they also need direct experience in nature just for the joy of it. Unless we achieve that balance, many children will associate nature with fear and destruction for the rest of their lives.
Too many students learn about climate change in windowless schools. While including environmental education in the curriculum, many school districts in the U.S. have banished live animals from classrooms, dropped outdoor playtime and field trips, and overloaded classrooms with computers.
Connecting our children directly to nature is a way to both deal with the impact of loss of nature and to plant the seeds, sometimes literally, of a nature-rich future.
JS: What are some more positive trends that you’ve observed?

RL: We’re seeing new appreciation for these issues among parents, educators, pediatricians, mayors, and others.
The National League of Cities (which represents 19,000 municipalities and 218 million Americans) and the Children & Nature Network announced a three-year partnership, the Cities Promoting Access to Nature initiative, to explore how municipalities can connect people with the natural world where they live, work, learn, and play. 
We also see the emergence of biophilic design of our homes and workplaces, reconciliation ecology and human-nature social capital, restorative homes and businesses, eco-psychology and other forms of nature therapy. We see more citizen naturalists, nature-based schools, the Slow Food and simplicity movements, organic gardening, urban agriculture, vanguard ranching, and other forms of the new agrarianism.
As these currents join, they’ll lead us to a different view of the future—a nature-rich future. The barriers are still there, but I do believe there’s more hope in the air, if you look for it.

How to Raise an Environmentalist

By Jill Suttie 

Helping children form an emotional attachment to nature may be key to protecting our planet's future.

We read it in the news every day. From climate change to overfishing to deforestation, it seems that we are on the brink of a natural disaster on an epic scale. If we cannot do something to reverse these trends, we will surely make our planet uninhabitable.
But how do we encourage people—especially our kids—to care more and take action?
Social scientists are beginning to look for answers to this question with some promising results. Research indicates that motivating people to care takes more than just reciting facts and making doomsday predictions. Instead, it requires promoting compassionate concern for our natural world, which comes from early contact with nature, empathy for our fellow creatures, and a sense of wonder and fascination. 
Specifically, scientists are starting to uncover how to encourage that compassionate concern in children, so that it will translate into pro-environmental behavior down the road—and this research comes not a moment too soon.

Why disaster talk doesn’t move us (and what does)

Painting a disastrous portrait of the earth’s future often causes us to simply check out. The idea of destruction on such a massive scale can either be too difficult to contemplate or seem too out of our control to motivate action—especially action inconvenient to us, like walking to work or bringing our own bags to the grocery store.
Psychological biases also play a role. When a problem seems distant or abstract, it can easily be pushed aside by more pressing, immediate concerns, like schoolwork or relationship worries.
But scientists have learned that there is a way to overcome these deterrents: developing a compassionate relationship with the natural world. Research suggests that the desire to conserve is intricately tied to our connection to nature—or the degree to which we enjoy spending time in nature, empathize with our fellow creatures, and feel a sense of oneness with nature. That emotional connection increases our sense of personal responsibility toward nature and makes us want to do more to preserve it.
For example, one study by Cynthia Frantz and F. Stephan Mayer looked at the relationship between electricity use and emotional connection to nature in dorm residents at Oberlin College. Students filled out the Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS) and other measures of self-nature connectedness, and scores were aggregated and compared to dorm electricity use.
Results showed that dorms with higher average connection to nature scores used less electricity than those with lower scores, and this difference was even more pronounced when students were given direct feedback on their electricity use over time. But dorms whose residents on average scored higher on valuing nature and supporting environmental protection measures did not use less electricity, suggesting that having an emotional connection to nature is uniquely powerful in predicting behavior.
In another study, it was students’ implicit feelings about nature that mattered the most. Students from Nanjing University in China took an Implicit Associations Test (IAT), which measured their automatic, unconscious feelings about things associated with built environments (i.e., cars, streets, buildings) versus natural environments (animals, birds, trees). They also filled out the CNS and were asked about their deliberate environmental behaviors—such as how much water they use when washing, or how often they ride a bike or walk to school rather than drive. Afterward, the students were offered a gift of tasty wafers and then asked if they wanted a plastic bag to carry them. Whether or not students asked for the bag was used as a proxy measure of spontaneous environmental behavior.
Results from the experiment showed that CNS scores did not predict results on the IAT, suggesting that our conscious feelings about nature may be different from our less conscious feelings. Scores on the IAT were linked to whether or not students took the bag (a spontaneous pro-environmental act), while CNS scores contributed most to explicit pro-environmental behaviors. The researchers concluded, “In the long term, it would be wise to cultivate people’s connection with nature, promote the emotional and cognitive tie between humans and the natural world, and increase people’s feeling of being one with nature.”
These studies and others suggest that a caring connection to nature may be an important indicator of how much we are willing to engage in behaviors to save our natural world. And that has implications for our kids.

Why kids need to get outside

Many kids today are suffering from what Richard Louv calls “nature deficit disorder” because they spend so little time there—especially kids in cities, where green spaces may be few and far between. Besides having an impact on kids’ health and well-being, this lack of contact with nature may also impact their compassionate caring for the environment.
Researchers at Cornell University found that, when children before the age of 11 spend time in nature—hiking, camping, hunting, or fishing, for example—they grow up into adults who care more about the environment than those who didn’t have that early exposure. That caring also translates into more pro-environmental behavior in adulthood, which suggests that getting kids out in nature is important if we want them to become our future environmentalists.
Environmental programs in schools are one way to do this. In one study, researchers measured 9-10 year olds and 11-13 year olds on their connection to nature (using the Inclusion of the Self in Nature Scale, or INS), then followed them through a four-day environmental education program focused on water. The program involved lessons about water and immersive, sensory-laden experiences with water, such as walking barefoot through a creek and catching and releasing wildlife in the creek.
After the program, the kids were measured again on connection to nature and compared to a group of same-aged kids who hadn’t gone through the program. Results showed that the younger children initially had higher INS scores than the older kids, but the education program increased INS in both age groups. In particular, the researchers cited the immersion activities as critical to these effects. However, only the younger kids maintained the increases in INS four weeks later, suggesting that these kinds of programs should perhaps target younger students.
Indeed, another study looking at 14-19 year olds showed that participating in a one-day environmental education program on global climate change that did not include immersive experiences in nature had very little impact on connection to nature scores.
One possible reason that spending time in nature increases children’s connection to it is that the experience feels good in some way. Research on adults has found that spending time in nature helps with what’s called attention restoration—helping the brain to recover from sensory and cognitive overload, which reduces stress and improves later performance on cognitive tasks.
At least one study with children suggests attention restoration plays a role in their enjoyment of nature, too, and leads to caring more about it. Researchers found that children in schools with schoolyards that had more natural elements reported higher levels of restoration, leading to more positive environmental attitudes. And those increased pro-nature attitudes, in turn, were tied to more pro-environmental behavior.

How to boost connection to nature

Photo by Michelle Nogales
Still, researchers don’t know exactly what it is about being in nature that impacts environmental concern and action, though many agree that emotional engagement is critical. So, how can we augment that engagement in our children?
Mindfulness may be one potential avenue. At least one study with adults has found a link between mindfulness, connection to nature, and well-being, while another found that mindfulness is associated with “green behavior.” Perhaps mindfulness allows people—and would allow kids—to pay attention to nature and appreciate it more fully.
One recent study randomly assigned undergraduate college students participating in a three-day nature trip to perform meditation (with formal practices in the mornings) or not (a control group). Before and after the trip, students were measured on their connection to nature. Compared to the control group, those who’d been in the meditation group reported greater increases in self-nature connection as well as more spontaneous recollections of trip memories emphasizing nature (rather than other aspects of the trip, such as social interactions).
This implies that mindfulness meditation may indeed help increase emotional connection to nature, perhaps by helping people be more present for outdoor experiences or by decreasing their sense of separation from nature. Though research on children is sparse, at least one study found that a program for middle school kids pairing mindfulness meditation and tai chi seemed to increase their connection to nature.
Another potential strategy for helping kids care more about nature may be to develop their empathy for animals. In at least one study with adults, instructing people to take the perspective of an animal being harmed by pollution increased environmental concern more than instructing them to be objective. Another study found that anthropomorphizing nature—assigning human-like qualities to objects in nature—increased college students’ connection to nature, which in turn impacted their willingness to engage in conservation behaviors and promote them to others.
Luckily, children naturally seem to identify with animals and nature from a young age. But parents can further encourage their love of animals by introducing them to wildlife in their area, bringing a pet into the home, or reading them stories where animals or natural objects are featured as sympathetic characters.
Though engaging kids socially and emotionally with nature may be helpful, we clearly still have more to learn about what makes kids want to protect the environment. Much of the research on this is fairly preliminary, and we are only just starting to understand how to nudge our kids in that direction.
Plus, we may need to consider cultural differences more carefully. At least one study found that people from less individualistic/more collectivist cultures are more likely to be influenced by social norms rather than individual concern when it comes to environmental action. This suggests that, in addition to augmenting our kids’ connection to nature, we may need to emphasize society’s role in influencing behavior, focusing on shared values and community efforts to protect the natural environment—especially for kids from more collectivist cultures.
Still, it seems that we would do no harm by simply making sure our kids get outside. Many studies have found that children, like adults, receive psychological and physical benefits from being exposed to nature, including better attention, self-discipline, and cognitive development, and decreased levels of stress. And helping kids to develop more mindfulness or empathy skills wouldn’t hurt either, given the research showing their positive impacts on kids.
If our kids also end up turning out the lights more or growing up to be environmentalists, all the better—for our planet and everyone who lives on it.