Connecting with nature can help kids have better behavior and social skills

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DENVER -- On Earth Day, it's a good day for parents to remind their children to think about ways their actions can impact the earth.

But with so many distractions such as tablets, smart phones and video games it can be hard for parents to get their children outside.

However, according to a recent study, connecting with nature can help our kids’ brains in return. The study surveyed nearly 500 families of young children between the ages of 2-5.

Parents answered questions about how much their children enjoyed nature, whether they had empathy and responsibility towards nature, as well as their overall awareness of nature.

Researchers found not only did the children who were more connected to nature have better moods and behavior, but they also showed less stress, and had better social skills.

“What has been shown, is kids who are able to spend more time outdoors and connect with nature, tend to be happier and better behaved,” said Kate Eshleman, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, who did not take part in the study.

Dr. Eshleman said having children spending more of their time outdoors offers many benefits for their overall health.

“There’s dual benefit to spending more time outside,” she said. “The first, is increasing their physical activity, connecting with nature; and being educated about things outside of a child’s self. Also, the more time a child is outside, the less time they’re spending inside, performing sedentary activities.”

Dr. Eshleman reminds parents that they can greatly impact their child’s habits when it comes spending quality time outdoors.

“It’s really up to the parent to put a limit on screen time and indoor activities and to encourage that time outside together; and the best way to encourage it is by modeling it, so, go outside together as a family,” she said.

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