A review finds a connection to nature is complex, as well as positive emotions, it can generate negative emotions linked to issues like climate change
The review, published in the British Ecological Society Journal People and Nature, is the first to focus on nature connection in children and adolescents. In the article Dr Chawla comprehensively reviews the full scope of literature on the topic, covering peer-reviewed articles, books and studies by environmental organizations.
The review finds that connecting with nature supports multiple areas of young people’s wellbeing. “There is strong evidence that children are happier, healthier, function better, know more about the environment, and are more likely to take action to protect the natural world when they spend time in nature.” said Dr Chawla.
Several studies found that children’s connection with nature increased with time spent in natural environments. Time spent in this way was also a predictor for active care for nature in adulthood. These findings support strategies and policies that ensure that young people have access to wild areas, parks, gardens, green neighborhoods, and naturalized grounds at schools.
However, a connection with nature is not universally positive. “My review shows that connecting with nature is a complex experience that can generate troubling emotions as well as happiness.” said Dr Chawla.
“We need to keep in mind that children are inheriting an unravelling biosphere, and many of them know it. Research shows that when adolescents react with despair, they are unlikely to take action to address challenges.”
Thankfully the review finds that there is overlap in the strategies used to increase children’s feelings of connection with nature and supporting them with difficult dimensions of this connection.
These strategies include helping young people learn what they can do to protect the natural world, as individuals and working collectively with others, and sharing examples of people who care for nature. Research covered in the review finds that young people are more likely to believe a better world is possible when friends, family and teachers listen sympathetically to their fears and give them a safe space to share their emotions.
One of the most surprising findings from the review was the complete disconnect between researchers studying the benefits of childhood connection to nature and those studying responses to environmental threats. “People who study children’s connection with nature and those who study their coping with environmental risk and loss have been pursuing separate directions without referencing or engaging with each other.” said Dr Chawla. “I am arguing that researchers on both sides need to be paying attention to each other’s work and learning from each other”.
more recommended stories
Stay in touch with your emotions to reduce pandemic-induced stress
Managing stress during the pandemic
Teens diagnosed with depression show reduction in educational achievement
Loss of potential: teens diagnosed with.
Expand school digital literacy lessons to cover health technologies used by young people
Young people are accessing digital health.
Children who have difficult relationships with their mothers are clingy towards teachers
USA based researchers found that these.
Getting children to eat their greens? Both parents need to set an example
A positive example set by both.
Love matters: How parents’ love shapes children’s lives
Parents often put their own relationship.
Sitting still linked to increased risk of depression in adolescents
Young people who are inactive for.
Short, intensive training improves children’s health
Short periods of intensive training motivates.
Children’s mental health is effected by sleep duration
Important associations identified between sleep duration.
Brain networks come ‘online’ during adolescence to prepare teenagers for adult life
How different regions of the brain.