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Combating NDD: What You Need to Know

Bug's Life educational building toy

Does your child have NDD?

It’s a serious disorder and is affecting more and more children across the entire world.

Symptoms include:

  • Pale skin
  • Lethargy
  • Perfectly clean fingernails
  • Absence of dirt anywhere on body
  • Inability to recognize any wild animals

Yes, NDD, or Nature Deficit Disorder as it’s known in its long form, affects far too many children, but there is hope. With the right treatment, you can reverse the effects of NDD easily.

We’ve collected some insight from various experts about fighting against NDD and we share it with you here in the hopes that no child should ever have to suffer from this truly terrible ailment.

Here are what five experts suggest for getting kids outside to combat NDD:

Click-A-Brick Bug's Life educational building toyLauren Knight - Parenting Columnist for The Washington Post

Lauren says combating NDD has to start with the parents. That’s why she suggests parents instil curiosity in their children by being curious themselves. As Lauren puts it, the most important part of making nature a priority for your child is to give them the gift of enthusiasm. Remember that you yourself are probably just as much of a learner as your child, so explore together.

Click-A-Brick Bug's Life educational building toyPatrick Barkham - Natural History Writer for The Guardian

Patrick’s small children love the little bugs, worms, spiders and caterpillars they find outside. He recommends allowing children to get acquainted with insects (while obviously keeping them safe). If children pick up on parents’ fears or anxieties, they might adopt them as their own. He also suggests having a planned time to go outside, but don’t worry too much about planning what to do, as kids are often good at coming up with things to do.

Click-A-Brick Bug's Life educational building toyHenry W. Art - Author, Woods Walk

Being outside isn’t just about looking at stuff, Henry reminds us. It’s about touching, smelling, listening and sometimes tasting what’s out there. He suggests bringing a magnifying glass or some binoculars to get a close up look at stuff. But also listen to the birds, feel the different types of bark, eat some wild berries (if you recognize they’re safe for eating, like blueberries or wild strawberries).

Click-A-Brick Bug's Life educational building toyRichard Louv - Author, The Nature Principle

Nature doesn’t need to be experienced on days-long camping trips (although that’s good, too). Even just short jaunts outside to a local park, a copse of trees at the end of a cul-de-sac or to a ravine by your house. There are little bits of nature to explore even in the biggest of cities and it doesn’t take much for kids to connect with nature. A few regular strolls down whatever trails you have nearby throughout the week will do wonders for them.

Click-A-Brick Bug's Life educational building toyAngela Hanscom - Pediatric occupational therapist and the founder of TimberNook, which focuses on nature-centered developmental programming in New England

Angela tells us that children are increasingly having to attend therapy for sensory deficits because they are being coddled too much and told not to run, jump, climb and get dirty. All of the fun stuff kids do isn’t just for fun, it’s helping them develop the very senses that they’ll need when growing up.

Here, we’re not talking about sight and smell, we’re talking about senses as in their sense of balance, their sense of space and their general body awareness. She recommends sledding (when and where possible), walking barefoot in the woods and rolling down grassy hills as activities that will help children develop a healthy sensory system.

Being outside isn’t just fun, it’s important for kids to combat NDD. Get out there and get reacquainted with nature. You and your kids will both benefit! Together we can stamp out Nature Deficiency Disorder.