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An Old Fashioned Remedy for ADHD

I read a great article in this month’s Parenting magazine about Nature Deficit Disorder. In it the author mentioned a study published by the American Journal of Public Health that found that exposure to nature reduced ADHD symptoms in children.

In this study they had children do typical weekend or after-school activities in three settings, indoors, outdoors in a built setting (like a blacktop area without much greenery), and outdoors in a mostly green setting. Then their parents rated their abilities on things like following directions in comparison with what was normal for that child. The results of the outdoor built setting were better than indoors. The results of the outdoor green setting were even better. It appears that the results were measured in the first hour after the activity. I would love to see further study on how long the results last.

Even without further study, though, this information could be useful to parents. Getting outdoors is inexpensive and good for all kids whether or not they have adhd. In fact, there’s a lot of discussion about what adhd is and even whether it’s real. For a ‘treatment’ like this, it doesn’t matter. If your child has trouble concentrating or completing tasks, is easily distracted or can’t sit still, try getting them more green outdoor time. There are no harmful side effects. If it helps even a little, you’re ahead.

Here are a few ideas to get you started. Maybe your children can come up with more.

  • Have kids walk or ride their bike to school, preferably through an area where they can see trees, grass, rocks and other cool stuff.
  • Set up a fun spot in your back yard where you child can go to read, play or maybe even do homework.
  • Hang a hummingbird feeder outside your child’s bedroom window.
  • Open the windows so your child will see the great outdoors sometimes even when they’re inside.
  • Put houseplants in the house, maybe even in your child’s room.
  • When you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon, head to one of the many wilderness areas in Orange County.
  • Sign your child up for one of the many children’s educational programs offered by these nature centers or sanctuaries. Don’t forget to allow some extra non-structured play time before or after class.
  • Join a club that does a lot of outdoor activities, like Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts or Indian Guides.
  • Don’t let poor weather stop your child from playing outdoors. Get rain boots and jackets, or just accept the fact that they’re going to get wet and muddy. They can clean up when they’re done.