About the Author

Richard Louv is Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, an organization supporting the international movement to connect children, their families and their communities to the natural world. He is the author of eight books, including "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" and "The Nature Principle." In 2008, he was awarded the Audubon Medal.

“HUMMINGBIRD PARENTS”: Seven Actions Parents Can Take To Reduce Risk And Still Get Their Kids Outside

imageParenting advice can go to extremes.

Regarding outdoor play, some experts sternly warn parents about all the dangers, real or assumed — from strangers to noxious weeds – lurking outside the front door. At the same time, parents sometimes find themselves shamed for their fear.

“With all of the talk about giving kids leverage and freedom from a very early age, you start to feel guilty when you help your kids,” writes guest blogger Michele Whitaker in Bethe Almeras’ terrific blog, The Grass Stain Guru. “I hate to admit it, but fear and anxiety are definitely factors,” Whitaker writes. It’s hard not to be consumed by that fear, given the horrendous reality of crimes against children. Yes, it’s true that the number of abductions and child murders has been decreasing in recent years, and our perception of danger is amplified by media hype. But parental fear is real. It should be respected and not dismissed.

Even with this fear, most of us want to make sure our children have as much independent play as possible, including play in the natural world, for their healthy development.

Some parents will be comfortable encouraging their kids to roam freely, but the truth is most won’t. So here are seven suggestions for ways to manage our fear, reduce risk, and still get our kids outside.

1. Take your kids outdoors. If we want our children or grandchildren to experience nature, we’ll need to be more proactive than parents of past generations. When my wife and I raised our boys, we certainly felt the fear, and they didn’t have the freedom to roam that we did. (That’s Kathy and Matthew Louv in the photo.) But our sons did experience nature — in the canyon behind our house, building their forts, digging their holes, sitting under a tree coated with butterflies, all within our eyesight. We took them hiking, and I took them fishing, often. And we tried to stay out of their way so they could explore on their own.

2. Be a hummingbird parent. Whitaker suggests, “In the range from helicopter to neglect—I probably fall a bit more toward helicopter. In fact, I call myself a hummingbird parent. I tend to stay physically distant to let them explore and problem solve, but zoom in at moments when safety is an issue (which isn’t very often).” Notice that she isn’t hovering over her kids with nature flash cards. She stands back and makes space for independent nature play — albeit not as free as she experienced as a child, this play is important nonetheless.

3. Teach your child to watch for behaviors more than for strangers. That’s the advice of family psychologist John Rosemond. Telling a child to stay away from strangers is relatively ineffective. ‘Stranger’ is not a concept young children understand easily, he maintains. Instead, children ought to be taught to be on the lookout for specific threatening behaviors and situations. Also, get to know your neighbors. Create a play-watch group and ask fellow parents to sit on front stoops or porches or lawns several hours a week; that way, they are available at a distance as children play.

5. Create or join a family nature club. Nature Clubs for Families are beginning to catch on across the country; some have membership lists of over 400 families. The idea is that multiple families meet to go for a hike, garden together, or even do stream reclamation. We hear from family nature club leaders that when families get together, the kids tend to play more creatively — with other kids or independently — than during single family outings. C&NN’s Nature Clubs for Families offers a free downloadable guide on how to start your own.4. Develop a walking/activity buddy system. Encourage kids to do nature activities together. It’s cheap and grassroots based, suggests Juliet Robertson, a nature play specialist in Scotland. If there were agreed times and routes then folk could meet up and walk together or bike together. Some young people are creating their own kids’ nature clubs.

6. Take back the trails. On C&NN’s online discussion group, which is a great place to talk with other parents and learn about the movement (Ken Finch of Green Hearts offers a good essay on this topic there, too), Patty Born Selly makes this suggestion for dealing with fear: The best thing we can do as a community is to take back our trails — slowly, over time, we will reach a tipping point of sorts. The more people are out there, using our parks, using our trails, enjoying our natural areas, the more our collective comfort with this sort of thing increases.

7. Get the safety information you need. Become familiar with good resources for safety tips in the outdoors, including those with information on how to guard against ticks. One such site is the Centers for Disease Control Web site. The Web site for the Audubon Society of Portland offers excellent general information on living with a variety of urban wildlife.

Does our fear often border on the irrational? Sure. But nobody said that parenting itself is completely rational. If it were, scientists would be raising our kids. In labs. With control groups.

Yes, there are risks outdoors (though not nearly as many as the news media would have us believe), but there are huge psychological, physical and spiritual risks in raising future generations under protective house arrest. Child obesity is just one of them. So, rather than giving in to those fears, we need to give our children the appropriate freedom they deserve. And we also have to come up with new, safe ways to get our young people and ourselves outdoors. Parents can’t do this alone. Communities and organizations need to help. But for families, these seven actions are a start.

I’ll close here with another bit of wisdom from Michele Whitaker: “Common sense needs to rule on this issue. Are helicopter parents bad for caring so deeply about their kids? Certainly not. Will their children be scarred for life? No. Should parents back off and let their kids take reasonable risks? Yes!”

Additional Resources:
•  C&NN’s Nature Clubs for Families: free toolkit for starting your own.
•  Nature Rocks: tips for taking your children outdoors.
•  “Last Child in the Woods” with 100 actions for families and communities
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Follow Richard Louv on Facebook and @RichLouv on Twitter

Richard Louv is Chairman Emeritus of the Children and Nature Network and author of “The Nature Principle” and “Last Child in the Woods” from which some of this piece is adapted. This post was originally posted on Sept. 20, 2010.

 

 

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Comments (41)

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  1. Ken Finch says:

    Good article, Rich, and thanks for the call-out (you must have forgiven me for that bad pun the other day…).

    I love Bethe’s “hummingbird parents!” I sometimes use a similar concept that I refer to as being lifeguards — i.e., adults watching over kids’ nature play, but not intervening until/unless there is actual danger. This seems to work especially well with parks and rec people, who are used to the lifeguard concept but have never thought about applying it to nature play.

    You’re right that parents’ fears must be respected; their perceptions are reality to them. But there’s a fine line between respect and validation. I think it’s important to educate parents — gently — about comparative risks — e.g., that their kids are at much greater statistical risk riding in the family SUV than they are while playing in the woods. It’s important to begin changing those perceptions by helping parents realize how much their fears are driven by the haze of unfamiliarity and media coverage, rather than by reality.

    Thanks for all you do!

  2. Thanks for a great essay-food for thought here!

  3. Thank you for a wonderful post. We struggle all the time with wanting to be able to let our preschoolers take on challenges – both in our preschool environment and in the neighbouring bushland – and with the restrictions imposed by regulations. Supporting children in taking risks in early childhood is so important in the building of resiliance and self-esteem, not to mention the benefits to their physical development.

    How do you tell a 4 year old that they can’t climb a tree to a height of more than 30cm off the ground?

  4. Richard Louv says:

    Terrific concept: lifeguards. Nature Lifeguards? Thanks, Ken.

  5. collegestudent says:

    This is a interesting thing to publish since now a days it seems like children don’t have any time to do this; Since so many people send their children or child to different activity that are planned out from sport teams, school and camps that are often so supervised. That it doesn’t even seem like kids really have time to go and explore on their own in a true open space. There is always way more adult eyes on children now a days that most understand or realize because, of our social and time spent with our children or lack of.

  6. Great article – how can I go about getting permission to re-print this article in our school newsletter?

  7. Ronda Voorhis says:

    More parents need to be exposed to this concept. I just ordered Louv’s book at the urging of a friend who is an Outdoor’s writer. I was telling him about the responses I got after assigning my college students to go without technology i.e. their cell phone, iPod and Facebook for 6 hours and write about the experience. They were also to go outside and take a walk in nature. One girl wrote that she saw stars for the first time. She had always been too scared to go outdoors at night before. One guy decided to take up golf after walking by the golf course. Most wrote that this was the hardest thing they had ever done in their life. Period. They didn’t know how to “waste their time” for 6 hours. They were jittery and had mini-withdrawal symptoms. One said she couldn’t stand not listening to her iPod because silence to her was like a loud scream. We truly have raised a generation of people who have severe nature-deficit disorders. I think it’s a major cause of attention deficit disorders too.

  8. Richard Louv says:

    Susan, you may reprint it; just please include the information about C&NN and “Last Child in the Woods”, and links. This of course helps us. Thanks very much.

  9. Keri says:

    I’ve been a naturalist for 10+ years. It’s so great to find the ballance between keeping kids safe, showing and teaching them about their environment and surroundings, and letting them self direct and explore. Here are some of my guidelines that may be helpful for others when figuring out how to set boundaries outdoors:
    1. Check things out yourself first and then be clear about how far they may wander off
    2. have a clear stop now and come back signal such as a whistle or wacky sound
    3. help them learn what posion oak and ticks look like so they can explore and keep themselves out of it
    4. if you want to climb a tree it first needs to have thick branches, then you walk over to the tree stretch your arm up and high five the tree. Where your hand reaches is the highest point you can climb to. This keeps little ones lower to the ground and gives them time to practice climbing before they go any higher
    5. If you can see me I can see you please stay where you can see/hear me/the campsite/house etc.
    6. always ask before eating things in nature
    7. if you’re not sure don’t do it or ask first

    Hope that helps.
    :-)

  10. SquiggleMum says:

    Such fabulous advice from two of the world’s leading advocates for children + nature. Love the term “Hummingbird parent” Bethe! I’ll quote you on that :-)

  11. John Lattke says:

    This is more challenging in the tropics. As head of a research station in a cloud forest I enjoy taking my daughter there to see, touch, smell the richness of life along the trails next to the station. It is hard to keep too far away from her while she is wandering about but inspecting the trail ahead is important. I will look out for unfriendly plants, stinging arthropods and poisonous snakes. Her cries of delight when a butterfly crosses her path or a hummingbird buzzes by are wonderful.

  12. Becky Jaine says:

    Dear Mr. Louv, Thank you SO much for the wonderful work you are doing and the “back to nature” movement you have inspired. I read your book a couple years back and it really got me concerned about the future of our society if we DON’T change and connect with nature.

    My children and I are working to inpire families to temporarily (and completely) disconnect from technology to make something together, often inspired by nature. They rarely watch TV and would much rather play outside than just about anything. Thank you for the wonderful ideas!

    Time will tell, and time will heal. I wish many blessings to you and your team!

  13. Leticia Ruiz says:

    Thank you for recognizing that parenting is a tough job. I too would be considered a hummingbird parent. As my children are beginning their early teen years, they are looking for a little more independence and it’s hard to determine how much to give. I do believe we need to be vigilant but not at the cost of our children’s health. Luckily my daughters junior high has started a hiking club and that way can she can hike with friends, instead of her boring old mom and dad, and I don’t have to worry because she is in a group. There are ways to strike a balance and I am glad that we are becoming more aware of the need for it.

  14. Shobana Anbazhagan says:

    I think that both the term “hummingbird parent” and its definition are very clever. Unfortunately, not every parent “stands back and makes space” for their children. In my experience, my parents rarely let me go out with friends or by myself. Instead, they hovered over me, and if anything, controlled me. They warned me not to talk to strangers, and taught me how to take advantage of the buddy system, I was never really allowed to do much in nature. When we went on our evening jogs, they wouldn’t let me stop and smell the flowers, or climb my favorite tree. Usually, when I went out, I was with my mother or father, and all of my moves were being photographed. My cousins, on the other hand, were raised with full freedom. Where would you draw the boundary between being a careless parent and a “hummingbird parent”?

  15. Larissa Gatt says:

    As a young adult still living with her parents I feel that watching your childs every move and trying to control them out of your own fears is the worst way of parenting. If you are too protective of your kid’s you will just push them away and push them into worse things you can barely imagine. The “humming bird” technique sounds like the best way. To “hover” over keeping a good distance not go close but also not to far away is a good way to be. Also, when your child grows up you need to learn to let go more and more rather you want to or not. The tighter you old them the easier it will be for them to pop out of your hands and put into a worse situation.

    (this post is for school, no feedback please.)

  16. Idacyte MaBon says:

    Richard you hit the nail on the head when you said that “there are risks outdoors (though not nearly as many the news media would have us believe), but there are huge psychological, physical and spiritual risks in raising future generations under protective house arrest…..rather than giving in to those fears, we need to give our children the appropriate freedom they deserve”! I think that the media has us all afraid to let our children out of our sights or cell range. Although times are a lot different from when we were children, our children deserve to experience the simple things in life that don’t require electricity to function!

    I recently completed reading “Last Child” and from the beginning, it made me take an introspective look at my parenting and what restrictions came along with it. I have since made a conscientous decison to loosen the reigns and allow free play to enter our lives. Needless to say, I have received 1 phone call from the school this year because of behavior problems. That is an earth shattering event for me since I was so used to hundreds! I remember racing the street lights home and I am excited to say that because of your novel, my children are racing them home too!

  17. Angelique Preston says:

    Richard, I can definitely agree with parents “hovering” by their kids when it comes to nature. For me as a child, spending time in nature was easy as long as I was with my dad. With my mom however, it was a different story. Whenever I would go to her house she would hardly ever let me go outside. She was so worried about me getting kidnapped or something which was ridiculous because we lived in a court and knew all the neighbors. She was just extremely over protective. My dad is who I lived with most of my life so I have gotten my fair share of memories in nature (which I’m grateful for). I really think it is important for kids to have unstructured time in nature. I would probably be a really different person without my memories in nature.

  18. Florence Commodore says:

    I just completed the reading for your book, “Last Child in the Woods” for my English class. It was only then I realize how my being a “hummingbird parent”,has affected my children’s experience with the outdoors in a negative way.I was one who always thought that something bad would happen to them if I am not physically around to supervise and now the boys see the outdoors as being unsafe.My parents allowed us to roam freely, so I had constant contact with nature, unlike my kids.Though it is not too late to get them more “connected with natue”, I just wished that the knowledge I now have after reading your book, that I had it while they were still very young.

  19. Melissa Cowsar says:

    I agree with all of these other responses when they say that, Louv you are doing some remarkable work. I would not be surprised if you are remembered always as being one of the Kings who spearheaded the “back to nature” movement. Being a new mom to an eight month old girl, your book and topic pulled me in. I really enjoyed the fiction story you included with the girl who lived in the futuristic, earth-friendly community. What an amazing life that would be. I wish you and your success all my blessings.

  20. Cristian G. says:

    If only my mother had read this article when I was still a kid. She did a great job of raising of me, but I would have definitely preferred her to be a “hummingbird parent” rather than the “helicopter” that she was. She was always telling me of the terrible things that happen to children and how they can happen to anyone. She made it seem as though if I went to the park I’d be likely kidnapped. Luckily at a very young age I realized that she was very paranoid when it came to my safety. I knew she was coming from a good place but I felt as though I was missing out on a lot of experiences. When I got to high school she eased up a lot and I had a lot of freedom. I spent many weekends camping with friends and almost every day after school I’d take hikes through a nearby trail. I was trying to make up for lost time. I believe if parents follow at least one of your suggestions children will be able to have experiences that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. If we can just open the door to nature for them at a young age we might be able to start a lifelong relationship with nature for them.

  21. Hiba Rahman says:

    I’ve come to realize that restrictions and fears that parents impose upon their children actually keep them from experiencing a true childhood. I also think children are heavily impacted by the way their parents interact with nature. What I mean by this is that, if a child see’s his parents running away out of fear from a dog, then the child will replicate the same interaction when the dog approaches him.

    From reading your book, Mr. Louv, I have learned the unfortunate reality that nature is slipping away from the lives of children- but not just them, even adults. There aren’t enough “hummingbird parents,” but instead we’ve got a society filled with micromanaging parents. I am a product of micromanaging parents; my father was always open to me exploring nature, but my mothers constant fear of me getting hurt bounded me to my room much of the time. Though I am grateful for her concern, I honestly wish I could have experienced more nature in my younger years. I’m doing my best to make up for lost time now and though it is a tad difficult, every tiny breakthrough helps me appreciate life and the ability to live more and more. I haven’t gotten very far yet, so Mr, Louv, do you happen to have any suggestions on how to enhance my nature reconnect?

  22. Kaitlynn says:

    After reading your book, Last Child in the Woods, I have been completely convinced of the extraordinary importance of nature on a child’s development. I was already aware of this importance but the examples and ideas presented throughout your book were definitely eye openers to how significant nature is in one’s life. I find it sad that todays generation and generations to come face this loss of connection with the natural world as the technological world flows in and takes over. Although technology shoulders much of the blame, the parents who provide this technology are to blame as well. There are many different parenting scenarios which will alter or effect their child’s experiences with nature but in shorter terms, parents can either be too protective of their child’s safety or they can not even acknowledge this importance due to busy and rapid lifestyles. Because of this, I feel that parents play a huge role in getting their kids active and eager to play in nature. More parents should be exposed to your thoughts and hopes for future generations in order for the change to begin.

  23. Sukhjit Singh says:

    The term “hummingbird parent” could be very powerful if parents actually take part in nature with their kids. But not every parent has the opportunity to because of work load or other reasons. However, in my early childhood life experience I always missed my dads absence for 10 years while I was still back in India with my mom and my dad came to US in 1989. My mom didn’t let me out and was always controlling and stopped my from going out. However, as I was old enough to go out by myself I was allowed to with limited restrictions while my neighbors kids and friends parents allowed them to go out and play freely. In my experience, it was totally a different until I came to US in 1999, with my mom, brother, and sister. Things changed, I started going to school and they allowed me to go out and play. What I learned was I understood why my mom didn’t let me out because she was by her self to take care of three kids. Now that we all together I had the full freedom to be independent.

  24. Marcus Jones says:

    I believe that the humming bird routine that you yourself believe you are is the best way to go. Watching over a kid is more than just seeing everything they do and not letting them venture out on their own. Children need that space to be able to learn just as their parents did when they were children. It is a tough situation because you want to be there for your kid and keep them from making mistakes but that is what it’s all about. Now stepping in when you sense certain danger is fine because that just comes with the territory. Kids will be kids no matter what but as long as you keep a good balance I believe that they will be just fine.

  25. Mark Mercer says:

    As a teenager I really appreciate my parents giving me my space and stepping in when it is necessary. Letting me experience life and learning from my own mistakes has really helped me mature. I can’t always count on my parents to bail me out of my mistakes and wrong decisions, and I think this is something parents should realize. I think what Louv says, “Yes, there are risks outdoors (though not nearly as many as the news media would have us believe), but there are huge psychological, physical and spiritual risks in raising future generations under protective house arrest”, every parent should read.I can’t explain it but when your parents are constantly in your business it gets annoying and you seem to find more trouble. When parents loosen up their grip i feel more responsible and less prone to trouble. Being locked in your rooms playing video games or watching television on a regular basis does kids no good. It gets to the point where it is so bad you are not able to do homework in your room cause you are constantly teased by technology. Since I began reading “Last Child in the Woods”, my eyes have really opened up to the importance of experiencing nature especially in early childhood.

    I find the teaching your kids to watch for behaviors rather than strangers interesting as well. As a child it is very easy to get confused on who is a stranger, i would have to agree that knowing the situations and unusual behaviors is an easier concept.

  26. Emily O'shea says:

    I agree with the advice of becoming a “hummingbird parent.” It is always important to let children explore freely without the hovering parent over their shoulder. While keeping a comfortable distance in case of rare danger issues, they can enjoy and appreciate the benefits of playing outside. “Hellicopter parents” neglect the importance of idivisualism and problem solving skills which can be harmful in the future.

  27. Andrew Ulang says:

    It is interesting to see in today’s generation how parents feel about letting their children outdoors. Like what you talked about in your blog, the media has definitely played a role in putting fear into parents’s minds and it is controlling how much time kids actually get to spend outdoors. Your list of seven actions are a great way to start to ge this fear out of people’s heads. The actions are pretty simple too. My favorite of the list is probably the first action you listed: “take your kids outdoors”. It’s a pretty straight-forward way to get kids outdoors, especially those who have not really spent time outdoors. It’s a great a way to get kids to learn how to be outside in regard to fun, as well as safety. And in time, they would learn how to “explore on their own”.

  28. Joseph Sabile says:

    Mr. Louv, you have great information in regards to promoting children to stay outside and play. I believe in our society in present, has transformed significantly and many parents are frightened to leave their kids outside. The seven suggestions you gave to manage our fear, reduce risk and still get our kids outside are great actions towards connecting with nature. I remember when I was a little kid; my mom would rather prefer me to play video games rather playing outside with other kids around my neighborhood. This presently demonstrates how our society has change towards children connecting with nature and as a result we tend to isolate our children with people and the natural environment. I think we need to change the way we approach fearfulness towards our children with strangers and find ways to help our children connect with nature.

  29. Tee Nance says:

    The “Hummingbird parent,” a parent who doesn’t “stand back and make space.” My parents were complete opposite, well not completely. I mean, my mother let me do whatever I wanted, as long as she knew where I was. At times I would hate having to tell her where I was. But as I grew older I realized that if something were to ever happen to me, she would know and not have to worry about where I was. Don’t get me wrong I was told “no” and I was still disciplined and followed their rules. My whole family’s little saying is “My house, my rules.” I also believe that, for them not constantly hovering over me like the “Hummingbird parent,” our relationship is great.

  30. Ranjit Kaur says:

    I really like the concept of “hummingbird parent”and how it states that its important to spend time with their children and explore the outside world.It gives the children time to learn and spend outdoors and learn more about whats going on.It is very important for parents to spend time with their children so they have someone to look after them and also help them.Its not always to good to stay too close with children because there could be a situation where they want to be left alone and not wanting to stay with their parents.It’s even right that when parents hold their kids very strictly they tend to get influenced to go out into bad situation and that leads them into trouble.It would be best to let your children spend time alone when they want to rather then pushing them into spending time with you.

  31. Benjamin Hong says:

    This seven step process serves as a great skeletal structure of what we should proactively be undertaking for the sake of future generations. I have just recently finished your book Last Child in the Woods, and I understand the seriousness of getting our younger generations outside. This article is great for parent’s who just don’t understand how much their children just need to be let free to explore and let their imagination run wild. This concept of a humming bird parent is real easy to grasp especially when combined with step three. As a teenager and older brother of younger siblings, I usually tend to want to stay inside on my computer and laptop. But as of late, it’s not that much harder to just take some time off and not supervise, but just watch over the safety of the kids playing. I find that parent’s are significantly more protective over their children as opposed to an equally responsible older sibling of the younger child. As a teenager, I fully understand risks and know what is dangerous and what is not. I can draw that line more easily, because I am current with the potential dangers that lie within a specific area as opposed to the dangers that have been in the area over a long period of time. But for those families who do not have the time to be that “hummingbird parent” I agree that it is essential to find some kind of program, friend(s) , or club for that child to join. The results of over sheltering a child can produce much harsh realities than just obesities. As I learned from your book, it can lead to social disorders/behaviors which none of us wish upon any child or person.

  32. Elizabeth says:

    Hello, I heard you speak on the Australian ABC radio. Thanks for putting a name to and describing a very distressing situation. I wonder if it also afflicts us during adult life – after years of computer and office work which altho’ in an area I enjoy – agriculture – I really wonder if I can go on with it (physically) much longer even though I live in a beautiful natural setting outside an urban area.

    As a child we weren’t supposed to be inside unless we were eating or sleeping! If found watching TV during the day my father would turn it off saying ‘There is plenty of daylight outside’. Fortunately we grew up on a farming and grazing property so could work with our father if we wished and roam around the place doing what we liked. New cubby houses were made each week end, there were dams to explore, fruit trees to eat from, vegie garden to check, haystacks to climb, animals to watch, rain to get caught in, yabbies to catch, centipedes and scropians to find under logs, bird nests to raid, neighbours to visit by riding your bike 2 km to their house and lots of farm activities – burning off stubble being very exciting. Our parents rarely know where we were or what we were doing – all 7 of us – we just had to turn up for meals. The only place we weren’t supposed to be was on the roof of the house – but we got up there too. And we weren’t to swim in the dams as dad couldn’t swim so he left a large pole at the dam where we spent the most time at incase someone fell in. Cheers

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  35. Thanks for such a helpful article. Many of my blog readers struggle with how to get their kids more connected with nature as well as how to give them enough space that they’re comfortable and the kids feel independent. They don’t want to helicopter, but they’re not ready to go completely free-range, either. The Hummingbird analogy is perfect for them. I see a lot of shaming parents for being on either end of the spectrum, which doesn’t help anyone. I think the answer is helpful suggestions to allow parents to connect their kids to nature while taking calculated risks that ease them out of their comfort zones. Thanks Mr. Louv!

  36. Mark says:

    I want to take my two girls (3 and 4) outdoors more, but for whatever reason, I’m petrified of ticks and Lyme disease. We live in Virginia and ticks are on the rise. I sometimes feel trapped by the potential of a bite only because I don’t want some terrible long-term impacts to harm my kids. We can search for ticks all we want, but that can be arduous after every visit outdoors. They’re not cloistered, but I’d be hard-pressed to go on a hike in a local forest. Thoughts? Thanks.

  37. Sonya Nicol says:

    Great article! As a teacher of children aged between 3 and 5 we know how important nature is to children and how children need to take calculated risks and they themselves can and will assess risks for themselves. In our playground we have a huge man-made creek bed which we have made as natural as possible to reflect the Australian bush.It has steep sides and quite slippery rocks and the children can pump their own water down to make a small flowing creek. The children soon learn how to negotiate the ‘tricky’ areas and how to get down into the creek bed safely. Yes, occasionally they trip and slip and scrape but it builds resilience, safe-risk-taking and problem-solving.
    After seeing Richard In Australia a few years back we started a nature group where we take the families on walks every few months on a weekend as well as visiting natural spots as a class.

  38. Jody Branch says:

    Wonderful article! Nature and exploration is so important to us as a family everyday. Just a couple of days ago we discovered ladybugs waking up from their winter nap and yesterday we splashed through spring puddles! When we travel, we always look to the natural wonders. This year we plan to fly to Yellowstone National Park to camp for a few days! It’s so great to see more people embrace nature again!

  39. kathryn pizzo says:

    Thank you for this, I have just been subscribing to your FB feed a couple months and love it. I have always gotten my kids outside a lot and just recently joined one of your family groups! Awesome stuff.

    This past week, my two girls and I were playing in the woods near a park. My 7 year old stumbled upon something and called me over, she was frozen and pointing at something. There was a hand gun on the ground in front of her. She did exactly the right thing- didn’t touch it, called an adult over. I took the gun to my car and locked it in the back, and took it to an indoor shooting range nearby. Turned out it was a paintball gun, but looked very “real” and dangerous, especially to a kid. I was proud of my daughter, and it was a great, if unique, lesson, on what you may find in the woods!

  40. Lisa Hopper says:

    Beautifully written!

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