I’m always on the look out for resources that can help us better minister to the child of divorce. Currently I’m reading, “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv. What is interesting about this book is the fact that it verifies my thoughts I’ve had for years about stressed out children. Stressed kids and children with ADHD and other behavior disorders need to be outside. He says they have a “nature-deficit disorder”.
Over all kids in our world are showing more signs of stress – all kids, but for children of divorce stress is overwhelming. It can interfere with schoolwork; with forming friendships and can cause their behaviors to be out of control.
We’ve posted several articles about stress here on the Kids & Divorce blog. We’ve even talked about 2 big mistakes we make with these kids. Today I want to bring to you the idea of God’s glory in nature being a calming force on kids of divorce and their stress levels.
What are some things we can to alleviate stress?
Brain research by Dr. Pam Schiller in her book, “Start Smart” says, “Blues are calming and increase feelings of well-being, with sky-blue being the most tranquilizing color. When you see blue, your brain releases 11 neurotransmitters that bring relaxing calmness to the body. Greens are also calming.”
Remember as a kid lying outside in the grass and looking up at the sky? I remember how calm I felt. I remember watching the clouds form into various shapes. Amazing how God orchestrated sky-blue and greens to have a calming effect and they are the same colors that little kids see when they are outside.
Last spring our church was flooded by a freak storm. The main building could not be used for the Wednesday night activities so all the groups had to crowd into our administration building. There was not enough room for the youth group so they had to meet at the end of the parking lot next to a green vacant lot. One of their teachers said they had never seen the teens so calm. She said they were looking up toward the sky and looking at the trees as they listened. She said you could tell some of them were in deep thought. Think being outside in God’s nature doesn’t affect kids?
I realize we are in the dead of winter and for many of you it’s just not possible to take kids outside. However, there are ways you can bring God’s beauty in nature into the church and or classroom.
10 Ways to bring the soothing effects of nature inside
- Bring in several bouquets of fresh cut flowers and some vases. (You can find nice small bouquets at big box discount places). Let the children feel, touch and smell them as they arrange them in the vases.
- Let kids play, touch and feel snow and ice in a large pan.
- Bring in snow globes to shake and talk about the snow outside.
- Bring in clippings from a plant. If possible root them for the kids to plant and take home.
- Purchase a goldfish for your class. First child arrives is the one that takes it home – with parent approval of course.
- Have pictures of birds around a birdfeeder; make birdfeeders to hang outside on the church property. If possible have the children take the bird feeders outside and watch while an adult hangs them in the trees or bushes.
- Have recordings of rain – both gentle falling rain and a rainstorm playing when the kids come into your group. Provide pictures on the walls of storms and falling rain.
- Make a storm in a bottle using a large bottle, water and few drops of food coloring; put in monopoly houses, small trees, etc. Glue lid shut and watch as you shake the bottle and a vortex forms inside the bottle. This idea has been around for years but every time I have brought out the storm in a bottle, kids are fascinated by it. Let kids make their own individual storm in a bottle. We do this activity in DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids) and add the scripture, “You are my hiding place from every storm of life.” Psalm 32:7
- Make a snowy day scene using water bottles filled water and glitter. With the lid glued shut kids can shake the bottle, turn it over and watch the glitter gently fall to the bottom.
- Make a sand tray (purchase a large kitty litter plastic box and fill with sand from the nursery section of a large big box store). Fill the tray with sand and seashells. Kids love running their hands through sand. Brightly colored shells and different sizes of shells can stimulate conversations about the ocean and God’s beauty in the ocean.
I’m sure you can think of many ways to bring the outside inside. Pray about ways you can help the “nature-deficit disorder” child find comfort with nature.
When the weather clears perhaps you can take the children in your class outside to read the Bible story or sing praise songs to the Lord.
What can you do to get stressed out children to see and experience God’s glory through nature?