Nature Helps Kids Build Skills and Character by April Thompson A movement is afoot to get kids grounded in nature. Wilderness awareness programs, also known as primitive skills or Earth-based education, teach life-changing survival skills that build courage, compassion and camaraderie. “We help youth experience a true aliveness in nature. Kids gain knowledge of the outdoors and increase awareness, confidence and self-reliance, while having fun, positive experiences,” says Dave Scott, founder of the Earth Native Wilderness School, in Bastrop, Texas.
Digital media abuse can have lasting developmental impacts, according to Kardaras, author of Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Hijacking our Kids and How to Break the Trance. DrKardaras.com cites numerous studies on the effects of such intensive use, from increased prevalence of attention deficit disorder to higher rates of depression. Brain imaging studies from institutions such as the medical schools at Indiana University and University of Utah have shown how heavy exposure to digital media has effects on the brain similar to substance addiction…
Peer pressure and body consciousness are universal challenges facing teens and their parents. Experts find that by modeling healthy habits and maintaining open lines of communication, adults can help foster healthy independent thinking and responses to inevitable situations.
Whether it’s playing dress-up, making forts from sofa cushions or drawing pictures, creative moments can define and distinguish a happy childhood. Yet it’s not all just fun and games, according to experts. Childhood creativity, nurtured both in the classroom and at home, is crucial for developing qualities such as sound decision-making, flexible thinking and mental resiliency.
The plugged-in, stressed-out world that challenges adults can be even more difficult for teens in the throes of hormones, peer pressure and a selfie culture. Parents can help their children thrive and become empowered individuals by nurturing desirable character traits such as resourcefulness, resilience, perseverance, self-reliance, independence, empathy and social competence.
Child psychologist Michele Borba, Ed.D., of Palm Springs, California, is a former classroom teacher and the mother of three grown children who dispenses advice at MicheleBorba.com/blog.
American fatherhood has evolved considerably in the last 50 years. While dads used to be kept out of the delivery room, today, more than 90 percent of new fathers are present for their children’s birth, reflected in MenCare Advocacy’s State of the Worlds’ Fathers. However, being there early on does not necessarily define the scope of future involvement. Overcoming obstacles that might keep men from being the “high-five” dads they and their family need them to be is key.
For parents serving in the military, some of the biggest barriers to involvement are inevitable and often repeated deployments. Dads returning home often struggle to reestablish both their family role—which changed while they were away—and their relationships with children they haven’t seen for months and who may not even recognize them. Here are practical tips to counter any estrangement.
In her latest book, Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits Of Our Everyday Lives, happiness expert Gretchen Rubin fleshes out the needed details. She maintains that the shift into a happier way of being can be as simple as changing our habits, which she terms the invisible architecture of daily life. Rubin found, “We repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily, so our habits shape our existence and our future. If we change our habits, we change our lives.”
We can start small in sometimes surprising ways that encourage personal, family, workplace and community well-being.