Childhood connection to nature has many benefits but is not universally positive, finds review

August 06, 2020

The review, published in the British Ecological Society Journal People and Nature, is the first to focus on nature connection in children and adolescents. In the article Dr Chawla comprehensively reviews the full scope of literature on the topic, covering peer-reviewed articles, books and studies by environmental organizations.

The review finds that connecting with nature supports multiple areas of young people's wellbeing. "There is strong evidence that children are happier, healthier, function better, know more about the environment, and are more likely to take action to protect the natural world when they spend time in nature." said Dr Chawla.

Several studies found that children's connection with nature increased with time spent in natural environments. Time spent in this way was also a predictor for active care for nature in adulthood. These findings support strategies and policies that ensure that young people have access to wild areas, parks, gardens, green neighborhoods, and naturalized grounds at schools.

However, a connection with nature is not universally positive. "My review shows that connecting with nature is a complex experience that can generate troubling emotions as well as happiness." said Dr Chawla.

"We need to keep in mind that children are inheriting an unravelling biosphere, and many of them know it. Research shows that when adolescents react with despair, they are unlikely to take action to address challenges."

Thankfully the review finds that there is overlap in the strategies used to increase children's feelings of connection with nature and supporting them with difficult dimensions of this connection.

These strategies include helping young people learn what they can do to protect the natural world, as individuals and working collectively with others, and sharing examples of people who care for nature. Research covered in the review finds that young people are more likely to believe a better world is possible when friends, family and teachers listen sympathetically to their fears and give them a safe space to share their emotions.

One of the most surprising findings from the review was the complete disconnect between researchers studying the benefits of childhood connection to nature and those studying responses to environmental threats. "People who study children's connection with nature and those who study their coping with environmental risk and loss have been pursuing separate directions without referencing or engaging with each other." said Dr Chawla. "I am arguing that researchers on both sides need to be paying attention to each other's work and learning from each other".
-end-


British Ecological Society

Related Emotions Articles from Brightsurf:

Why are memories attached to emotions so strong?
Multiple neurons in the brain must fire in synchrony to create persistent memories tied to intense emotions, new research from Columbia neuroscientists has found.

The relationship between looking/listening and human emotions
Toyohashi University of Technology has indicated that the relationship between attentional states in response to pictures and sounds and the emotions elicited by them may be different in visual perception and auditory perception.

Multitasking in the workplace can lead to negative emotions
From writing papers to answering emails, it's common for office workers to juggle multiple tasks at once.

Do ER caregivers' on-the-job emotions affect patient care?
Doctors and nurses in emergency departments at four academic centers and four community hospitals in the Northeast reported a wide range of emotions triggered by patients, hospital resources and societal factors, according to a qualitative study led by a University of Massachusetts Amherst social psychologist.

The 'place' of emotions
The entire set of our emotions is mapped in a small region of the brain, a 3 centimeters area of the cortex, according to a study conducted at the IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, Italy.

Faking emotions at work does more harm than good
Faking your emotions at work to appear more positive likely does more harm than good, according to a University of Arizona researcher.

Students do better in school when they can understand, manage emotions
Students who are better able to understand and manage their emotions effectively, a skill known as emotional intelligence, do better at school than their less skilled peers, as measured by grades and standardized test scores, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

How people want to feel determines whether others can influence their emotions
New Stanford research on emotions shows that people's motivations are a driving factor behind how much they allow others to influence their feelings, such as anger.

Moral emotions, a diagnotic tool for frontotemporal dementia?
A study conducted by Marc Teichmann and Carole Azuar at the Brain and Spine Institute in Paris (France) and at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital shows a particularly marked impairment of moral emotions in patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

Emotions from touch
Touching different types of surfaces may incur certain emotions. This was the conclusion made by the psychologists from the Higher School of Economics in a recent empirical study.

Read More: Emotions News and Emotions Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.