By Lori Lite
This week I watched my daughter plan, select, and plant a small flower garden with her friend. A few days later she and her dad planted tomato and cucumber seeds at my kitchen table. My husband and daughter side by side; two mad scientists bonding, scheming, and planting not just cucumber seeds…but seeds of joy and memories. I was so grateful for the relationship my children have with their dad. Gardening or just planting has always been his thing. It’s a great Mom thing too…but sometimes its just perfect for me to step aside and let Dad do his thing!
The National Gardening Association says that the act of gardening benefits kids’ health, well-being, and attitude towards learning. This stress reducing activity also builds self-esteem and creativity while fostering bonds with nature and family.
- Children & teens gain a sense of pride and accomplishment
- Creates bonding opportunities with parents, sibling, friends
- Reduces stress
- Gives kids outdoor physical activity
- Encourages healthy eating
- Increases responsibility
- Creates environmental awareness
- Teaches nurturing and patience
- Stimulates a desire to learn
- Increases self-belief, self-esteem and creativity
- Make it fun! Plants are resilient and gardening does not need to be perfect. Let the kids make mistakes…It will grow any way!
- Keep kids motivated. Plant some quick growing plants like corn, cucumbers, sunflowers, and radish.
- Encourage independence and creativity. Let kids make selections and plan garden or pots.
- Grow herbs. Choose a few the kids can pick to add to sauces, dips, and stews like basil and oregano. Grow lavender for its relaxation properties. Kids can pick and place fresh lavender near their pillow….ahhh….
- Encourage responsibility. Help kids create a schedule for watering and weed control.
- Indoor plants work too. No outdoor space? Don’t let that stop you.Venus Flytraps, terrariums, or a Chia pet provide similar benefits. Even a Lima Bean in a jar is magical!
- Keep it Simple…and Stress Free! Nice tips on Seeds That Are Easy to Grow!
- Lavender is a known stress reliever.
- Rose fragrance has been used to help cope with anger and grief.
- Children with ADHD benefit from access to green spaces. The greener the space the better the children’s functioning.
- Gardening reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and helps fight depression.
- A study done by Kaiser Permanente showed the brainwave activity of a gardener mirrored that of someone praying or meditating
- Children with access to green outdoor spaces play more creatively and score higher on tests of self-discipline
- Garden therapy has been adapted to almost every kind of medical situation and social service, including Alzheimer’s and Autism.
- Neighborhoods that have gardens may see a decrease in crime. Buildings with little or no vegetation compared to buildings with high levels of greenery had 48 percent fewer property crimes and 56 percent fewer violent crimes.
- Growing vegetables may even help fight childhood obesity! The American Dietetic Association found that children who garden eat more fruits and vegetables.
Our Garden of Wellness CD introduces to children to stories designed to motivate healthy eating, positive body image, and acceptance of others. Garden based visualizations and breathing empower children to use stress management techniques!
Listen to a sample of Indigo Dreams: Garden of Wellness.
Indigo Dreams: Rainforest Relaxation is full of green sounds! On YouTube!
Stress Free Kids founder Lori Lite has created a line of books and CDs designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress, anxiety, and anger. Ms. Lite’s books, CDs, and lesson plans are considered a resource for parents, psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, and yoga instructors. Lori is a certified children’s meditation facilitator and Sears’ Manage My Life parenting expert. For more information visit Stress Free Kids and for daily advice follow Lori on Twitter and Facebook.