How do you get more out of being together in nature with your (highly sensitive) child? Experiences and tips that are attainable for everyone.
The effect of nature on (highly sensitive) children is immense. You see sides of your child that you see less in daily life. Nature nourishes the soul, brings insights to the surface and stimulates a child to develop further. The green is good for them! And ourselves too.
A few years ago I was on a beach on the Maas with my children and another girl. The girlfriend had a difficult home situation at the time. As she waded through the water, I could literally see a load fall off her.
Her energy changed, she softened and came to her core: instead of being directed outwards, towards others, she was one with herself. A beautiful moment, almost magical. That’s what nature does to us. The effect appears to be even stronger in children. And for highly sensitive children, staying in nature is essential.
Children come to their core
Nature fulfills needs in a child that are less met in daily life. Children who are busy remain busy in the daily structure. And quiet, withdrawn children often remain on their own.
In nature, everyday frames disappear. Which offers the busier child the opportunity to experience his peace. He or she is no longer influenced by stimuli from others or situations. They have the peace and space to BE.
In children who are withdrawn from everyday life, I see a tough, enterprising side emerge: running through the tall grass, climbing trees, “fighting with sticks”, exploring. In nature they feel safe to explore their own limits.
You can support this process by going to an open area. “Open”, in the sense of as few fixed paths as possible. In an area where a child can determine his own way. The environment meets the needs of a child and invites action or rest. And let your child be “the boss” for a change: they can determine the direction, how long you stay in one place, etc. For most children this is a special experience. And for adults too!
Nature initiates inner processes.
I regularly experience that wisdom comes to the surface. I continue to be amazed by the wisdom children tell when they stay in nature. What they say comes from another part of them and shows a deep wisdom. About themselves, the people around them, the world, the universe…
The perception is different in nature: a meadow full of dandelions triggers more in them than a few dandelions in the residential area. This taps into deeper feelings in them.
They discover similarities between what they see in nature and their own lives or that of family members. They make contact with trees and have an eye for details.
In a meadow full of flowers, have your child choose flowers that resemble the family members. Which flower resembles papa: a large exuberant or a small modest flower? And do they choose flowers that have already fully opened or are they budding flowers? In this way, children show how they look at the people around them.
I am convinced that the colors in nature also have a positive effect. The intense green of a meadow with brightly colored flowers is nourishment for the soul. When the sky is also a clear blue, this brings about a contact with the deeper layers within us. These bright colors have a lot of yang energy and we need it to recharge us.
In addition to the colours, you will find other elements in nature that are often lacking in the home: organic shapes and space. This also has a deeper effect on us. It often happens that children say little while they are outside, but that processes are set in motion in them. Later on, they tell you things you haven’t heard before, sometimes with a spiritual touch.
Living in the moment
Children are very good at “being” in nature, a great exercise in being mindful. Where we as adults are often inclined to move mainly from a to b, children have an eye for detail and the need to stand still now and then. Listen to that, stand by and share what you experience with each other.
How does the tree feel? Do you only feel the bark or can you also feel the energy? Or follow the path of an insect: on which flowers does it go, which way does it choose between the leaves? And take a closer look at the animal. I myself once saw a slug climb a thin blade of grass. I still wonder how it is possible. The wonders of nature are countless. We are part of that, we are wonderful too!
Dare to allow feelings
Nature creates space. Space to let deeper feelings, thoughts, doubts and insecurities float to the surface. And to discuss it. Outside, in the green, children experience these feelings and thoughts as less oppressive.
In a positive environment, children experience them as less heavy, nature gives confidence. That makes it easier to express painful feelings.
Many children talk more easily when they don’t have to make direct eye contact with you. I see this especially in highly sensitive children.
Lie down together on a rug, looking at the sky. Just like your child, climb the tree and sit on a comfortable branch. Your child is probably on a higher branch. From this position they often feel safe, safe also to share feelings.
And sometimes kids don’t tell at all. That’s fine too. Being in nature with your child strengthens your bond on an energetic level. As a result, a child is more likely to share feelings or problems with you at another time.
Letting go of energy
Nature gives children the chance to let go. I will never forget my experience with a little girl who surrendered to the energies that were available. She snuggled against me on the blanket and sighed, releasing energies that got in the way of her daily life and that made her irritable and restless.
After that she was all cheerful and that effect was still noticeable afterwards. She was enabled to discharge on an energetic level. This creates space to move more easily through daily life and to be able to concentrate at school.
I also notice it with my youngest highly sensitive daughter when she has been in nature. The energy in her flows again, she is more active and cheerful. Highly sensitive boys often have some kind of energetic armor in daily life, complete with “armor” and “swords”. They perceive the outside world as hostile and have developed their own way of keeping it at bay.
They pretend to be tough and, literally, hit around. To protect themselves. In nature they let this go and they don’t have to be tough. You see their being change: they become softer and there is more peace. Their beautiful loving core emerges. By experiencing this in nature, it becomes easier for them to let go of their energetic equipment in daily life little by little.
I can do this!
Nature offers children the opportunity to use their qualities in a different way than usual. I remember a girl who wanted to pick blackberries. A few blackberries were further away, but she was determined to get them. And she fished them out of the bush with angelic patience. She was very careful and didn’t get pricked.
Which was quite unusual, given the diagnoses made based on her busy behavior and her difficulty concentrating. In this way you can see how circumstances also determine behaviour. Her calm was beautiful to see, as was her perseverance. She could not find this peace at school, because of the stimuli around her.
It is special for a child to experience that they do have certain skills, just in a different way. Especially for children who are experienced as problematic by adults, it is good to discover hidden qualities of themselves. And that these are seen and named. Appreciation for who they are is essential for all children.
a different perspective
In nature you can teach your child to look from a different perspective: when you look up from the ground, those little flowers suddenly look like giant flowers. And marvel at the infinity of the sky.
You may see special images in the clouds.
In everyday life it is occasionally necessary to look at events from a different perspective. It helps if your child has experienced this in a playful way.
When you go out with a child as a parent or other adult, you will certainly be rewarded with a “present”.
As a parent, we are all different. Whether you prefer to lie in the grass with your child or climb trees together, discover what suits you as a parent. And experience the influence of being together in nature on your bond.
Nothing is “right” or “wrong”, making the effort to go out together makes a huge difference. Trust that energy will flow, whether you talk a lot or a little. Have no expectations, everything is good!
A few tips, from my own experience:
Let the child go his own way as much as possible. Safety comes first, but release them where possible. When children feel your trust, it strengthens their self-esteem. Climbing a tree? Fine, keep an eye out.
Try to talk little, but give your child the opportunity to talk if he needs to. When you become quiet yourself, you give your child the opportunity to express deeper feelings. You can also chat at home. Experiencing silence has added value.
Try to BE in nature yourself. So not on your phone or anything like that. Good example is good to follow. If you are “available”, you give your child the opportunity to connect with you.
After being outside, create one or more quiet moments. The energy that has started to flow in nature can then find its sequel. It is nice if you also have a quiet moment with your child afterwards. So that, if necessary, it can tell you what he or she would like to share.
And perhaps most importantly, don’t think too much about it. You don’t have to think about what you’re going to do in advance, just let happen what wants to happen. Precisely by having no expectations, energy can flow and you make it possible to create what is needed.