Prevent Nature Deficit Disorder: Garden with Kids

photo by Theresa Becchetti

Happy Face Plant!

Seems like kids aren’t kids for long. Most are glued to a phone texting (girls) or a computer video game (boys) before they are 10. Don’t get me wrong, I think technology is really great and all, but I feel sad that so many children miss out on the wonder of dirt.

Looking back on my life, I can honestly say that my fondest memories involved dirt. Whether squishing my toes in mud, planting a garden, or digging for topaz, dirt was “the bomb diggity.” Or at that time “absolutely radical.”

The girls in these photos have an amazing mom who lets them play in the dirt. In fact, she actually encourages it!! They are never scolded for getting their clothes dirty. Or picking up bugs. Or digging holes. Or not eating their vegetables (they like vegetables because they help grow them).

In February, Izzy and Maggie found out they could not make “Snow Angels” because there was no snow. Undaunted, the girls decided to make “Dirt Angels” in their backyard.  This is creativity at its best!  These girls will most definitely NOT be diagnosed with Nature Deficit Disorder. Sadly, this disorder is a real phenomena, not a joke.

If you’ve never played in the dirt before, I hope you’ll consider acquainting yourself with its fabulous properties. If you know a child who has never “met” dirt, help them out. As you read these words, you should feel a sense of urgency. Quick! Hurry! Locate some dirt! If you don’t have a yard,  surely you must know someone who does? Call and ask if you can borrow their yard. Or get some pots at a yard sale and plant something. Buy some hand trowels too. You’ll soon realize that digging in the dirt comes quite naturally to kids. Children ages 2-5  can’t be stopped once they start digging. Buy cheap seeds at the end of a season, and don’t worry if kids plant them too deep. You can always plant more later.I guarantee you’ll be cured of everything that ails you within the first hour of playing in the dirt.

Happy Digging!




  1. Love this post! It’s so true– dirt is AWESOME. When I become a mother I will let my children play freely in the dirt! As long as they don’t bring it into the house 🙂

  2. So glad I stumbled upon your blog this morning… love the smiley face. What an awesome idea for our grandkiddos.

  3. I have done quite a bit of reading on this very topic, especially in relation to Autism and special needs. I have found that children today are in fact deficient in many of the natural benefits of nature play and learning. Even though my husband and I are in an apartment, we try very hard to ensure that the kids get outside and play, and that they understand the importance of nature and growing things. They are enjoying our deck garden that we have begun! 🙂 Thank you for your post. I’m enjoying reading your blog!

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