Your 5 1/2-year-old: Appreciating nature

Your 5 1/2-year-old: Appreciating nature

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Your 5-year-old now

There's been plenty written about how today's kids are more disengaged from nature than any previous generation. Richard Louv, chairman of the Nature and Child Network, offers some tips in the new edition of his book Last Child in the Woods that are great for 5-year-olds:

  • Keep a "wonder bowl" — a special bowl into which a child can empty her pockets of treasures found outside: leaves, blossoms, sticks, rocks.
  • Collect lightning bugs at dusk and let them go at dawn.
  • Keep a terrarium or aquarium.
  • Go camping in the backyard. Leave a tent or teepee up where your child can play during the day.
  • Plant a garden. You'll wind up doing most of the tending, but your child will love watching it grow. Choose some seeds that mature rapidly, like beans, for a quick payoff.

Your life now

What's up if the child who was once so free with hugs and kisses seems to shy away from your physical affection? Kindergartners sometimes push off their parents for a variety of reasons.

It could simply be that your child has had a bad day and is in the mood to be alone. Sometimes young kids "punish" parents who have been traveling or emotionally absent — because of work or another family member's health crisis, for example. Overwhelmed by sad feelings, they don't know how to express themselves other than by withdrawing.

Five-year-olds are also beginning to understand rejection and how it feels when friends reject them. They know you'll be pained by their rejection.

Sometimes 5-year-olds are self-conscious about public affection. They secretly still want bear hugs, just not in front of friends, to whom they want to appear to be a fellow "big kid."

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