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Fresh Air & Fresh Starts: Guiding Kids Through Divorce With Nature

Divorce can shake the foundation of a child’s world, bringing forward feelings of instability, anxiety, and sadness. Amidst the whirlwind of changes that come with the redefining of ‘family’, children often find themselves caught in a web of emotions they’re ill-equipped to handle alone. It’s during these pivotal moments that caregivers must step in with effective strategies to help their young ones navigate through this tumultuous phase.

Outdoor activities emerge as a beacon of therapeutic relief, offering more than a simple escape. They provide a canvas for emotional expression, physical rejuvenation, and mental clarity. This article explores how stepping outside opens the door to healing, detailing how the embrace of nature can significantly ease the emotional burden of divorce on children. It offers insight into the various ways in which the simplicity of playing under the sun, walking through a park, or just being amidst trees can be transformative for a child’s heart and mind.

Understanding The Stress Of Divorce On Children

Divorce often triggers a range of emotional responses in children, including confusion, guilt, and anger. Such feelings stem from the sudden shift in the familiar structure of their lives. A stable family unit provides a bedrock of certainty for children, and when that is disrupted, the fallout can be profoundly disorienting. They may struggle with loyalty conflicts between parents or harbor misplaced guilt over the belief that they may have contributed to familial discord.

Without proper support, these initial emotional responses can deepen, setting the stage for more significant issues like chronic anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems. These may manifest in various forms, such as withdrawal from social interactions, declines in academic performance, sleep disturbances, or even physical symptoms like headaches and stomachaches. The stress of parental separation can also disrupt a child’s sense of security, leading to attachment issues and a reluctance to trust others.

Proactive engagement in nurturing activities is key to mitigating these effects. By actively facilitating environments where children can express themselves and feel validated, caregivers can help them process their emotions in a healthy manner. Regular involvement in enjoyable and structured activities provides a sense of routine and normalcy amidst the upheaval. Moreover, such engagements offer children constructive outlets for their stress, replacing the chaotic internal narrative of divorce with positive experiences and interactions. It’s this strategic approach to child-centered healing that can pave the way for resilience and emotional stability in the wake of a family’s restructuring.

divorces impact on children stat

The Healing Power Of Nature

Nature’s capacity to foster healing has been extensively documented, with ecotherapy emerging as a critical discipline in the intersection of mental health and environmental science. This therapeutic approach harnesses the intrinsic properties of natural settings to promote emotional well-being, offering a peaceful respite from the often overwhelming emotions associated with divorce. The core elements of nature’s healing power for children include:

1. Stress Reduction: Natural settings have a profound calming effect. The sounds of rustling leaves, flowing water, and bird calls contribute to a decrease in cortisol levels, the body’s primary stress hormone.

The benefits of spending time in nature

2. Emotional Regulation: Engaging with nature can help children better understand and manage their feelings. The act of immersing themselves in a green space allows for a non-judgmental environment where emotions can be experienced and released more freely.

3. Improved Mood: Exposure to daylight and complex sensory stimuli in natural environments has been shown to enhance mood. Activities in the sun can increase serotonin levels, often referred to as the body’s natural ‘feel-good’ chemical.

4. Enhanced Resilience: Overcoming small challenges in outdoor settings, like a hike or a climb, can foster a sense of achievement and bolster a child’s resilience in the face of emotional challenges.

5. Cognitive Benefits: Time spent outdoors can lead to improved focus and higher cognitive functioning. Children often return from outdoor activities with a clearer mind, ready to face and process complex emotions with greater clarity.

6. Increased Mindfulness: Nature naturally encourages present-moment awareness. This mindfulness can act as a buffer against the stress of past and future concerns that often accompany thoughts about divorce.

By incorporating ecotherapy principles into activities for children coping with divorce, we can tap into nature’s therapeutic reservoir, using it to water the seeds of recovery and growth amidst the challenges of familial change.

Types Of Outdoor Activities & Their Therapeutic Aspects

1. Informal Play & Exploration: Unstructured playtime in natural settings like parks or backyards encourages children to use their imagination, fostering creative problem-solving and independent thinking. Through exploration, children can process their emotions by projecting their inner experiences onto the external world, whether by building a fort that represents a safe space or running free to release pent-up energy.

2. Structured Sports & Team Activities: Participation in sports such as soccer, baseball, or a relay race can instill the importance of teamwork, communication, and collective goal-setting. Achieving objectives within a team context provides a sense of belonging and camaraderie, which can be especially comforting when family dynamics are in flux.

3. Nature Crafts & Gardening: Engaging in nature crafts, like leaf painting or building birdhouses, directs focus toward a productive and creative outlet, offering a respite from emotional stress. Gardening activities encourage nurturing and patience, as children see the tangible results of their care in the growth of plants, which can be empowering and reassuring.

4. Adventure & Challenge-Based Activities: Activities that involve an element of challenge, such as orienteering, rock climbing, or kayaking, help children set personal goals and push their limits in a safe environment. The act of overcoming a physical challenge can be symbolic of personal growth and the ability to tackle life’s obstacles, boosting self-esteem and confidence.

5. Family-Centric Activities & Outings: Outdoor activities that involve family, like cycling, picnics, or nature trails, can provide a neutral ground for making new positive memories. Such outings allow for quality time together, reinforcing that although family configurations may change, the bond remains strong, offering consistency and support.

By engaging in these diverse outdoor activities, children can enjoy multiple therapeutic benefits that cater to their physical, emotional, and social needs. Each activity offers unique advantages that, when combined, provide a comprehensive support system aiding children through the healing process of divorce.

Practical Tips For Parents & Guardians

In aiding your child through the aftermath of divorce, the following practical tips can serve as a guide to ensure that outdoor activities provide the maximum benefit for their emotional and psychological well-being.

1. Customize Outdoor Experiences: Align activities with your child’s age, interests, and developmental needs to keep them engaged and looking forward to these moments. Use these activities to educate and inspire, transforming natural explorations into learning opportunities and chances to set and achieve personal goals.

2. Cultivate a Supportive Network: Connect with other parents to share experiences and resources, creating a community that fosters a sense of belonging and mutual support. Encourage your child’s social connections by involving them in group activities, facilitating new friendships, and normalizing social play.

3. Engage Alongside Your Child: Actively participate in outdoor adventures with your child to strengthen your bond and model a positive, proactive approach to health and wellbeing. Utilize this shared time to maintain open communication, listen to their concerns, and provide comfort and reassurance.

4. Establish Consistent Routines: Integrate outdoor activities into a consistent routine to offer stability and predictability, creating a nurturing environment for healing amidst change. Demonstrate through your own actions the importance of a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude, reinforcing these values in your child’s daily life.

Through these concentrated efforts, outdoor activities become more than just play; they transform into vital, restorative experiences that can significantly aid in your child’s emotional recovery from divorce.


Navigating the stormy waters of divorce is a complex challenge for children, but outdoor activities can serve as a stabilizing force, providing a therapeutic outlet that promotes emotional and mental health. The natural environment offers a consistent backdrop where children can project their emotions, drawing comfort from the reliable patterns and cycles of the natural world. These rhythms—the changing tides, the day-to-night cycle, and the seasonal shifts—parallel the ups and downs of life, subtly teaching children that life’s changes, like those in nature, bring opportunities for growth and renewal.

In this green space, children not only reconnect with the earth but also with family, reinforcing bonds through shared experiences and creating new, positive memories. Physical activity in the great outdoors builds resilience, while social interactions during these activities foster a sense of belonging. As such, outdoor activities do more than distract from family difficulties; they anchor a child’s experiences in something larger than themselves, offering both solace and joy, and providing a hopeful reminder that life continues to be rich with possibility and wonder.

Modern Family Law

Modern Family Law’s team of experienced family lawyers takes a compassionate approach to the practice of family law. Our experienced team of attorneys is prepared to consult with you regarding any questions related to family law matters. Using innovative technology to create an effective and efficient process for our clientele, our attorneys approach each case as a collective effort to find the best long-term solutions for each family. We understand the financial burden a family law matter can have on an individual. As such we have created our industry-first SimpleStart™ program, providing people a chance to reduce the amount of money needed upfront to start their case. For more information please give us a call or fill out a short form online to sign up for a free consultation today! Let us make a positive difference in your life.

By: MFL Team

Posted November 07, 2023

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