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10 ways to use God’s glory to de-stress the child of divorce

 
 

Storegade Raised Beds

I’m always on the lookout for resources that can help us better minister to children of divorce. Right now, I’m reading Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.

This book verifies what I’ve thought for years about stressed-out children: stressed kids and children with ADHD and other behavior disorders need to be outside. Louv says they have a “nature-deficit disorder.”

Overall, kids in our world are showing more signs of stress—and for children of divorce, the stress is overwhelming.  It can interfere with schoolwork and friendships and cause out-of-control behaviors.

We’ve posted several articles about stress on the Kids & Divorce blog. We’ve even talked about two big mistakes we make with these kids. Today, I want to bring to you the idea that God’s glory in nature is a calming force for stressed kids of divorce.

What can we do to alleviate stress?

Brain researcher Dr. Pam Schiller writes in her book Start Smart, “Blues are calming and increase feelings of well-being, with sky-blue being the most tranquilizing color. When you see blue, your brain releases eleven neurotransmitters that bring relaxing calmness to the body. Greens are also calming.”

Remember being a kid and lying outside in the grass, looking up at the sky? I remember how calm I felt watching the clouds form into various shapes. It’s amazing how God orchestrated sky-blue and greens to have a calming effect. They are the same colors that little kids see when they are outside.

The youth minister in our church witnessed this calming power last spring when our church was flooded by a freak storm. The main building couldn’t be used for Wednesday night activities, so all the groups crowded into the administration building. There wasn’t enough room for the youth group, so they met in a vacant, green lot at the end of the parking lot.

Their teacher said she had never seen the teens so calm. They looked up toward the sky and at the trees as they listened. Their teacher said she could tell some students were in deep thought. Think being outside in God’s nature doesn’t affect kids?

I realize that we’re not far from the dead of winter, and for many of you, it’s just not possible to take kids outside. However, there are ways you can bring God’s beauty in nature into the church and classroom.

10 ways to bring the soothing effects of nature inside

  1. Bring several vases and bouquets of fresh-cut flowers. (You can find nice, small bouquets at big-box discount stores). Let the children feel, touch, and smell the flowers as they arrange them in the vases.
  2. Let the kids play with, touch, and feel snow and ice in a large pan.
  3. Bring snow globes, so the kids can shake them and talk about the snow outside.
  4. Bring in plant clippings. If possible, root the clippings for the kids to plant and take home.
  5. Purchase a goldfish for your class. The first child who arrives may take it home—with parental approval, of course.
  6. Share pictures of birds around a bird feeder, and make birdfeeders to hang outside on church property. If possible, have the children take the bird feeders outside and watch while an adult hangs them in trees or bushes.
  7. Play recordings of rain—both gentle, falling rain and a rainstorm—as the kids arrive. Put pictures of storms and falling rain on the walls.
  8. Make a storm in a bottle using a large bottle, water, and a few drops of food coloring. Also, put Monopoly houses, plastic trees, or other small objects inside the bottle. Glue the lid shut, shake the bottle, and watch as a vortex forms inside. This idea’s been around for years, but every time I’ve brought out the storm in a bottle, the children have been fascinated by it. Let kids make their own storm in a bottle. We do this activity in DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids), and share the Scripture, “You are my hiding place from every storm of life” (Ps. 32:7).
  9. Make a snow-day scene using water bottles filled water and glitter. With the bottle lid glued shut, the kids can shake it, turn it over, and watch the glitter gently fall to the bottom.
  10. Make a sand tray (purchase a large, plastic, kitty-litter box, and fill it with sand from the nursery section of a big-box store). Fill the tray with sand and seashells. Kids love running their hands through sand. The brightly colored shells and different-sized shells can stimulate conversations about the ocean and God’s beauty displayed in it.

I’m sure you can think of many ways to bring the outside inside. Pray about ways you can help the nature-deficit disorder child find comfort in nature.

When the weather clears, perhaps you can take the children in your class outside to read a Bible story or sing praise songs to the Lord.

What can you do to get stressed-out children to see and experience God’s glory through nature?

 

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One thought on “10 ways to use God’s glory to de-stress the child of divorce

  1. Pingback: DC4K » How to help single parents de-stress their children

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