Updated: Jun 24, 2021
Convincing your teen to ditch their phone and come dig in the flowerbeds with you may seem tough, but if you provide the opportunity, the right tools and encouragement, your teen might just love it.
Here are a couple of ways how gardening can increase your child’s mental health:
1. Plant Care Fosters Responsibility
Whether it’s flowers or vegetables, caring for plants helps teenagers develop responsibility, critical thinking, organizational skills, and empathy and teamwork. They also gain a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence as they raise small sprouts into full blooming beauties. Your teen gardener will get to experiment and learn what is best for each plant and experience the benefits of their efforts over time. Same for vegetables. These can be great long-term projects for teens which can foster responsibility and self-esteem. This can lead away from instant gratification that we might too often chase after nowadays towards more beneficial long-term efforts and rewards. Have your teen help weed the garden, prune shrubs or water plants. Plants can also be a great tool for bonding with aloof kids or help teen siblings connect in a way that doesn't involve arguing.
2. Gardening is Good for Psychological Well-Being
Plants are often used as a therapeutic tool to help improve mental health. Horticulture therapy is used in many therapeutic programs to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, it can promote productivity and attention span. By choosing well-planned activities and actions, teens can increase their self-esteem and confidence and connect with others through teamwork. Research shows that spending a few minutes outdoors surrounded by grass, trees and plants can boost a teen’s ability to concentrate. Gardening offers healthy doses of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. Sowing seeds or planting seedlings require movement (which translates to some exercise). Teens are likely to become so engrossed in their work that they don’t even realize the physical aspect of gardening.
Let's talk now more about how to turn your garden into a therapeutic activity.
Here is how you can get started:
1. Dedicate a small portion of the yard to a family garden.
Have each family member pick a favourite plant that grows well in your climate.
2. Have your teen grow their own food.
Teens that grow food, even if limited to one tomato plant in a container on the patio, are more likely to enjoy eating healthy. Tasting the fruits of their efforts often inspires them to eat more healthily in general.
3. Keep it fun.
Instead of becoming too serious about the chores that no one wants to do, practice constructive praise and motivation. For example, have them grow the ingredients needed to make pizza or salad and tell them how well it tastes with those freshly grown herbs or vegetables.
Here are some ideas to integrate gardening in your kids' school.