With the winter chill wearing off and sunny weather on its way, this time of year is the perfect opportunity to start a family garden. There are plenty of ways your child with behavioral issues will benefit from the ongoing activity of planting seeds, tending to growing plants, and harvesting delicious fresh food.
Children with or without behavioral issues greatly benefit from being outdoors, and gardening is a great way to get your child outside in a safe, calm environment. Particularly helpful for children with behavioral issues, gardening is a great way to reduce anxiety; the garden is seen as a quiet place where they can engage in a fun activity.
Gardening also requires attention to detail and following instructions. This can be a challenge for many children with behavioral issues, and gardening can be a great way to help your child learn to follow instructions well. The act of gardening also teaches lessons in responsibility and ownership.
To create a successful garden, your child will need to pay attention to detail and use their motor skills to plant, tend to, and harvest the plants. These actions will help them build coordination and get them used to new textures.
To get started, pick a patch of land that has good exposure to the sun. If your child has outgrown using a sandbox, this can be an opportunity to give them another sense of ownership by converting it into the location of your garden.
Before you move to growing produce, it’s a good idea to start with growing flowers, such as sunflowers. These flowers grow quickly and easily and will give your child confidence in their ability to keep the garden going. Plus, the seeds can be used as tasty and nutritious snacks.
There are several produce items that are fairly reliable for being easy to tend to that produce good results including potatoes, tomatoes, snow peas, and carrots. Zucchini also grows quickly with good results, although it can be a bit more of a challenge to find a recipe that gets your child excited about it.
Make sure your child has their own spot in the garden that is their own to take care of, and that they have serious tools to work with to take care of their garden well. Walk through the process with them from start to finish but be sure that they are the main caretakers of their plants. It’s also best to start from seeds rather than sprouts, to give them a look at the whole process. With all this, it’s also okay to “cheat” at times if they are taking good care of their garden but it’s still struggling, such as getting rid of pests or doing a little extra watering.
When the produce from the garden is ready for the kitchen, be sure to give your child plenty of praise for their hard work and contribution. Your child will feel accomplished when they get to taste the results of their labor and share it with the family.
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