Forest bathing, also known as ‘Shinrin-yoku’, is the practice of immersing yourself in nature by mindfully walking and sitting among trees. While the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors are well-known, there are some unique and unspoken benefits to forest bathing with children that make it an especially worthwhile activity for parents and foster carers.

Builds Stronger Bonds

One of the most powerful benefits of forest bathing with children is the opportunity it provides to strengthen your bond with them. Away from the distractions of technology and the hustle and bustle of daily life, you and your children will be fully present with each other as you explore the sights, sounds, and sensations of the forest together.

By sharing moments of wonder, curiosity, and even boredom, your relationship will grow. Laughing together at the antics of squirrels, feeling awe at the height of trees, and chatting while sitting on a fallen log all help to deepen your connection.

Promotes Calm & Concentration

The natural environment has been scientifically shown to reduce stress and promote calmness and focus. This makes forest bathing the perfect antidote to the hyperstimulation of modern life that can make children anxious or unfocused.

As your child’s senses are immersed in the soothing sights, sounds, and smells of nature, you’ll notice their frantic energy subside into tranquillity. Their attention will become less scattered as they tune into the present moment. This calm and concentrated state makes for higher quality time together.

Boosts Creativity & Imagination

The unique sensory experiences offered by the forest environment powerfully ignite children’s creativity and imagination. The rustling leaves, chirping birds, bubbling creeks and scurrying critters provide endless fodder for your child’s imagination.

You’ll be amazed at the fictional worlds they conjure up and the unique observations they make as their creativity comes alive. Don’t be surprised if your child picks up sticks to become magic wands or pretends to spot fairies in the bushes. By nurturing this spark of creativity in nature, you encourage innovation and self-expression.

If you are thinking of becoming a foster parent, forest bathing can help with building a connection to new foster children and providing relaxing, imaginative playtime.

Motivates Physical Activity

Children today spend lots of time cooped up indoors and seated in front of screens. Forest bathing provides the perfect motivation for them to get active and use their whole bodies.

Whether it’s climbing over fallen trees, balancing along ridges, crawling through hollow logs or throwing stones into streams, there are endless opportunities for moving in diverse ways. As they jump, stretch, twist, and scramble through the forest, you’ll notice improvements in your child’s strength, coordination and flexibility.

And because they’re having fun exploring, they won’t even realise how much exercise they’re getting! The fresh air and sunlight also give their immunity a boost.

Fosters Environmental Awareness

Getting children engaged with nature from a young age lays the foundations for environmental awareness later in life. As they develop a personal connection to the forest, they gain an appreciation for the interconnectedness of all living things.

So, if you’re a parent or foster carer looking for meaningful ways to spend time with children, take a walk in the woods. Their senses, imagination, creativity, immunity, and connection with nature will all be nourished.