Finding Relief for My Child's Mental Illness in the Woods

March 17, 2021 Sarah Sharp

I don't know why, but being a parent feels so much easier when the sun comes out of hiding, and everything starts blooming again. It's springtime, and I'm relieved, so is my child's mental illness.

That's partly because we've been taking walks in the woods. It might sound mundane, but something powerful--even spiritual--happens to us among the trees and dirt and boulders. We leave all our frustrations and difficulties at home to go to the park and find so much more.

And if I'm being honest--which is what Life with Bob is for--I'll go crazy and drive my kid crazy if we just quarantine at home. So to the woods we go, where we both have so much to learn.

Nature Tames My Child's Mental Illness and Helps Him Find Himself

In her book Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting, Laura M. Ramirez talks about how children find their identity in nature. This is a principle I've always tried to integrate into my parenting style, but recently, what with my child's mental illness manifesting itself more and more, it's become a staple in how I raise him. 

If my child grows up knowing who he is, maybe his mental illness doesn't have to impact his life in such a negative way. If he's familiar with and accepting of his own strengths and limitations, then he can take control of his fate instead of letting his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) take the wheel. He can feel comfortable with himself and have faith in himself because he knows who he is. 

I Am the Keeper of My Child's Mental Illness

Ramirez also talks about how we are the keepers of our children--of their hearts, minds, futures, growth, bodies, emotions, spirits, and everything else that makes them unique little human beings--until they're grown enough to be their own guardians. I'll take it a step further, though: I think I am the keeper of my child's mental illness, as well. It's my responsibility to help my child manage his mental illness until he can do that for himself.

How I handle my child's ADHD will shape how he copes with it in adulthood. If I can help him see how calming a long hike through the trees can be, maybe that will become one of his coping mechanisms when he's a man. That might be just the tool my child needs to keep his mental illness under control, even when I'm not there to guide him.

Do you like to take walks with your child? Does being in nature seem to ease her mental illness? Let's talk about it in the comments. 


  1. Ramirez, L.M., Keepers of the Children: Native Amerian Wisdom and Parenting. Walk in Peace Productions, 2004.

APA Reference
Sharp, S. (2021, March 17). Finding Relief for My Child's Mental Illness in the Woods, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Author: Sarah Sharp

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