I was talking to a 7 year old recently who was feeling exceptionally overwhelmed. Her school life, academically and socially, had been challenging and her older brother had been teasing her a lot.

Even when we played in my office she maintained a solemn tone.

She told me that her favorite thing was to stay home and watch TV, expressing that she wanted to do that all of the time. I asked if she ever had fun outside of the house and her eyes suddenly brightened. “The park,” she said with an unexpected smile on her face.

It was a vivid reminder about how important it is to take children to parks as often as possible. The combination of nature, space and play can brighten almost any mood.