The Influence of Nature on a Child’s Development: Connecting the Outcomes of Human Attachment and Place Attachment

Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Amidst a growing social movement to connect children to nature, little is understood about how children actually attach to place or the role of nature in shaping place attachments. While place attachment is an undertheorized concept, human attachment is well understood. In the chapter, an exploration of human attachment provides clarity of the potential outcomes of place attachment.

Both forms of attachment focus on the strength of the attachment of an individual to an external entity, a caregiver, or a place in the physical environment. The secure base function of secure human attachment mirrors the home range function of place attachment. In both concepts, children venture away from the object of attachment only to return in times of stress. Secure human attachments also foster the development of an internal working model in which a child mentally organizes behavior to solicit a desired response. The strength of the model predicts the quality of future relationships. Currently no research links the development of an internal working model to place attachment. Secure human attachments also foster resilience in that children are better able to respond to and cope with stress. Secure place attachments are linked to the presence of nature, social bonding, and emotional and cognitive processes. This is consistent with emergent resilience research with children which suggests that nature can play an important role in fostering resilience. Nature thus may be a defining feature of place attachments that help build resilience.


Place attachment Human attachment Resilience Internal working model Secure base Home range Nature Childhood 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Environmental StudiesCalifornia State University Monterey BaySeasideUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Karen Malone
    • 1
  • Iris Duhn
    • 2
  • Marek Tesar
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Educational ResearchWestern Sydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Education, Peninsula CampusMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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