I have listened to a lot of people lately complain about their kids and how all they want to do is sit in front of screens. Ironically while these people are telling me about their “lazy” kids, they are checking their phones and physically, appear to be the indoor/ couch type of person. I am extremely tired of hearing how lazy children are these days when their supposed role models are no better. Kids will imitate those they spend the most time around. If you are an active individual they too will be active.
Likewise, if you are lazy and you show them that technology is the most important activity to spend their time on, well they will follow suit. Having your kids be active as soon and often as possible is paramount. Start off small and keep it going. You don’t have to plan some fancy trip to the mountains for a week straight. All kids really want is attention and consistency. My kids were going through a phase where they enjoyed pirates.
Related: Get Your Kids Outside
So, I got a hold of a bunch of old half dollars (non-silver) and various other coins and planned treasure hunts. I would hide the “treasure” in the yard or at park and then make up a treasure map. Be creative and don’t make the map too difficult to read. I drew mine with crayons or markers, added various landmarks that they would easily identify and added a North, South key on it.
I took it one step further to make the map look older by rubbing used coffee grinds all over it and crumpling up the paper. Sometimes they would have trouble finding their way and I would make up very simple riddles or clues for them to figure out. This simple activity got my kids outside, introduced them to reading a map, used their imagination and they had an absolute blast with this game. I found what works with my kids so they enjoyed this activity and now they ask to go on treasure hunts all the time.
Learning how to fish is not only fun (in my opinion) but is a critical skill to learn. From my experience, my kids got bored pretty quickly when I first took them fishing. I found they stayed interested in the process much longer when we were catching fish. The easiest way to accomplish this is by not fishing for the biggest fish in the pond but rather, fish for the little ones. I would always find a spot on shore where I knew I could dip and pull little Bluegills and Sunfish out of the water with regularity.
When my kids knew they could get their own fish they wanted to completely take over the process and soon they were sitting next to me doing everything themselves. As they get older make the fishing experience more challenging. Instead of using a store bought pole have them make their own from a tree branch or have no pole at all. I found what works with my kids to make fishing fun and now they ask to go all the time.
I first took my kids camping in my mom’s backyard. They helped me sent up the tent, laid out the bedding, collect firewood, and sorted out all of the other particulars. It was important to me that they didn’t rely on just a tent for shelter so we made other types of “forts” to play in. We used a tarp and other natural materials to create different kinds of structures that could be used for shelter. I had them do everything when the time came to create a fire. Creating a scavenger hunt to find the materials kept them interested in the process.
I gave them a very small Old Timer knife to scrape tinder and cut small twigs. Once the ingredients for the base of the fire were ready I had them use a lighter to get the fire going. When they saw that little flame grow and grow into a warm life giving fire, their eyes got as big as silver dollars. This made the frustrating process of them using a fire rod much easier as they had the knowledge and drive to see that fire again. I found out what works for my kids and now they want to go camping, they want to learn different methods for starting a fire, they want to create their own shelters.
What I found most interesting with my kids were the questions they would come up with on their own. I was not introducing them emergency situations or prepping but getting them involved in outdoor activities and skills that many don’t become involved with anymore. As time went along the questions they had were prepping and emergency situation related. “Dad, what happens if you can’t get food from a store?” “Dad, what do you do if you get hurt and no one is around?”
I fostered these questions and treated them gently like a small ember of a fire. Never doom and gloom the situation until you have to. You have to find what works for your kids to keep them interested and having fun. I used the same methods as mentioned above to teach them gardening, food storage, self- defense, navigational skills and the list goes on. You are the adult, you are the role model, you not only have to show them (and yourself) how to take the first step, but how to keep putting one foot in front of the other in the pursuit of a more fulfilling, skillful lifestyle.
Power down all the empty, time consuming aspects of your life and get involved. Sometimes teaching others is easy and sometimes it makes you want to hit your head against the wall. One of the most important aspects to teaching others I have found, is that I learn just as much, if not more, from those I am teaching. Get out there and remember, have fun!