By now, it is no secret that children are becoming increasingly disinterested with outdoor play. This is upsetting, given the countless and timeless memories and lessons, one can take away from being in nature — especially at a young age.
Despite this phenomenon, however, hiking could stand as a great way to get your children into the outdoors; it is simple yet entertaining, and under the right circumstances, it can help set a healthy precedent for years to come.
Here are several potential ways to get your children into hiking.
Evaluate your child
As a parent, you probably know your child better than anyone. That said, take additional time to assess their interests and overall character within a hiking context. Is a hike something that they might possibly enjoy? If not, would going on a hike be unpleasant or otherwise unfavorable for them? Do they have outdoor-related allergies or similar issues that should noted in advance? These matters, no matter how minuscule, should be taken into consideration if you hope to set hiking in a positive light. Otherwise, you may quickly alienate your child and associate the experience with feelings of pressure and forced interaction.
Keep it simple
It might be a no-brainer, but be sure to ease your child into hiking by starting with simple trails and terrain. Much like the previous section, if you start off by hitting a top tier trail, you will run the risk of forging a negative association with hiking in general. Search your area for flat, generally linear trails, and carve out a portion of this area that you deem sufficient for your child.
Let them choose
If you run into issues with the former suggestion, simply let your child do the picking; they may find one trail more interesting than others, and this alone could spur their enthusiasm when your adventure is in motion.
Extend this approach to the hike itself; make it an adventure of your child’s choosing, supporting and playing along with imaginary storylines supplementing the experience. Just be sure to keep your journey grounded in reality — point out animals, plant life, and scenic features anywhere possible to make the experience educational and memorable.