Best time of the year. You decide to go on a hiking with the entire family. You’re halfway along your favorite trail when your six-year-old sits down on a rock. “My feet hurt,” she whines.
You sigh and get out the moleskin. “Are you drinking enough water?” you ask as you tape up her blisters
Why did you ever think it was a good idea to take your kid ? you think as you refill her water bottle. Maybe she’s too young??
While fraught with challenges, hiking with children can enrich their lives and yours. When you’re tired and frustrated on the trail, remind yourself of the many benefits for your children:
-Hiking can be parent-child bonding. It is a special activity to do with your children. Getting away from all the stress of everyday life gives you a chance to talk to your kids about their interests and dreams, not just what they want for dinner or this week’s homework assignment.
-Hiking provides a hands-on learning experience. Bring a field guide or two and have fun identifying the birds and plants you see with your child. Some field guides will tell you about the traditional edible and medicinal uses of plants. If you’re hiking in the American Southwest, you might pass archaeological sites. Hiking can be a great way to learn about nature and history as real things instead of just words in a book.
-Hiking is great exercise. Helping your child develop a lifelong habit of exercise is one of the best things you can do for his or her health. It is a fun, exciting outdoor activity that doesn’t require expensive classes.
-Hiking helps encourage appreciation of nature. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, argues that nature encourages imaginative, creative play, and experiencing nature is an important part of childhood. Kids who see nature firsthand grow up to respect and love the world around us.
-Hiking challenges kids. It can be a physical and mental challenge for kids, and completing a trail may give them a sense of satisfaction and increase their self-confidence. Just be careful to choose trails that are an appropriate difficulty level for your child–not too hard or frustrating.
Tip For Hiking With Kids
Introducing your children into your fitness routine is a lot easier than you might think. With all of the jogging strollers and children’s bike seats on the market today, there is almost always a way to bring your child along if you exercise outdoors.
An extremely simple and enjoyable activity that you can do with your child is hiking. If you were a hiker before, you may have to change your expectations a bit. You will not be able to go as far or as fast, but it can be a very rewarding and fun experience for both you and child.
Children view nature differently than adults do; not only are they younger and more innocent about the world, but they are also closer to the ground so they see different things than we see.
Put some thought into what you will bring along on your hike. First, Whether or not you want to invest in boots is probably a decision you will want to make after you judge your child’s reaction to the first hike.
If you have very young children you will want to invest in a child carrier that you can attach to your body, over your shoulders. The child will rest in a seat that leans against your back as you walk. He or she can easily see out over your head to enjoy the hike with the rest of the family.