Approximately 1 out of 3 children engage in physical activity every day.
Now, no one needs to school us on the importance of staying physically active, but we do need to set a good example for our kids and encourage them to stay physically engaged. All things considered, hiking with kids is arguably the best way to exercise and have some outdoor fun as a family.
Yes, yes, I hear you. Your kids have no intention of leaving the comforts of a warm, cozy room and stepping outdoors with their "boring" old parents, of all people.
Well, here are 7 things you can try to make all your future family adventures more fun for everyone involved.
1. Plan Together
Let's face it, as parents, we can be a bit obsessed with micro-managing our little family trips. The uncomfortable truth is if you want your kids to get the most out of these outdoor adventures, you might have to include them too. You can, of course, retain your veto power, but do let them take charge of little things like creating a first-aid kit, or helping you plan the route.
Be open to their suggestions, take their ideas into consideration and allow them the responsibility of handling little tasks.
2. Build Up the Excitement
There's nothing kids love more than the anticipation of something exciting. So, go ahead and talk your hike up! Tell them about all the adventures you've had on previous hiking trips, talk about all the waterfalls you're going to encounter, the birds you're going to see and the little springs you're going to find.
Excitement is contagious; you're kids will pick up on it.
3. Add Some Tasty Snacks to the Mix
The promise of good food is an invaluable asset to any parent; use it wisely. Now, I'm not suggesting that you arm yourself with chocolates, candy and all things junk, but do try and incorporate a few "treats" into your picnic basket. What are a few, universally loved, family favorite treats?
Carry these along with you, and they'll serve as another thing to look forward to during the hiking breaks.
4. Throw in Some Friendly Competition
Who says treasure hunts and family games are out of style? There's still a lot of fun to be had with good old classics like I spy or 20 questions. You can even carry along a pack of cards and play some games while you sit down for a picnic lunch.
Use this opportunity to get creative with your ideas, and ask your children to come up with their own ideas for games. Try and play everyone's suggestions at least once, so that the whole family can feel like they're contributing to the fun.
5. The Power of Positive Reinforcement
When it comes to kids, positive reinforcement works so much better than its negative counterpart. Hiking is supposed to be fun, so unless it's absolutely necessary, try and avoid berating your kids for being difficult or throwing tantrums. Yes, your self-control will be tested, and no, it's not going to be easy at all.
However, what you can do instead is celebrate little accomplishments, reward good behavior and be generous with your compliments. For example, if young Ryan is attempting a particularly steep slope, tell him how well he did, even if he doesn't make it to the top. You can also give them little stickers, pins or other small rewards to keep as medals of honor.
The idea is to encourage positive actions and attitudes. It'll help keep spirits high, and motivate your kids to try new things.
6. Assign Fun Titles
Another great way to include everyone is to assign fun titles and roles to each individual. For example, someone could be "the captain", in charge of leading the way, another could be "the navigator", to help the captain choose the right path, in case he or she is having trouble.
Again, use this opportunity to get creative. You can also rotate these positions among yourselves so that everyone gets a taste of what it's like to be in charge of everything, at some point.
Now, if you've got teenagers involved, it's likely they'll turn their nose up at this, but that's where tip number 7 comes in.
7. Don't Force it
Sometimes, as parents, the most counter-productive thing we do is forcing our kids to love things. But, do you remember when you were a bratty, young teenager yourself? The more you were told to want something, the more likely you were to dig your heels in.
If someone is off in a sulk or is throwing tantrums, give them their alone time. Odds are, they'll be dying to join the family again when they see how much fun you're having together. It's a high risk, high reward situation.
You do have to be the bigger person in this situation. If they decide that they want to join in the family fun, be warm and welcoming, and don't mention the tantrum. If they do decide on not participating, after all, do tell them that you missed them, but let them know that you respect their decision.
Hiking With Kids and Staying Active as a Family
Practicing outdoor activities like hiking with kids is a fantastic way to spend quality time together as a family, as well as get in some good exercise. We hope these tips were helpful in getting your kids excited about hiking.
For more inspiration, be sure to visit our store to stock up on some comfortable outdoor wear or travel merchandise for your adventures.
There's nothing like a new T-shirt or an outdoor beanie to keep those spirits high!