Hiking With Kids: 5 Tips To Motivate Them
If you are planning a hike with your children or grandchildren, be aware that this family outing requires special preparation. Younger children are generally reluctant to walk for long periods of time, especially if they do not have a specific goal or motivation. To prevent children and teenagers from dragging their feet on the trail, follow our 5 tips to motivate them during a hike.
1- Choose an adapted itinerary
The number one rule for organizing a hike with kids is to choose an age-appropriate route.
Even though children can start hiking from the age of 4, their pace and physical abilities should be respected.
In practice, you should adjust the distance covered to the child's age. At 4 years old, a child can walk 1.5 km, at 5 years old 3 km, at 6 years old between 4 and 5 km.
When planning the route, you should therefore pay special attention to the length of the walk and the difference in altitude so that the youngest children can follow you without difficulty.
Also adjust the departure time so that the children are sufficiently rested before setting out on the walk.
2- Give them a mission
The second tip for successful hiking with kids is to give them a mission to complete.
Setting them a goal like recognizing flowers or picking wild fruits such as blackberries or raspberries is a good way to motivate them to walk.
For younger children, walking is easier and more enjoyable if it's tied to a mission, even if it's just finding berries to make blackberry jam on the way home.
So, on every hike with your kids or grandkids, try to make it more fun by coming up with a mission to observe nature with binoculars, for example, or to gather or play a game.
Another trick to get young hikers excited about walking is to go with a dog. This four-legged companion is a great companion for a hike because he often walks at the head of the group and reinforces the motivation of the younger ones to follow him.
3- Involve them in the preparations
The third tip for organizing a hike with kids is to involve them in packing.
Involving them in the preparations helps to make the children more involved and motivated to walk. This will also allow you to listen to their needs and not forget anything.
Remember to take enough water, sunscreen and a cap but also an extra sweater and a K-Way even if the weather seems mild. Take bandaids and antiseptic with you so that you can take care of any small boo-boos and blisters on your feet.
When going with children, you need to be even more prepared so that the family walk doesn't turn into a nightmare in case of a little boo-boo or weather hazard.
If the child asks, advise them to bring a small, lightweight backpack so they can step into their role as the perfect budding hiker!
4- Set the rules before departure
On the other hand, to make a hike with kids go smoothly, you should also set the rules before you leave.
In particular, you can encourage teens to leave their cell phones at home to better enjoy this family nature walk. If they don't want to part with it, at least ask them to place their phone turned off at the bottom of their bag.
Also give the kids safety and nature-friendly guidelines:
- don't walk off the marked trails
- do not pick flowers
- do not throw rocks
5- Provide rewards
The last of our 5 tips for hiking with kids is to motivate the troops with rewards.
If your planned route is long enough, don't forget to take several short breaks throughout the day to drink and snack on a cookie, fresh fruit, dried fruit or other small energy snacks that will boost the hikers' spirits.
Also, plan some homemade food so that the lunch break is a real eco-friendly and gourmet picnic. Younger kids love to eat with their fingers, so don't hesitate to prepare a savory cake, sandwiches and a cake that is easy to take along and enjoy in nature.
The final tip to get kids motivated to walk is to choose a destination that is itself a reward. For example, plan to go to a lake, the seashore or a river where you can take a swim after the walk. Just the prospect of a good swim should make them pick up the pace!