Hiking is a great way to get the whole family active and enjoy nature! It's also a great way to help kids build character.
Perseverance is to continue doing something, especially when it is difficult! I’m sure anyone who has hiked with little guys has heard "I'm tired," "I'm hungry," "Will you carry me?" and many other complaints. Even older hikers may want to quit if it's too cold or too steep! But, helping kids to push on can help them discover just how strong they are!
I remember taking Hazel and Sawyer on a hike last year. I did check the weather before we started out, and the forecast looked okay. But, after hiking for a while, it started SNOWING! Our kids were not impressed with the winter beauty and wanted to go back to the car. We forged on for a bit, encouraging the kids with small goals (just make it to that huge rock up ahead), but soon realized it was probably best to head back.
A few minutes after we started back, the kids were over it. They were tired, cold and hungry. But, we encouraged them to continue, acknowledged how difficult this was for them and didn't carry them. Afterwards, we went out for coffee and hot cocoa and talked about how they were able to continue hiking even though it was a challenge for them. We talked about what they learned about themselves and linked it to other times they had shown perseverance. We remind the kids of their perseverance whenever they seem to be struggling—while writing a story, riding their bikes up a big hill or building a block tower!
Protecting and being responsible for something is another character trait you can teach while hiking! As hikers, we can be stewards of the earth by teaching kids to stay on the trail, leave nature in nature, look for animals (but don't chase or feed them!) and pick up any trash they find on the path.
I think it's important to also discuss WHY these things are helpful. Even if your kids don't turn out to be avid hikers, you will have taught them about respecting nature and how their actions impact the environment. Sometimes making the link between our behavior and the environment is so abstract—how exactly does turning off the lights really make a difference? But, on a hike it is something they can see first hand!
Curiosity is a strong desire to know or learn something. Is there a better place to foster this than on a hike? Encourage those questions! And, if you don't know the answers, that's okay. Teaching kids how to seek answers is another valuable lesson. It's good for them to notice that even mom and dad can learn new things! Make a plan to find the answers. Do you know an expert? Or, is there a book you might check out at the library? Or will you search for the answer on the Internet?
If you're looking for some great places for family hikes, I came across this site the other day. I know we are going to check out a few of them!
Mom-of-two and food lover Amanda enjoys leading by example to keep her family active and healthy in Castle Rock, Colo.