I love to go hiking with my boys. They are great partners and have tons of energy (most of the time). The challenge is how to instill a passion for hiking or for any type of exercise for that matter?
Especially now in our lives, children are using the TV and video games to entertain themselves instead of playing outside and being active. I'm not saying my kids don't watch TV, but I want to try to instill a passion for being healthy and active. Here are a few simple steps to help get your kids excited to go on a hike.
1. Be excited to go on a hike. Yes, in order for your kids to understand how fun a hike can be, you need to actually want to have fun too! Be a good example of a fit and healthy adult and your kids will follow.
2. Bring plenty of food. Make sure you have enough food to last throughout the hike. There is nothing worse than a hungry, and therefore cranky, child with 3 more miles to hike. They will remember being hungry more than the 20 awesome things they saw during the hike.
3. Be encouraging. I am not always the best person for this one. I can get into my pace and instead of encouraging the boys, I might push them a tad too much. Try to go at the slowest person's pace and take rest breaks if needed. However if your child is capable of going faster by all means push them to go faster (in a nice way :).
4. Reward them. When your child accomplishes something on a hike, reward them in some way. Sometimes I bring special treats, sometimes it is just with words. Whatever works for your child should be what you use. For example, my youngest son loves to be praised while my oldest would rather have a treat.
5. Make sure you are prepared for anything. You can go here to see what I bring on our hikes. Make sure your child is warm enough and dry to ensure a comfortable hiking experience. Wet feet and blisters=bad hiking experience.
6. Bring friends. Nothing motivates my boys more than energetic friends. They love to go hiking with others, it just makes it more fun. They have buddies to talk to and play with, without noticing that they are hiking 5 miles uphill.
7. Praise, Praise, Praise. I know I already mentioned this, but praise your kids when they accomplish something. When you crest a tough hill or make it to the top of the mountain tell them what a great job they did. I know I like to be told I am doing a good job.
Follow these steps and you will enjoy a fulfilling hiking experience with your children.