My kids and I do nearly everything together. They always try to do what I do, to their own abilities. My kids are 6 and 8 and they always surprise me. With the current climate, we need to get outside (safely) as much as we can to maintain our sanity. While my kids are used to going and doing everything, there are many activities that you can start now to encourage a hunting lifestyle, no matter their age. Before going into specifics, I will say that EVERY time I suggest a hike or some outdoor trip, I get met with resistance, and after we get there…they never want to leave. It is all about consistency and showing them the way.
Encourage a hunting lifestyle
Make everything an adventure
All the subsequent tips refer to this. I laugh when the neighbor kids ask me what we’re doing next. I try to see the joy and happiness in whatever we do because being outside is always an adventure to me. Animals are unpredictable and you never know what you’ll see or find. I ask questions like “What if…”, “What do you think it’s doing?”, “Why do you think it is doing that?”, and “Do you think we can do that?”, and say things like “Let’s see what is on the other side of that hill/stream/rock!”. When kids see you excited or happy to do something, it sets the tone.
Give them ownership
This is one of my biggest parenting tips in general. But with the outdoors it’s so important, especially when it’s just mom and the kids. I make sure that my kids know that we can only do things if we do them as a team. We all fulfill our roles, no matter how small. We each have our jobs and nearly all kids like to have a purpose. My kids insist on putting up the tent, gathering wood, choosing the trail, and doing it all together as a team. When they own part of something, they have pride in their accomplishment, and they feel like it’s something they did rather than “mom made us go outside”.
Tell them why
This goes along with showing them all the things we see as hunters. I tell my kids about the animals we see or what they left behind can tell us. Giving them knowledge gives them power, just like giving them a job does. Then they can tell someone else or use what they learned to solve another problem they face.
Let it go
This one is the hardest for most parents. As humans, we all have things that drive us bananas; and for most of us, it’s doing things how WE like to do them. To give your child the power to enjoy the outdoors, you must let them figure out how to do the things you love in their own way. It doesn’t have to be your way. Just like we did, they need to get lost, they need to make mistakes, that’s how most of us learn. I give my kids the GPS, I let them find the trail cameras and check them first. Everything that you trust them to do, even if it isn’t your way helps them develop their own relationship with the outdoors.
All these tips, and building your hunting lifestyle together, will help your children enjoy being outdoors as much as you.