How to introduce our children to hiking

08 August, 2022

By Sarah Baribeau of Bougeotte and Placotine

If you are a subscriber to the monthly Chef de Famille and you have been reading me for a while, you have surely noticed that sport and physical activity are priorities in my life, my favorite hobbies.

My daughters are also starting to get to know me and know that I love introducing them to new sports and new activities. One of my favorites is definitely hiking. So I'm sharing my tips for making this activity positive and especially for it to become a family habit.

Note that for several years, the month of September has almost become a summer month. Indeed, the days are still long and the sun is present.

Being outside is really energizing. At home, hiking is rooted in our habits, on the other hand, it is rarely my children who ask me to. They can indeed sometimes find it long. I offer you my tips to help you accompany your children in the pleasure of walking in the forest.

Put a theme around hiking .

First to motivate them, especially when they were younger, going on a hike was synonymous with treasure hunting. They always leave with each a large Ziploc bag in which they can put the treasures found as they go. Sometimes they choose finds that they then use to make a craft. I also use hiking to educate them about biodiversity and the importance of protecting the environment. For example, they cannot uproot mushrooms or mosses that take years to grow and are habitats for many insects. Bringing in an educational side keeps them stimulated.

A realistic objective and without great expectations.

It is important to start with shorter hikes so that your children are not discouraged and can experience success. It may be worth setting a specific goal, such as how far to go before having a snack and turning back. We prepare together a nice snack that we will share. Sometimes, as a parent, we have big ambitions, but we have to start somewhere and especially that the very first time is a success.

Be persistent.

Don't be put off by the protests. I notice that some parents believe that children who go on hikes are always motivated. Well no! It took us at least three years before we went on a hike without any child grumbling. We decide to go anyway, regardless of the protests, for us, the decision was made and we were not going back. They will have to adapt and find a way to enjoy it. They had to get used to the idea and develop perseverance and the art of compromise. Now they are able to find pleasure on their own and find a way to make the activity exciting.

Make it a habit

Let's not forget that a habit takes time to acquire. Put hiking on your agenda more than once a season, otherwise your children won't be able to see the benefits or understand that it's an activity that will come back. For example, when we go to my mother who lives in the countryside, every Saturday morning around 9am, we go for a hike, in the same path near her house. Today, the girls are no longer obstinate, it has become part of their habits. Of course, the season premiere will come with protests, but that will pass quickly!

Whether it's hiking or any other activity, remember to be creative, put yourself in your kids' shoes, and be patient. It's worth the effort to set up activities that will become unforgettable memories.