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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hiking with Kids: Tips for Helping them Love It

You love hiking, and you want your kids to love it too. You can help them to love your sport by engaging them in it.
We did that with our own kids, but I’m afraid we may have made some mistakes. We probably pushed them too hard at times. Other times we let them set the pace.

Hiking trail
Image by Krug6 via Flickr
So, now that they are adults, we have pretty much mixed results, although leaning toward the side of success. One of our three kids loves hiking and outdoors activities. Another one enjoys hiking as long as he can do it with my wife and me. The third one has verbally made it clear that she hates hiking. Ironically, she joined the army where forced marches are on the daily list of activities.
Here are a few tips for helping your kids to develop a love for hiking.
1. Check out the route before you take the kids, making sure it is appropriate for their abilities and preferences.
2. Include the children in the planning of the hike.
3. Emphasize having an enjoyable experience, not mileage or speed.
4. Let the kids set the pace of the hike (Note: It will be much slower than when adults hike without kids.).
5. Make the smallest kid the main pace setter.
6. Make plenty of room for spontaneity in what the kids do for fun, allowing them to find their own fun along the way.
You know the benefits of hiking. So, try some of these tips so they’ll develop a love for this outdoor sport and reap those benefits throughout their lives.
by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.
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