Your kids are the apple of your eye, the reason you go to work and get out of bed. It make sense then that you give them the tools to succeed. Preparation is everything. As the old adage goes, “failure to prepare, prepare to fail.”
This is where you come in, as the great parents that you are, you’ll want to teach your kids vital survival skills that they can carry with them throughout their life.
A keen sense of survival and situational awareness is a more precious gift than any of the latest mobile phones or games consoles. You want to be confident that should the worst ever occur, your kids will have the wherewithal to get themselves and potentially others, to safety. Your instructions over the years of their developmental stages will be key in laying the foundations for your kids to be successful, astute and practical.
Here at Mike’s Gear Reviews, we have created an infographic that will give you everything you need to know about teaching your kids to be prepared for anything… From growing food to first aid. Read on and digest… (Article continues below)
Surviving In the Wilderness
Kids love to be outside.
While it may appear that in today’s day and age, a child would rather be glued to a computer screen, there’s simply no substitute for imagination and a sense of adventure. That’s where you come in. Blending the folds of education and fun into a useful activity, you can use your best judgment for your child to create games and lessons that are skill appropriate. One of the most inexpensive and fun activities you can do is setting up camp. Just grab a tent and pitch up somewhere reasonable You don’t even need to go far, even your backyard will be more than adequate for this experience. The change of scenery and close proximity to nature, with all its sounds and intricacies will get your child’s inner survivor bubbling to the surface.
Sticking with the backyard, you can also turn it into a survival training ground.
If you have a tree, or some significant point of reference like a shed, this can be known as the “safe haven.” The idea will be to create an obstacle course that can be traversed with the objective to reach the “safe haven.” This is a great way to get your kids into this mindset of getting to safety and the benefit is that it can be done within the relative comfort of your own home. Once this becomes stale, you can take this to your local park and expand on the objectives there, once again allowing your child to benefit from the outdoor setting.
As well as staying active and healthy, hiking presents another opportunity for your children to get used to the idea of being outside and in unfamiliar territory. A hike can be as long or a short as you like, involve as many different inclines or terrain and be in any weather conditions. The variation that is provided will allow your child to experience new and exciting points of interest. Coupled with this, it’s a good experience to have them navigating challenging routes where appropriate, for example a slightly steep hill as opposed to flat ground.
The options are wide and varied and present an ideal playground for you and the family.
Finally, there’s always room to talk about food. In particular; fishing.
A gentle and relaxing setting that allows you to spend quality time with your family, it also lays the foundation for the bigger picture; being able to generate a food source should you be far from the conveniences of a town. Fishing is a patient art, which is another skill that is somewhat fading in today’s culture of wanting and expecting everything now. It is a great virtue to have, so instilling this early in your child’s development will set the stage for them being able to handle a scenario whereby patience is absolutely required, which is often the case when thinking of the bigger picture of survival.
Survival skills to teach your kids: Age Appropriate Priorities
Clearly as children grow and learn there will be a time and a place to learn certain skills or practices. For example, you wouldn’t show your 5 year old how to handle a knife, however a 13 or 14 year old could be ready for such a step. Once again it will depend on judgment, but here are some useful reference points to assist you;
Survival skills to teach your kids: Ages 5-8
This is the age where you child is really starting to develop their own sense of identity.
Discovery and wonder are high on the priority list and as a parent, it’s a great time to set in place some survival instincts. Situational awareness is something to be worked on and can be done almost anywhere.
When crossing the road for example, encouraging them to stop, look and listen on their own accord is a great stepping stone to developing this trait. In simple terms, situational awareness pertains to knowing what is happening around you. This can be developed by implementing a game with your kids that will make them take note of their surroundings. For example, you could leave a store and have a pop quiz, asking such questions as “where were the exits” and “what displays did you see.”
Referring back to the earlier example of a “safe haven”, this is expanded here where we can teach kids the importance of staying hidden, when required.
Again, in order to make it a fun activity, the classic game of hide and seek can be used as it teaches them how to stay silent, out of sight and protected. Feeding into that as well, teaching kids how to safely climb a tree is a great activity to engage in. Not only is this something fun and active, but a tree has multiple uses. This includes a vantage point, allowing for a better field of view, escaping predators and even to hunt prey. All these basic ideas can be implemented from this early age that will set as ideologies for their future.
Food is critical for surviving and knowing what is okay to eat and what isn’t are key skills.
You can do this by teaching your kids to look for visual clues, which can include when fruit goes bad it discolors. Similarly, smell is another sense to employ, for example if milk has gone bad the pungent smell is an obvious giveaway.
Out in the wilderness though, there aren’t too many opportunities to pop into the store and grab a bite to eat, so there may one day be a scenario where they’ll have to grow their own food. If you have space in your backyard, invest some time and effort into creating a patch to grow fruit and vegetables. Allow your child to hold responsibility over this and teach them how to cultivate the soil appropriately.
Expanding on being safe with food, this is the age where you can let your kids know how to spot certain allergic reactions within your family.
For example, your partner may be allergic to nuts and as such the symptoms need to be established. Visual cues such as a puffy face and sudden rash appearing are easy for the kids to remember and can be established so that if this is noticed, to immediately seek aid.
Furthermore, in an emergency situation it’s great practice to explain to your kids what dialing 911 can do and what to say. By extension, using the example above, explain that they are to call for an ambulance and that mommy has had a reaction to nuts. It’s not too tough to remember and you can even use flash cards kept by the phone book to assist.
Basic first aid is another facet you can introduce at this age.
Teaching how to properly clean a cut and being hygienic is a great place to start.
Applying a band aid is simple and can be fun, with many designs that showcase your child’s favorite heroes, they will probably want to stick them on any minor graze! This will be the foundation and building blocks to much larger ideas, such as CPR and wilderness first aid. Probably towards the latter age of this spectrum is a good idea to introduce the concept of CPR as there is a lot of information to retain.
At that age, it is unlikely they will be physically capable of performing a chest compression, but by learning this invaluable skill now, it will take root and could be a life saver in years to come.
Then we finally get to survival skills in the urban, or everyday environment.
If you keep an emergency food stash somewhere in your house, perhaps the basement or a cupboard somewhere, it’s a good idea to let your kids in on this knowledge. Getting lost is a scary prospect not only for you, but for kids too. You can alleviate this stressful scenario by teaching them what to do when they are lost, such as heading to a pre determined safety point or finding someone to help them. Linked with that, teaching them who to approach and who to steer clear from is vital. There are many pitfalls in today’s society that unfortunately kids can fall into, so letting them know who the good guys are is of utmost importance.
Survival skills to teach your kids: Ages 9-12
The age of the “tweener”; not quite a child yet not quite a teenager, this is another point in life where ideas can be embedded or expanded upon. Basic survival ideas can be developed such as safely building and maintaining a fire. Again, with supervision, this can be a cool exercise and bonding experience for parent and child. Likely scenarios would be when out camping and you can engage in the classic activity of roasting marshmallows over an open fire.
Sticking with the outdoors, this is an opportunity now to teach your child how to construct a shelter in the wilderness.
To keep things interesting, one approach might be to see who can build the best dwelling by simply using the nature around them, setting key lessons in place subliminally. Finally with this outdoor theme is imparting knowledge on how to appropriately stay at optimum temperatures outside, whether it’s to be cool or warm. Clothing and equipment play a huge role in this and it’s a good chance to get them into the habit of packing an extra sweater, just in case.
Priorities exist in survival, with water being very high up on this list as you can imagine. Therefore it is important to show your kids where and how to find safe drinking water when outdoors. It’s not as simple as it may seem, with multiple water sources not being fit for purpose, such as a river or pond.
The water here is stagnant, meaning an increased chance of bacteria being present. Avoid this. By contrast, clear flowing water that is sourced away from humans or manmade constructs is ideal. Look for any obvious signs of pollution just to be sure.
Home remedies are a great way to improvise medicine and generate great awareness about what different mixtures can do. As a first step, it can link in with other outdoor activities such as the aforementioned hiking. While on this expedition, you can go foraging (with appropriate knowledge) for herbs and plants to use later. At this age, children are still in the curious phase where learning is best experienced by doing, so getting hands on is a great method to teach. Once gathered, you can explore the vast ocean of remedies available and learn together with your kids.
Honey is another excellent remedy that can be used to counteract a cough or sore throat. Simply half a teaspoon mixed with a squeeze of lemon juice will help relieve symptoms and it’s such an easy solution to craft.
Survival sanitation is something that can be introduced at this stage and it begins with hand sanitization. Get the kids used to washing hands after going to the bathroom and before meals. You can teach them to be thorough by getting creative and emphasizing the hands must be properly washed or the germs will steal their food, or something to that effect! If you’ve noticed your child biting their nails, it’s time to address this and discourage this practice.
Similarly, chewing inanimate objects like pens and pencils can now be stopped as well.
Heading back to the wilderness, staying clean and hygienic extends to human waste disposal. One method and good habit to preach is the “cat hole.” This would mainly be employed in a short term scenario, but all you need to do is dig a hole roughly 10 inches deep by 5 inches wide. Once the deed is done, cover the hole up with the dirt you removed. Be advised though, the hole should not be within 200 feet of any source of water, nor in an area where water visibly flows.
Essentially, be aware of water runoff and be conscious of feces reaching any water source.
Orientation is something to be introduced as well, which includes basic map reading and can even extend to searching the sky for directions. Point out the obvious reference points, such as the north star and expand on this (if you have sufficient knowledge) by introducing constellations. Space is generally exciting for kids, so this should be a fun activity to share.
Reverting to the urban environment, there are new lessons to be learned at this age.
Starting with potentially the most frightening due to lack of education; gunfire. At this stage, it’s important to let you kids know what gunfire sounds like and how to appropriately react, whether that’s getting to safety or alerting the authorities. Every day hazards can now be explored as well, such as the mundane task of stepping into an elevator suddenly turning into a nightmare should it get stuck. Letting your child know not to panic and how to appropriately deal with this situation is crucial.
Finally, basic self defense is an age appropriate skill that can be learned. Perhaps explore options such as after school clubs or local teachers who train in martial arts or boxing. This is also a great physical activity to keep your kids active and provide an outlet for any pent up anger that could be present.
Survival skills to teach your kids: Age 13 +
The teenage years, the phase all parents love to hate. Puberty causing hormones to run wild and free, giving your angel a devilish mood swing, there’s plenty to be on your toes about in this age group.
However, there are also lots of opportunities for advanced learning and building on the foundations already established. Basic survival can now be supplemented with knife work and how to safely and appropriately use one, as well as keeping it in good condition (sharp and clean.)
Bolstering the knowledge established about clean and viable drinking water sources, this can now be developed further with filtering and boiling water so it is acceptable to drink. Coupled with this is finding uses for water that can’t be consumed. Such examples including cleaning, both of one’s self and any equipment.
Sourcing viable food is now a skill that can be really focused on, fishing has already been established at a younger age so hunting is the next step. By employing equipment such as a bow or rifle, bigger game can be hunted and cooked and there’s nothing quite like sharing this experience with your child. A sense of empowerment and achievement will be unlocked, as catching your own food triggers the very base primal survival instincts rooted within us.
Switching to the home environment, cooking and preparing food can be taught at this age, with kids having the capacity to understand the intricacies and safety awareness to safely cook.
There are multiple methods, such as using an oven or pan frying over an open flame. Using a flame is useful as this can be transitioned to the outdoor environment as well. It’s important to point out the key signs for when food is properly cooked, for example with chicken ensure the meat is pure white to signify it’s been cooked through.
Medicine can be further explored, with correct procedures established for certain scenarios, such as administrating life saving paraphernalia such as insulin.
In addition, how to safely and effectively help an injured person can be developed where appropriate.
Self defense can really be explored now and the introduction of firearms can be approached.
Safety is paramount, so basic gun safety procedures are to be observed. This can then be developed further with practicing shooting using gun targets. Check out our review of the best gun targets here, for an idea of how to employ this scenario; MikesGearReviews.com/shooting-targets. To continue, basic weaponry and how to construct it is something else to be taken into consideration. Whilst out in the wilderness, it’s good practice to construct a basic spear using sticks and stone tied together. Another great lesson you can share with your child.
- Discussing survival and keeping safe is an activity the entire family can share and take part in.
- Outdoor activities will allow you to discuss topics such as food sources, water resourcing and appropriate clothing to carry.
- In order to keep things engaging and meaningful, take care to make the lessons fun, this will help retention in the long run.
- Appropriate the lessons according to the age of your kids and realize that development occurs at their own pace, so there’s no need to fret if you feel you’re not on track with the infographic or any information established here.
- You can look at the learning pattern by using a pyramid model. When they’re younger, at the base of the pyramid, there will be lots of new ideas to plant and lay the foundations. As they get older, and the pyramid narrows, the new lessons start to thin.
- Finally, when they are older still and the pyramid is at its peak, there are few new lessons to learn, rather honing in on skills already learned from when they were very young.
Remember, it’s your child and their safety that’s the key, so approach the topic with serious intentions and a willingness to develop them to become smart and successful survivors.