As parents, one of our main goals is to try and prepare our children for adulthood, and the tools we give them now will help them through those tough challenges that life is sure to throw their way. Of course we can’t plan for everything, but fostering independence can help ensure that they’ll have the right skills to draw from no matter the situation.
Survival skills are always worth having in your back pocket in case of an emergency — and you never know when you’ll need them. Passing along what we can before our kids fly the coop can not only help them succeed, but can help you sleep a little better at night.
Here are a few ways you can get your kids prepared for their futures as smart, independent, prepared adults:
Going Old School
It’s hard (especially for kids) to imagine a world without technology. While you might remember the days of maps and even the classic “Hey mister, can you tell me how to get to the closest auto shop?” your kids have been raised in a time where the world’s map is found within a GPS app.
While our phones and other kinds of technology are great resources to understand and utilize, teaching your kids how to use those “archaic” methods of navigation will ensure they can orientate themselves with or without a smart device. Knowing how to use a compass and read a map are some of the most vital survival skills you can teach your kid, and they’re easy to overlook. While they might not being using a compass to get to their next lecture at school, it is something that can save them should they get lost while hiking or camping. While you might be tempted to get to each destination as quickly as possible, it wouldn’t hurt to put your kid in charge of co-pilot duties every now and then to keep their navigation skills sharp.
Time Is Survival
The most important skill also happens to be one of the hardest to master. As parents we likely still struggle with managing our time ourselves. Unfortunately, time is one of the most valuable resources we have, but it is also the toughest to control and organize. Not only is time management essential for meeting those work and school deadlines, but time is instrumental while in the wilderness. You need to break camp on time, know how long it will take to hike to your next destination, and when you should be starting your fire (to name just a few).
Organization is obviously key here, and it’s important to tailor your time to your needs. With younger kids, you can start by having some structure with a chore or homework chart and then build upon that foundation. If your kids are older, consider giving them a set of tasks to be completed and a time limit — a week, a day, a few hours — and that’s it.
Of course, also make it clear that there will be some consequences if they don’t finish all their duties on time such as no video games for a weekend or a break from their friends. You don’t want to be too harsh or give them too much to complete, but show them that it’s important to take care of the essentials and then enjoy the fun things. Furthermore, giving them a little bit of flexibility makes them feel more independent while still learning those important survival skills.
Surviving Alongside Their Fellow Man
Sometimes, our survival involves learning how to cooperate and work alongside others. It’s often easier to survive and divide up the work when you’re joined by several people. However, survival within your “pack” also often relies on having empathy for your companions. Teaching our children empathy can help them through some tough situations and foster a better environment for survival: whether that’s in the wilderness, or at their job.
Empathy is an important trait of any strong leader. Empathy allows you to know and understand what people’s limits are and can prevent you from asking too much of one person. While survival doesn’t always involve working with others — it’s important to note that at the end of the day, humans are social creatures and a lot of the time we do end up working alongside our fellow man.
Moreover, empathy isn’t always a given when it comes to kids. Emotions are complicated and can be difficult to process. It’s also easy for kids to focus on themselves more than others (which does have some merit in regards to survival). Still, it’s worth spending the time teaching your kids the value within their own feelings as well as helping them understand the effect emotions can have on others.
At the end of the day, even if you feel like a failure, your kids are still learning so much from you. After all, there are lessons in failure too. One amazing thing about showing children the importance of preparedness and survival is that they’ll likely use those learned skills throughout their entire adulthood. It might require some (okay, a lot) of patience, but ultimately, your kids will thank you for everything you taught them.
Adrian Johansen loves to write, teach, and create. She believes in that a combination self-sufficiency and teamwork can help anyone live an intentional, meaningful life. Check out more of her writing on twitter!