advice on walking with children
Posted on January 23rd, 2012
Walking with Children (who are old enough to walk but don’t necessarily like the idea!)
Children are funny creatures, they will cover miles at an impressive pace when they have friends in tow, but the words ‘going for a walk’ suddenly renders them unable to manage more than a few paces! Walking with children post child carrier, will most likely test your patience for a while until they suddenly undergo a transformation and decide they like the idea. Involving children in the preparation and the walk itself can help maintain their interest.
Before you set off
Involve your child in deciding where to go for a walk. If you have a book of walks for children, discuss some of the routes and let them pick one. Have a theme to the walk, bird spotting, scavenger hunts or alphabet hunts.
Make sure they have a bit of good childrens clothing too. It needn’t break the bank and items such as waterproof jackets can double up for school. Providing your child with their own rucksack will help make them feel more grown up (it also means you won’t have to carry quite so much). If children are properly kitted out they will be happier, which makes everything else easier!
The walk itself
Turn a walk with children into a series of activities, which will take their mind off what they are actually doing.
Get children involved in the outdoors and help them to see how much is around them when they are outside. Keep your own eyes peeled and stop and look at the ladybird on the leaf, the snail sliding across the path, the conkers in their spikey shells and the swallow that is flying by. Young children in particular are absolutley fascinated by nature.
Let them pick up stones, leaves etc and carry them in their rucksack. Have a list of things to find on the walk and tick them off as you see them with a prize at the end if they find everything.
Race to the top of a hill or landmark, keep a check on how many races they have won.
Get everyone a pedometer (you may already have some of the freebies that were in breakfast cereals a while ago), and have a prize at the end for the person who has done the most steps.
Allow time for a paddle in the sea or lake in mid-summer and take a towel with you, travel towels are useful as they pack down small and dry quickly.
Give your child some responsibility
Make your child the official snack monitor, responsible for carrying goodies in their own rucksack and dishing them out to the rest of the group.
Allow your child to cary the map (in a map case) and help with the navigation. If you have a GPS, trust your child to carry it, and ask for read-outs – they will feel so important.
Incentives for little legs
It’s always helpful if there is an ice cream van at the end of the walk, or some other incentive.
Regular praise along the way will keep little legs walking. Make a certificate and award it to them at the end of every walk, include the distance and their age on it. They can stick them on their bedroom wall at home and admire their achievements. You could also add a photo of your child to the certificate.
Have a photo gallery at home with a snap of each walk you have been on.
See whether a friend would like to come along (friends are a better incentive to walk than a sibling!). Like dogs they will probably cover far more ground than you running backwards and forwards! It’s also a good idea if you can organise walks with other parents.