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Is it difficult to get your children to run around in the open air and enjoy the surrounding landscapes?
Loïc, mountain guide, gives you his tips on how to encourage your children to go hiking again and again!
A perfect day on a mountain trail, the sky is blue and the little family walks slowly towards the refuge, the goal of the day.
Well, almost … Gabriel, 6, is dragging his feet, moaning, he's tired of hiking.
Surpassing oneself, recharging one's batteries, observing the beauty of the landscapes are all reasons that motivate us, adults, to go to the mountains.
But for children, it is not always easy to see the value of going for a walk with the family.
So how can we avoid them dragging their feet when they accompany us on a hike?
By viewing it differently, like an imaginary journey, having fun observing what surrounds us or even playing with nature.
Having a reason to walk is one of the ways to reach the top.
Armed with their miniature hiking boots, sunglasses on the tip of their noses, headgear fixed well in place and covered in sunscreen, our little ones look very grown-up.
However, they do not yet have our strength and endurance.
It is therefore important to take into account the physical capacities of our toddlers when determining the goal of the day. Whether it is too difficult or too long to achieve, in either case our children will leave their motivation by the wayside. So far it's pretty obvious, but is it enough to have a goal suited to their strengths for them to want to achieve it?
Let's have a look at the nature of these objectives. A summit, a lake, a refuge? Of course, these remarkable points can be amazing, but for the little ones they are more meaningful if they stimulate their imagination.
On this point, it's up to you to be creative:one of the techniques is to tell a story around the hike.
And as you go along, the story continues. We therefore discover trolls, unicorns and even fairies along the way.
The objective is then broken down into small sections, where each location becomes the next part of the story. Like pages turning, the footsteps follow one after the other and the children rush forward to find out the next chapter.
You've won! I'm sure you understand that getting your little ones to keep walking and especially enjoy themselves when hiking is not always easy, but giving them a suitable goal while stimulating their imagination can help.
Exploring, observing, discovering, in short becoming a budding detective can be a good enough motivation for hiking. But to arouse curiosity, you must first help your child to perceive the benefits of what surrounds them.
For this, you must have a minimum of knowledge about the natural environment. So first stock up on anecdotes and surprising facts about the "little" creatures that you may meet on your way.
Nothing easier: in book stores or online, there are many resources on this subject.
In concrete terms, you can go in search of all kinds of animals and bugs. Well, this is always more interesting if you end with an observation.
To avoid the risk of a disappointment, setting out to conquer the Ibex or any other four-legged mammal, insects is a good compromise.
Easily observable, they often offer unsuspecting treasures. Ants, for example, are remarkable. The organization of their society, their habitat and their abilities can make the eyes of your toddlers shine. When they discover they are endowed with superhero strength, and their home, the Ant Hill, seemingly a bunch of lawless twigs, is as well organized as our homes, hunting for these insects often becomes exciting.
With this little bit of advice, the hike becomes part of a plot. Interrupted by pauses to allow room for observation. It takes longer, but the little ones have a lot of fun and will surely ask for more stories in the heart of nature.
Don't forget to bring your magnifying glass with you!
Land art, Wild painting… does that ring a bell?On the border between a sports outing and an artist's workshop, a hike that includes Land Art or a Wild Painting session can motivate children to go hiking.
“Land Art” is to use nature (preferably still life) to avoid pulling up vegetation to create a painting.You can therefore build, on the ground, an ephemeral piece of work with twigs, rocks, branches or any other object that you have been lucky enough to meet on your way. A game for our little ones to discover everything they will need to let their imagination run wild during lunch break.
“Wild Painting”, is creating a drawing on a blank piece of paper using pigments found in nature.Leaves, petals, earth, wood become coloured pencils.Walking along paths, like explorers, in search of the right colours that will allow us to create the drawing of our choice.
There is no miraculous recipe to make sure your little ones have fun when hiking with you, but these few tips can help them get to the top. Far from the noise of Disneyland, calm in the mountains and yet so close to the same imaginary world, a storytelling hike appeals to children. Observing small creatures or playing with nature are also techniques that make them smile and give them incentive to walk. Many other tips exist to motivate those little ones into walking. This list is not exhaustive.
Now it's your turn to play or rather to hike although, as you will have understood, you don't have to choose!