You know how it goes. “Kids, today we’re going on a hike!” Kids: “Ughhh! Why? I hate hiking!” Does this sound familiar to you? You might be interested to know, although we go on quite a few hikes, and it may appear in all our photos that our kids are having the time of their lives… they most likely started out whining.
Don’t worry! I have several ideas you can use that work great for us! So here are 6 ways to make hiking fun for kids!
Tip 1: Change Your Wording!
This is the easiest tip ever, but somehow it took a long time for me to figure this out! Literally, all you have to do is NOT use the word “hike” or “hiking”. There are so many more exciting things you could say to motivate your kids! Try using the words, “Going on an adventure.” or “Going out to explore.”
I’m telling you, this is the most obvious tip, but also, the one that gets forgotten the most! You’ll thank us later for this one!
Tip 2: Tell Them Why It Will Be Fun!
This second tip relates to the first idea. When you’re telling your kids “We’re going for a walk” (not on a hike!) add on something that will make them excited about it.
For example, “We’re going for a walk that leads to a lake! We can get in the water at the end!” or “We’re going to explore! There are going to be so many rocks to climb!” Doesn’t that sound a lot more motivating than “It’s time for a hike”?
Tip 3: Play a Game!
Now that you’ve made it out there, maybe your kids are complaining about how long it’s taking to get to this lake/cave/waterfall/etc. It’s time for another way to make hiking fun for kids.
You can help them to stop thinking about the walk by playing a game.
There are so many things you could do! “I Spy” is a classic, and needs no extra items to be packed along! If you’re unfamiliar, here’s how it goes. One person says “I spy something (insert color).” The other people guess what they spy! Whoever guesses correct first gets to be next!
Another fun one is “ABC”. Taking turns, the first person will find something that starts with the letter “A”, the next person will do “B”, and so on.
If you have a little extra time to plan ahead, you could put together a scavenger hunt. Younger kids think this is really fun!
Think about what things you might find in the area you’re going, and print out a page with photos of those things that can be checked off, or do it in a grid-like a Bingo game! If you’re just not feeling that crafty, you can also buy nature scavenger hunt games online or in some stores!
If you didn’t think ahead, just pull one up on your phone to use!
Tip 4: Give Them the Camera!
Or just your phone (to take photos, not to watch videos!) This is such an easy way to make hiking more fun for kids.
My kids love to take photos! If they’re searching for interesting photos to take, they usually aren’t complaining! It’s also just really fun to see what kind of photos you get out of it! You might be surprised!
And also, as a bonus, you will likely make it into a photo or 2 instead of being the one that’s always behind the lens!
Tip 5: Don’t Forget the Snacks!
Even if you are going on a short hike, small snacks are always a good idea. Kids get hangry too!
Also, sometimes snacks are just a good distraction or a motivator to get to the next point. “I’ll get out the M&M’s when we get to the next bench.”
Some of our favorite hiking snacks include Goldfish, granola bars, apples, oranges, Cheerios, and peanut butter crackers. Occasionally, we have snacks that mostly serve as bribes! Fruit snacks, M&M’s, or cookies.
Tip 6: Focus on the Journey!
Sometimes, you have to throw out all your ideas of making it to the end of a trail.
Kids will have a lot more fun if you slow down the pace and let them pause to explore what they are interested in.
Go at their pace. Let them stop and examine the bugs, climb the rocks, wade in the creek, etc. You will still come back with great memories even if you didn’t make it the whole way.
I hope these 6 ideas for making hiking more fun for kids were helpful!
If you need a little push to take your kids hiking, make sure you read 9 Motivating Reasons to Take Your Kids Hiking.
Is there anything we missed? What do you do when your kids start to complain about a hike? Let us know in the comments!
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