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Teaching children what to do during a disaster could pay off in a huge way later on. Not only will they be able to help you if the SHTF, they’ll be able to help themselves if something happens to you. This is why it’s important to instill the value of preparation early on.
But how are you supposed to get kids excited about prepping when it’s already hard enough getting them to do chores? In this post I’m going to make a few suggestions. Keep in mind that every child is different, so what works on one might not work on another and vice versa.
1. Provide Survivalist-Related Entertainment
One of the easiest ways to get started is to provide them with books, movies, and games that have something to do with survival. For example, when I was a kid I really liked Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. It’s about a boy who gets lost in the Canadian wilderness and has to use his skills to survive. Today the most popular survival fiction book for children is The Hunger Games, but there are many others.
If your child isn’t much of a reader, try some TV shows and movies. There are all sorts of survival TV shows nowadays, and there are many great survival movies (not the R-rated ones, of course). They won’t teach many specific skills, but they might get your children interested in learning more.
Another option is survival-related games. There’s a free survival computer game called Disaster Hero that’s really fun. There are also survival board games such as the Worst Case Scenario Survival Game. Finally, here are 10 great pretend games that can teach your kids preparedness skills.
2. Give Them Responsibilities
Once your kids start to show some interest in prepping, give them responsibilities they can handle. For example, you could put your child in charge of a small garden. He or she can plant the seeds, fertilize the soil, and water it everyday. Watching vegetables grow and realizing they won’t make it without regular weeding and watering can make a lasting impression.
You could also put them in charge of backyard chickens. Not only must chickens be fed and eggs gathered, you have to prepare for calamities such as a cat or some other predator getting into the chicken coop.
If you don’t have a garden or chickens, give them some other responsibility like rotating food every time you get back from the grocery store. Make sure they understand how to store food properly and why it must be rotated. These are just a few ideas to get you started. Try to think of other responsibilities they can handle.
3. Encourage Prepper Hobbies
This is even more dependent on your child’s personality. Some kids like to be in the kitchen and might enjoy canning, dehydrating, and so forth. Other kids might prefer to stay outside and work in the garden or take care of animals. Still others might prefer technology (lights, radios, generators, etc.).
The point is to find some sort of hobby that interests them. Don’t force them into anything as that can backfire and make them want nothing to do with prepping. However, do encourage them to try new things. Probably the best way for your kids to find a useful hobby they like is to join the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts (they don’t just sell cookies, ya know).
4. Find Fun Things To Do Together
Prepping should not be about fear, it should be about fun. Yes, when they’re older (probably in the teenage years) you can explain the fragility of our modern world and the potential dangers we all face, but don’t try explaining these things to small children. That will only put a cloud of fear over every prepper activity and make them want nothing to do with it.
Instead do things like going camping. What a great way to learn and practice all sorts of survival skills! (Building a fire, collecting and purifying water, setting traps, cooking outdoors, and on and on.) Another fun activity is the survival stress test (where you go “camping” at home). You could also take your kids hunting and fishing, or you could start learning something like Krav Maga together. It’s up to you.
5. Set a Good Example
Remember that your children are always watching, probably more than you realize. I’m not saying you can’t watch a little television in front of your kids, but if that’s all they ever see you doing they’re going to wonder why they shouldn’t do the same.
On the other hand, if they see you reading, exercising, taking care of supplies and equipment, storing food, working in the garden, and so forth, there’s a good chance they’ll emulate that behavior. You want them to understand that prepping is a normal and important part of life. These values will stick with them forever.
Hopefully this post will help prepper parents to start involving their kids more. If you have any other suggestions please leave a comment and I’ll check it out.