Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
You’ve heard the old adage that says, “children learn what they live.” If your family is living a preparedness lifestyle, it holds true that your kids are learning many skills just by being with you on a daily basis.
However, if you want to make sure you are covering the basics so your kids will grow up to be self-sufficient, there are some steps you can take. Here are 15 important topics to cover as you raise your children to be preppers.
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1. Situational Awareness
It’s a big phrase for little ones, so don’t scare them off by over-doing it. However, a big part of emergency preparation should include being aware of your surroundings. Teach your children to notice changes in the weather, in the environment, and in the people around them.
When they visit a friend’s home or a new building, explain the importance of knowing where the exits are. Could they find their way out in the dark if they had to? How far away from home are they if they had to escape? Would they know in which direction to travel? What natural or human-made landmarks can they recognize?
One way to teach situational awareness is through simple role-playing games. Kids enjoy playing a simple “What If” game in many situations. Here’s an example. If you are at the movies waiting for the show to start, take a few minutes to play “What If.”
What if the power goes out in here, how would you get out? Or if you are at the beach, what If the weather suddenly changes and the waves start acting differently?” You get the idea.
Playing these types of thoughtful games in a non-stressful situation gives you the opportunity to teach your kids essential safety rules and behaviors that will help them stay calm and focused in a real emergency.
2. Self Defense
Structure your self-defense lessons based upon the age and maturity levels of your children. Even when they are very young, you can talk with your kids about what to do if someone tries to kidnap them.
As your child grows, you can begin lessons in wrestling, martial arts, or boxing, and begin instructions on how to load and use a firearm.
3. First Aid
Depending on the age of your child, here are the first aid basics they should learn. Once again, role-playing games can help make this knowledge stick.
- How to clean and dress a wound
- How to stop bleeding
- How to apply a tourniquet
- How to perform CPR
- How to perform the Heimlich maneuver
4. Outdoor Survival Skills
Teach your kids how to survive in the wilderness by focusing on “learning by doing” on camping trips and other outdoor excursions.
Here are some topics to cover: using a map and compass, how to find and to purify water, how to build a fire, how to build a shelter, how to forage for food, how to fish, and how to hunt.
5. Money Management
Teach your children from an early age the importance of living within their means and paying their bills on time. Set an example of a debt-free lifestyle and share with them the importance of saving money for the future.
6. Growing and Raising Food
Let your children work beside you as you plant and tend your garden. When they are old enough, give them a garden plot that is all their own. Plan meals around their harvest.
Assign kids “real” jobs with your animals and livestock so that feeding and caring for animals is a natural part of their lives.
7. Cooking Indoors and Outdoors
When they are little, assign your kids basic kitchen prep chores so they get used to working alongside you in the kitchen. As they mature, allow them to plan and prepare a meal for the entire family on a regular basis.
Take these skills to another level by teaching them how to cook without modern conveniences in the outdoor grill, over an open fire outdoors or in the fireplace.
8. Food Storage
Make sure your kids know about your emergency food pantry, where it is, and what it contains. Teach them how to prepare freeze-dried meals and how to rotate pantry supplies for freshness.
Take them shopping with you when you buy items for your pantry, explaining your selections and their shelf dates. Make food preservation and long-term storage preparation a family project.
9. Simple Household Repairs and Maintenance
Ask your child to come along with you as you winterize your home or repair a leaky faucet. Give brief, clear explanations as you work, including the names and uses for your tools.
This category also should include vehicle repairs and maintenance. Teach your kids how to change a car tire and how to do simple auto maintenance, such as changing the oil and filter. Make sure they know where supplies are stored and details such as how long stored fuel will last.
10. Emergency Drills
Plan and practice together what to do in the event of a fire, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, flood, or another emergency. The more times you review these plans, the better able your children will be able to remain calm in the event of an actual emergency.
Review what steps to take to get outside help if it is needed. Create and post an emergency contact list in a convenient spot. Discuss some of the emergency stations that might require you to evacuate your home and set up a designating meeting place in the event you will be arriving there from different locations.
Your meet-up plan will vary according to what emergency is unfolding, but here are a few examples.
- House fire – meet in front of neighbor’s driveway
- Flood– meet at a place of higher ground that you specify
- Earthquake – gather under the dining room table
- Serious event – meet at a specified bug out location
11. Survival Kit
Let your children help pack their own survival kits. Here is a list of items to include in the bag.
- Water (one gallon of water per person per day)
- Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First Aid kit
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Dust mask
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape
- A jacket or coat
- Long pants
- Long-sleeve shirt
- Sturdy shoes
- Hat and gloves
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket
12. Emergency Lighting and Power
Do your kids know where your candles, lanterns, and flashlights are stored? Teach them fire safety and how to use candles as well as woodburning stoves and cookstoves safely.
If you have a generator, show your children how to get it up and running. Teach them how to refuel lighting devices and change or recharge batteries.
13. Trust Their Instincts
Part of becoming self-reliant is learning to trust yourself and your gut instincts. Model for your kids a sense of self-respect that helps them heed their inner voice when it comes to keeping safe.
For example, share examples of when it is best to hide in a dangerous situation and when it is best to run away.
14. Family Legal Documents
Show your children where important papers are stored and how to access them in case something happens to you.
15. Simple Sewing Skills
Knowing how to repair clothing and sew on a button are essential life skills that children can quickly learn – if you take the time to teach them. Add knot-tying to these skills, and you will be amazed at how they will come in handy in an emergency.
As you know, children have lively imaginations. Avoid overdoing it was details on disasters that might befall them and stick to letting them learn by your example. We don’t want them to become fearful about the future; we just want them to be prepared. Keep in mind that children who are raised in a prepper lifestyle tend to become more self-reliant adults.
If you’d like to learn more about raising your kids to be more self-reliant, here are some additional resources.
- 52 Prepper’s Projects for Parents and Kids: A Project a Week to Help Prepare Your Child for the Unpredictable by David Nash
- Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide to Wilderness Survival by Denise Long
- The Practical Survival Guide for Kids: A Basic How to Survive and be Prepared in the Wilderness by Weise Weasel
- Willy Whitefeather’s Outdoor Survival Handbook for Kids
- Urban Preppers with Kids, Pets & Parents: Disaster Survival for the Family by James G. Mushen
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