Estimated reading time: 15 minutes
Prepping isn’t just a lifestyle choice for parents and grandparents – or at least it shouldn’t be. Getting your kids interested in emergency preparedness so they can develop the mental, physical, and emotional self-reliant skills necessary to survive a disaster is not a difficult task, it will not scare the children, and it can be downright fun.
No matter where you live, there are things you can do to help your children become interested in preparedness. Sure, there are far more opportunities to teach survival skills if you live in a rural environment, but suburban and urban prepping parents also have ample opportunity to instill a desire to be prepared in their kiddos.
Prepper parents cannot follow the conventional “helicopter” or coddling tactics of some modern parents if they truly want to get their kids interested in preparedness. If you are more of a “free range” style parent or grandparent, you are already quite well suited to the important job of raising prepper kids.
When getting kids interested in preparedness, parents have to allow the children to get dirty (sometimes filthy dirty), risk minor cuts and scrapes, work independently, as well as fail and try again as many times as it takes to master a concept or learn a lesson.
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Why Should Parents Get Their Kids Interested In Emergency Preparedness?
Could your children even begin to know what to do in a disaster situation if you weren’t around? THAT is the ultimate reason to make self-reliance training a part of your parenting focus. Preparing a child of any age to be emotionally and mentally prepared for their all-important first reaction when faced with an emergency situation could save their life.
Expecting the entire family to be home together or for both mom and dad to survive and remain healthy leaders of the family throughout a long-term SHTF event would be an act of pure folly.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when pondering what skills to instill in your children and what types of tasks you should consider teaching them:
- Could the children work in the garden to keep this vital food source growing?
- Can the kids harvest and preserve the food growing in the garden or produced by the poultry birds?
- Can the children hunt?
- Can the children fish?
- Can the children butcher the meat they garner from hunting, fishing, or available in the barnyard?
- Do the children have the ability to use any type of self-defense techniques to defend themselves and their vital preps?
- Can the children shoot a bow?
- Can the children shoot a gun?
- Can the kids find their way home alone from school, a friend’s house, or other similar local place?
- Can the children start a fire?
- Do the kids know how to prevent and treat frostbite or hypothermia?
- Can the kids get to the family’s prepper retreat or bugout meeting spot all on their own?
These are but a few ideas to think about when gauging how prepared your kids are and how prepared they should become to take a more active role in keeping themselves alive during a disaster.
When Should You Start Getting Your Kids Interested In Preparedness?
The kids are never too young to begin learning to be self-reliant. Teaching your children to be prepared begins with modeling self-reliant behavior. Little ones are sponges – ask any parent who has been embarrassed by a toddler dropping a curse word in public already knows.
The kids will learn what they live. Taking the children fishing, hunting, camping, allowing them to help the family follow a map on a hike or in the car, are some prime examples of modeling prepping behaviors in front of the children.
Pack a little one on your hip as you go to the chicken coop to collect eggs every day until he or she is old enough to start picking up the eggs themselves. This way, the idea of raising your own food will be second nature from the child’s earliest memories.
Teaching your kids both independence and responsibility from an extremely young age will set the tone and pace for more detailed prepper training in the future.
How To Get Your Kids Interested In Preparedness
1. Everyday Carry – EDC
Preschool and Kindergarten Age EDC Kit
- Small flashlight that can be attached to a belt loop or placed in the child’s backpack.
- Walkie Talkies – there are simple one or two button kid-tough walkie talkies that have a very short range but still function well and will introduce this type of communications system to young children.
- Emergency whistle
- Emergency Mylar blanket
- Simple and age-appropriate first aid kit
- Wallet with child identification and family contact information.
- Shelf stable snack: energy bar, nuts, or granola and a drink.
- Antibacterial lotion
Elementary Age EDC Kit
- Age-appropriate version of all items in the EDC kit in the previous section.
- Map or printed guide to help the child find their way home, to a rally point, of the family’s bugout location if they have to try to make it on their own.
- Small folding binoculars
- Guide to a hidden cache near their school or other place commonly frequented.
- Watch – preferably inside of a Faraday bag
- Chapstick and sunblock
- Insect wrist repellent
Junior High and High School Everyday Carry Items
- Age appropriate versions of EDC gear in the previous section. Placing some emergency cash or a small amount of silver.
- Tactical pen, knife, or pepper spray – or all three.
- Paracord bracelet
- Matches or lighter and tinder
2. Direction and Leadership
Have your child be the leader on a hike, even simple ones from your barn and back to the house when they are young, to teach them basic orienteering skills and to foster their independence and responsibility. The children will love being the trail leader and finding their way to and from places while the parent or group follows behind.
This same fun direction game can be used when traveling in a car. It is especially important for the kids to learn how to get themselves home or to other designated safety points. Keeping score, timing how long it takes the child to figure out the next turn or stop etc. turns the whole self-reliance into a fun and friendly competitive game against the clock or other siblings.
Teaching the children how to identify edible wild plants, herbs, and roots – as well as learning how to identify toxic plants will help them learn another vital survival skill. Hiking to pick some fresh berries for your breakfast or a colorful wild edible salad for lunch is a fun way to help get kids interested in prepping to feed themselves.
The Wildcraft Herbal Adventure board game is also a really fun way to learn more about edible and medicinal wild plants. It is a cooperative board game that is truly fun to play for kids of all ages – and often teaches adults a thing or two, as well.
Plant a garden with the children or task them with helping the family choose, raise, preserve, and prepare food that will be eaten over the course of the year. If you have little space, a windowsill or planter garden will help teach gardening skills, as well.
I started having the grandkiddos help plant rows in our main garden and gave them their own space inside my apothecary patch when they were only two years old. They all took great pride in planting their seeds and watching their plant grow and finally enjoying its bounty.
The hole digging portion of the gardening with young children is of course also a big hit. Teaching the children about “good” bugs and “bad” bugs from a food cultivation perspective is also usually a lot of fun for the children and makes an excellent homeschooling science lesson, as well.
Teaching the children how to hunt will also increase their self-reliance skills while enhancing their future food security. Living in a rural area, it is not at all uncommon for both boys and girls to go deer hunting and squirrel hunting by the age of seven. With the supervision of an adult, these children fire a .22 caliber rifle during their hunting excursions.
If you are not blessed to live in a rural area, you can begin teaching about the concepts of responsible hunting virtually with a board or video game. Hunting leases and professionally operated hunting reserves would also be an option for suburban and urban dwellers who want to take their kids hunting.
Taking the children fishing doubles as both a fun family outing and prepper skill building. Teaching the kids how to fish, how to find their own bait, how to make a primitive fishing pole, and then how to clean and prepare the fish will add valuable skills to their growing cache of self-reliance skills.
7. Join Skill-Building Youth Groups
Getting the kids involved in youth groups that are focused upon teaching outdoor, agricultural, and leadership skills is yet another fun way to get kids excited about prepping. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were the “go to” youth clubs for outdoor and self-reliance skills for generations, but there’s a growing number of similar groups that are more keenly focused on the more traditional methods of scouting endeavors that Boy and Girl Scouts were once so highly regarded for.
Trail Life USA, American Heritage Girls, Frontier Girls, and Campfire Girls and Boys are some examples of scouting clubs that differ from the modernized version of Boy and Girl Scouting. 4-H clubs are also highly valuable clubs for youth from the age of 5 to 18 to become involved. While livestock husbandry is what 4-H clubs are most known for, there are also many clubs within this organization which focus on hunting, fishing, shooting sports, vocational trade skills, gardening, sewing, etc.
If you allow your children to have handheld screens, strongly consider either pitching them entirely or vastly cutting down on the amount of time the kids spend sitting twiddling their thumbs on the devices or playing video games.
There are far more enticing, enlightening, entertaining, and educational activities kids should be doing with their time, especially prepper kids. Reading is fun and sparks imagination and activity. Even those children who do not yet foster a love of reading or are too young to read can easily become great fans of the written word when the material selected for them to read or have read to them is engaging and awe inspiring.
Self-Reliance Books For Kids Interested In Prepping
- 52 Prepper’s Projects for Parents and Kids
- I Survived
- If We Survive
- Into the Forest
- Nature Girl
- Prepper Pete Prepares
- Survivalist Sam Stocks Up
- The American Boy’s Handy Book
- Willy Whitefeather’s Outdoor Survival Handbook for Kids
No one knows your children better than you do. Start or enhance hobbies that each child could really dig into that will also teach them prepping skills. Introducing new activities and hobbies into the lives of the kids to get them interested in prepping is also a grand idea.
Self-Reliance Related Hobby Ideas
- Flint Knapping
- Hydro Power
- Outdoor Cooking
- Solar Power
- Wind Power
10. Movies and TV Shows
Watch age appropriate survival movies and TV shows with the kiddos to get them more interested in prepping. Even if some of the SHTF scenarios in the prepper movies and survival TV shows are far-fetched, focus the attention of the children on how the people and society as a whole react to the disaster.
Not only could the kids (and possibly adults too) learn something from the prepper movies and TV shows, but watching them together can also spark conversations about the tactics and lifestyle in the program along with chats about what prepping is and why the family is focused upon it.
Top Prepper TV Shows and Movies
- 127 Hours
- A Cry in the Wild
- A Man Called Horse
- Aftershock: Earthquake in New York
- Andromeda Strain
- Dante’s Peak
- I Am Legend
- Into the Storm
- Lord of the Flies
- Swiss Family Robinson
- The 100
- The Stand
- The Strain
- The Walking Dead
- Under The Dome
Make family game night both a fun evening to look forward to and yet another chance to teach the kids more about survival to get them interested in prepping. Some of the games on the list below are geared to older children, but younger ones should be able to grasp the concepts with the aid of an adult or older sibling – while some can be enjoyed by the children on their own.
- Animal Tracks
- Edible Wilderness and Wilderness Survival
- Knot Tying
- Maximum Apocalypse
- Outdoor Survival Skills
- The Farming Game
- Urban Survival
- Walking Dead: The Best Defense
- Wilderness Survival
- Worst Case Scenario
- Would You Survive If
Choose toys that also foster greater self-reliance, independence, and critical thinking skills to help get your kids interested in prepping. In addition to purchasing some of the great toys for prepper kids on this list, consider working with the children to make more of their own toys to teach frugality and wise use of natural resources, and to offer them the chance to earn a sense of pride by accomplishing a task.
Many of these suggested toys will coincide well with the recommended hobbies above as well as extension activities to complete after watching some of the noted survival TV shows and movies.
- Adventure Awaits wooden bow and arrow kit
- Boy Craft Catapult Wars
- KNEX Simple Machines, Levers, and Pulleys
- Kratfic Deluxe Carpentry and Woodworking Kit
- Made By Me wooden vehicles set
- Nature Series Tracking Expedition
- Rubber Band Engineer – slingshots and rockets building set
- Tinkering Labs Electric Motors
- Woodland Friends Sewing Kit
- Young Builders
13. Prepping Events
Take the kids to family friendly prepping events to immerse them in the self-reliant culture in a positive way and to spend time learning skills and mingling with other like-minded families. A copious amount of prepper expos exist across the country, but there are only a few prepper, survival, or survival homesteading events that offer real classes and hands-on training for attendees – and just one with classes geared especially for children.
Each year when these special prepping events occur, thousands of folks from around the country travel to Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee where they are held for a family long weekend or full week prepping theme vacation.
- Old School Survival Boot Camp – This event takes place in early May in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio. The 3-day hands-on survival homesteading and prepping event includes both well-known prepper personalities and highly skilled local folks. Children are welcome to attend any class with their parents and engage in the offered activities, but courses designed just for the kids interested in prepping typically include: martial arts, archery, sheep shearing, sewing, foraging, bushcrafting, fiber arts, and homeschooling activities. The group also offers a year round virtually learning groups complete with homeschool or prepper family extension activities, ebooks, radio shows, and online courses that are free for members of the Old School Survival Network.
- Prepper Camp – This 3-day hands-on prepper event takes place in Saluda, North Carolina in late September. Survivalist Gardener Rick Austin and his wife Survivor Jane spearhead the event that includes many notable and expert preppers from around the country teaching a broad range of courses in an interactive manner.
- Heritage Life Skills – This event is held in late May not far from Saluda, North Carolina and is hosted by Carolina Readiness Supply. Interactive learning and hands-on courses by experts in their subject matter teach and interact with attendees to help them learn new survival skills and hone existing ones.
- Bushcraft Gatherings – The two most amazing bushcraft gatherings are held near Columbus, Ohio in October – Central Ohio Bushcraft Gathering and in Watkinsville, Georgia in November. Attendees can chat and learn from the best bushcraft experts from around the country and enjoy hanging out around a massive campfire in the evenings with a very welcoming bushcraft community.
- Kentucky Prepper Network – This close knit group of folks are extremely welcoming to newbies either to prepping or their group. They hold regular trainings and gatherings several times a year and also operate an online virtual network for making connections and training year round.
- The Prepping Expo – This Murfreesboro event is part traditional expo and part training – but all fun for the entire family. It is held annually in early May.
14. Spend Time Together
The simple act of merely spending more time together can also help to get the children more interested in prepping. Allow the children to not only see all the work that you do helping the family to become more self-reliant but let them help in the projects, purchasing, and planning as well.
Let the children know that they get to keep warm in the winter because you spend some of the hottest afternoons in the summer chopping, splitting, and stacking firewood. Teach them how to build a fire, work the charcoal grill, and help with the tanning of hides, butchering of meat, and any of the other things you do on a regular basis to prepare for what may come.
Teach the children how to purify drinking water, take a first aid or Krav Maga class together, make an obstacle course in the backyard or purchase a Ninja slackline and set it for fun-filled afternoons of physical endurance training.
The idea of your children or grandchildren being forced to survive without you or being your legs and hands because you are injured or have become ill is a horribly frightening thing to ponder. But the alternative to not getting the kids interested in prepping and enhancing their emotional, mental, and physical skill levels is a far more horrific thought to consider.
If you recall any major natural disaster that has occured in our lifetimes alone, children left to their own devices for even a small amount of time or forever because they have suddenly become orphans is a running tragic theme in the aftermath. Such disasters do not occur just in third world countries, they happen right here in America as well.
Getting your children interested in prepping and preparing them does not mean scaring them. Introducing prepping, survival, and homesteading skills to your children is what good parents who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure the health and well-being of their kids should do.
Start small with lifestyle changes in the daily lives of your little ones and follow the recommendations outlined here so your efforts result in smiles and curiosity and not nightmares about zombies under the bed.
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