How To Raise Adventurous Kids
I'm borderline obsessed with this topic. As a father of two young kids, it's quickly become one of my main goals in life to shepherd my children into a lifestyle of boldness, curiosity, rich experiences, travel and discovery. Sure, they're both still in diapers, but the work is already paying off as my kids are more drawn to the outdoors than tablets and they've begun climbing shelves and even jumping off.
I guess it's in their blood. I grew up in action sports and my wife traveled the world in her younger years. Then we met and I decided to propose one day after we jumped out of a plane.
But I realize everyone has to start somewhere, which brings us to the following tips and tricks on raising adventurous youth:
Rub some dirt on it
Kids love dirt and mud and grass stains. Let them make a mess every once in awhile. Play in the rain, throw a rock or two and jump in the pond. Clothes can be replaced.
Let them fall
A little tumble goes a long way. No matter how hard you try, it's irrational to think you'll be able to catch your kid every time they fall. Adventurous kids possess a mental and physical toughness that comes from learning how to pick themselves up and carry on.
Structure is vital, but so is exploration and discovery. Create unstructured play and process that enables your child to tinker and contemplate.
Keep them on their toes by switching up activities, intensities and dialogue. Rather than building the best 7-year-old in the world at one thing, aspire to raise a kid who has a working knowledge of and a curiosity for many things in life. The niche will come, so let it bloom when the time is right.
Separate intimidation from true fear
Approach this tenderly and support your little one as they learn the difference and develop habits that overcome adversity while respecting healthy danger.
Check the motive
If you're all about the trophy, you'll lose the journey.
Know when to say no
Bravery demands a healthy dose of reality. Don't be so bold that you and your child become blind to common sense. The people who adventure the longest know when to, and likely have backed down from the run of a lifetime for circumstances beyond their control. Grow a courage that respects the unknown.
Find the silver lining
When a day goes sideways, discuss the highlights regardless of the disappointment. This instills a faith in tomorrow and second chances.
Celebrate progress big and small
Keep it fun and let your kid know you're proud at every turn.
Overcome it together
Step up to the plate to put your money where your mouth is. An untouchable parent creates an intangible model. Parents need to struggle and overcome things in front of their family if they have any hope of their kids doing the same.
Assess the risk and then take it. Embrace spontaneity and seizing the moment. Everyone needs a snow day.
Explore new places, people and cultures
Ideas shape our youth as much as daily habits. You must expose your children to the wonderful spectrum of the outside world.
Trust what you've taught
Lessons do not actualize until your child uses them. Allow your adventurous child the latitude and liberty to test what you've taught them. If they're sound, they'll adopt them as their own. Your guidelines can and will become their True North when they work in a natural habitat.
Let poor planning run its course
Stop saving the day. A real adventure begins with the unexpected. Problem solving, innovation and perseverance are crucial for any kid - especially an adventurous kid. The second you pull a solution from your pocket, the second they stop thinking for themselves.
Involve them in the brainstorm
When plotting a destination, outing or agenda, invite your child into the mix. Get them to think about the big picture, all of the necessary resources and all the contingencies. Give them a sense of ownership and responsibility in the outcome.
Explore what the special day means to the every day
Use the road trip home or the campfire talk to ask what the big adventure has taught them about the big picture. Each outing is a vehicle to illustrate wisdom for the adventure of life.