Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What to do if your child fears the outdoors

Sometimes, young children don’t walk to hike with you because they’re afraid of being in a unfamiliar place … especially one that seems alien, given how many children spend most of their time indoors these days.

Generally, however, if a parent feels safe and comfortable about a hike, so will your kids.

Those children experiencing fear in the wilds often don’t become frightened until in the woods. Darkness, strange noises, lack of people and heights all may trigger their fears.

To help kids overcome their fear of being in the wilds, pair up so everyone has a “hiking partner.” Partners will encourage one another through the rough parts of the hike and watch each other so they don’t get hurt. Finally, never push children into doing something they don’t want to do, such as climbing a rock, walking along a cliff edge, or wading into water. There’s no need to raise their anxiety levels.

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.