Teaching Children Survival Skills

Assuming you are interested in preparing for an uncertain future, at what age did you first get involved with it?

Many of us did not get started on preparing until we were in our 40s or older. We were seeing the direction the country was going and we kept hearing about and experiencing extreme weather situations that were causing blackouts.

We decided that depending on the government to save us when things got bad was not a good plan. So, little by little, many of us started stockpiling survival food and water, as well as other items, and began honing our survival skills.

Others of us were luckier. We had parents who were concerned about the future and had the foresight to teach us as children about the importance of getting ready and staying ready for an emergency.

It may or may not be too late for you to teach your children about preparedness. If it isn’t, it would be wise to get moving on that as soon as possible.

But even if it is, perhaps you can have a good influence on your grandchildren. Maybe you can teach them how to prepare and how to learn survival skills they could end up using someday to save their lives or the lives of their family members.

If you’ve decided to share some of your preparedness knowledge and experience with a child or grandchild, the first thing you want to do is determine their level of maturity. It’s important to give them age-appropriate information that will convince them to take this seriously without becoming fearful.

Kids will be able to handle differing amounts of advice and different levels of survival tactics based on their age and maturity. For the sake of this communication, we’ll assume that the child is between 8 and 14 years of age.

Here are nine survival skills they should learn now – before they need to use them. Practicing them regularly will mean they’ll be ready to act quickly and effectively once the time comes to deal with a crisis.

First-Aid. This could be the single most important survival skill children can learn. Treating their own or another person’s injury might be crucial following a disaster. Learning to perform CPR, treating burns and using a splint would give them valuable skills that could come in handy. A Red Cross class or Boy Scout first-aid book would make for a practical and potentially life-saving gift.

Fire Starting. Most kids love fires, so you shouldn’t have any problem talking them into learning how to start one. There are many ways to start a fire, and they should be taught a number of them because who knows which materials they’ll have with them when the time comes to do it for real? This is also a great time to teach fire safety, including the dangers that come with irresponsible actions in this area.

Shelter Building. A child doesn’t need to know how to raise a barn, but kids should learn how to put together a temporary shelter that will protect them from the elements. This is something you could work on in a nearby woodsy area, or bring back items from the woods and practice in the backyard.

Outdoor Cooking. Long gone are the days when only men hunted and only women cooked. Regardless of whether your children or grandchildren are boys or girls, they each need to learn how to do both. Being able to cook meat, vegetables and other food items outdoors could end up being what sustains them and others in a bug-out situation.

Handling Tools. You might not want to put a jackhammer into the hands of an 8-year-old, but many kids can learn how to use hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and even a saw very well. Depending on the child’s age, introducing a survival knife and its many uses will also be a big help to them as they learn about survival in the wild.

Self-Defense. I smile when I see kids walk out of karate class with their white uniforms and white belts. But what they are learning at a tender age could have long-lasting positive effects if they keep up their training and progress to higher belt levels. By enrolling children or grandchildren in self-defense courses, you’ll be helping them learn to protect what is theirs.

Firearm Safety. This is one where you really have to make sure the child is old enough and mature enough to handle a weapon. Better to err of the side of caution here. But once children have proven they are capable of handling a firearm, they need to be taught everything about the gun, including how to clean it and keep it out of the reach of other kids.

Situational Awareness. This is a more challenging skill to teach because it comes so naturally to some kids and so slowly to others. The key is to make them understand that everything that happens around them at any given time could make a big difference when it comes to survival. They can also learn, in advance, how to respond to different threatening situations.

Stay Calm. Again, different kids will find it easier than others to remain calm in a stressful situation. But all of them need to discover that they will be more effective in dealing with a crisis if they are not panicking. They’ll make their best decisions when they stay calm and think through the situation rationally.

None of us can go back in time and learn about preparedness when we were young. But perhaps we can teach children or grandchildren survival skills that could benefit them for the rest of their lives.


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