Equipping children with the core skills for survival, such as making fire, shelter and boiling water, can not only be a great family bonding activity, but also a test of their personal resolve. Such activities force children to come face to face with the harsh realities of making a fire without a lighter or perhaps making a shelter in the rain. Will they give up or will they press on? This develops their survival mindset and gives us an opportunity as parents and guardians to teach them about personal awareness and survival psychology regardless of their decision.

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All of this information should be practiced as regularly as possible to give our children an opportunity for personal growth and skills improvement. But when should you start teaching your child these skills? That will depend largely on when you get a solid grasp of the skills yourself. If you are just beginning to learn survival and preparedness skills and have tweens and teenagers, then you might consider prodding them to join you in the learning experience. However, if you have younger children, especially those in grade school, then the time is now; they will jump at the chance to spend time learning survival stuff with mom and dad. Regardless of the age of your children, you should realize that it’s as important for them to learn the skills as it is for you. What if, for example, you as the leader of the family became ill, injured or, worse yet, do not make it through the initial crisis event—what will the children have left to depend on besides the gear you have amassed? Knowledge weighs nothing, so the more they know now as youngsters, the less gear they will have to become dependent upon as adults.

Family Response

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If you’ve done your part as a parent, they will share your concerns and develop an awareness of these same issues, and will then begin conveying similar concerns and awareness back to you. Is there fear involved in your preparedness routine? It depends on your family dynamic. If you appear afraid of a given situation, kids are very keen on reading your reactions; therefore you will obviously be conveying fear to your children, which will in turn make them afraid and perhaps harder to wrangle back in during an actual crisis event. If, however, you use the situation as a teaching moment, even though you may be afraid, you share rational intelligence about what you as a family will be doing to overcome the obstacle, thereby instilling confidence and faith in your endeavor, which will replace fearful reactions with purpose-driven, problem-solving reactions.

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So, how do we actually approach teaching survival skills to our kids? We educate (tell them), demonstrate (show them) and have them imitate (do it themselves). It’s not that much different from teaching adults really, save for the fact that children, for the most part, often lack the strength to perform certain survival skills and often require consistent reinforcement of a concept before they get it for themselves.

Practice makes perfect, and above all, patience and love should be given by the boat load. We want our kids to learn these survival skills, and the last thing we want to do is give them a bad learning experience with us while doing it. While there will be discouragement, we must instill a can-do attitude and constantly remind them to persevere and never give up, for their life or that of another loved one may one day depend on it. You should prepare your children to deal with an emergency situation now.


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This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE ™ Spring 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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