As a parent, it didn’t take me long to realize that I was different.
Like the other parents, I also realized that the world is full of dangers (and is quickly getting worse).
But, where all of the other parents were doing everything in their power to shield their kids from the dangers, I felt compelled to prepare my child.
In fact, I feel an obligation to make sure my child knows how to survive when SHTF.
Teaching Your Children the Survival Mentality – It is Never Too Early!
Survivalism isn’t about knowing a bunch of tricks (though that certainly helps). Survival readiness is a mentality.
And, while a 2-year old won’t be ready to light a fire or read a map, it is never too early to teach your kids the survivalist mentality.
It can be really challenging to teach your kids the survival mentality. It means telling them that bad things do happen, that there are bad people in the world, and that things aren’t as stable as they seem.
These are cruel life lessons. But, trust me, kids can handle it. And not telling them is much crueler because they will be unprepared when bad things do occur.
Aside from teaching my daughter specific survival skills, here are some of the things I do to teach her the survival mentality:
- Take her out of her comfort zone: Whereas some parents never take their kids out of a 3-block radius of their homes, my daughter goes to all sorts of places. This includes the great outdoors, big cities, the metro, ethnic restaurants… By going to as many different places as possible, my daughter has learned to be comfortable and find herself in multiple settings, with multiple types of people.
- Ask her what she thinks should be done to solve problems: I want to encourage critical thinking skills in my daughter. If I am always telling her what to do, then she isn’t going to learn to think for herself. So, when a problem arises, I ask her what we should do. Even at 5, she was able to make decisions like whether we should wait for the next bus or walk. These aren’t life-or-death decisions, but they do build the survival mentality.
- Letting her explore, fall, and sometimes get hurt: As a parent, it is really hard to watch your child get hurt. But this is how we learn important life lessons. For example, there is one mom at the park who never lets her kid climb on the playground equipment because she is too worried that he will fall and get hurt. As a result of being coddled, the kid is one of the most uncoordinated 5 year olds I’ve ever seen. Yes, he could fall. But the chances of him dying or getting seriously injured are practically zero. So, before you tell your kid not to run, jump, climb, etc. out of fear that he/she might get hurt, think of the bigger picture instead!
8 Survival Skills Your Kids Need to Know NOW
How to Build a Fire
When my daughter was 3, I taught her how to make a safe fire pit by surrounding it by rocks (and to be careful lifting the rocks when in snake country!), and how to make the “tee pee” out of sticks.
When she turned 5, I let her light the fire – with supervision, of course! If she is ever lost in the wilderness, she will be able to stay warm, keep wild animals away, and signal for help with the fire.
How to Read a Map
Do you know about the sport Orienteering? It is a race where you have to use a map and a compass to get to certain points in the fastest amount of time. My dad took me Orienteering when I was a kid. I think I was about 6 when we started, and was running through the woods by myself when I was 7.
Start by taking your kids out the first few times. LET THEM GET LOST! Then let them find their way back again. Once they are versed in map reading, you can let them go out on their own.
You can find a local Orienteering club at their website here.
What to Do If They Get Lost
Make a safety plan and go over it with your kids! Otherwise, they will likely panic when they get lost and it could lead to disastrous outcomes. Here is what they need to know:
- When lost in the wilderness: Stay put! Do not go anywhere unless you have a specific reason to do so (like recognizing a landmark or going to a water source). The more they wander in hopes of finding their way back, the more lost they are likely to get.
- When lost in public places: Stop and observe! Often, the parents are just a few yards away. If the kids immediately panic and start running around looking for you, they will likely just get more lost. If they cannot find you within a few minutes of waiting, they should seek out an adult. First look for police officers. If none are around, then they should (ideally) approach a woman with children and ask for help.
What to Do During a Home Invasion
This is every parent’s worst nightmare – and a nightmare which unfortunately happens quite frequently. I recommend that you make a home invasion plan and run test drills with your children.
In the ideal situation, your children will sleep on the same floor as you (such as everyone being on the second floor). Then, if you suspect an intruder is on the first floor or outside, you could gather everyone in your “safe” room and call 911.
If you are unable to gather everyone in a safe room, then you need to have a code word or other signal which can be used from across the home. At the signal, the children should know to HIDE and not come out.
How to Find Drinkable Water
If your children ever get lost in the wilderness, they can go without food for weeks – but they will need water if they are going to survive. The problem is that most natural water sources are contaminated. This could lead to diarrhea, which in turn could lead to dehydration and death.
As soon as your children master the art of making a fire, you can teach them how to boil water to purify it.
But, there is a chance that your kids aren’t going to have a pot for boiling water if they ever get lost in the wilderness or are in a similar survival situation.
Teach them how to locate the safest sources of water – such as to drink water from the moving parts of streams and not from stagnant areas.
Also teach them tricks like using a piece of cloth to absorb dew and moisture from plants, and then wringing it out into a bottle or directly into their mouths.
To SCREAM, kick and fight!
If you ever go to a self-defense class, one of the first things you are going to learn and practice is screaming. The same applies to many martial arts.
Unfortunately, most people don’t send their kids to self-defense classes. Instead, we train our kids to be quiet, obedient, and listen to our elders.
So if your kids are in a threatening situation (being attacked, raped, kidnapped…), they might freeze up and become passive.
This is NOT what we want them to do.
As Safe Women and Girls points out,
“the biggest obstacle that most survivors report is the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response to trauma. Many women report that they didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late and then they were in such shock they were unable to think clearly or act in the way they would have thought they should.”
Teach your kids to SCREAM if they feel they are in a threatening situation.
If screaming doesn’t save them, they should fight back with everything they have!
Fighting back (no matter how seemingly hopeless because the attacker is bigger, stronger) could earn them a few extra seconds, during which time someone notices the struggle and is able to help.
Go ahead and get your kids into martial arts classes so they can practice this.
Recommended Reading – Essential Guide To Self Defense
How many of these survival skills do your kids know? Are you preparing your kids for survival? Let us know in the comments.
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This is phenomenal! I was always treated as an ‘outcast’ or a mother to stay away from because I raised my daughter in this way. People thought I was dangerous to children. My daughter never had many friends growing up because she was always outside doing things alone or with me because there were no other kids outside. During summer breaks from school, I would also send her to ‘wilderness camp’. She now lives in northern British Columbia. She even goes camping alone. She has been exposed to so much growing up, that today, she is a remarkable (and mentally stable, not afraid of anything) woman.
Love this – great things happen when we stay true to ourselves.
Great article! I had never heard of Orienteering. I am now signed up in three states!
Taking action is all that is required, well done Jacki and hope you enjoy the orienteering.