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Motivating children to go hiking
The best tips and tricks.
The fresh air, the wonderful view, physical exercise... While for many adults there is hardly anything more beautiful than hiking, many children make a long face just at the sight of the mountain boots. That's obvious, isn't it? The idea of walking behind the grown-ups for hours on end and being constantly urged to hurry doesn't sound very appealing. Read on to find out how you can turn a hike into an experience for the whole family and make sure everyone(!) has a lot of fun. We have put together the five ultimate tips for you:
See the world through children's eyes
Children's legs and patience are shorter and their interests quite different from those of us adults: If a hike with children is to be a success, the first thing that helps is a change of perspective. Because children don't care much about summit names and metres in altitude. Physically, of course, they can't keep up with us grown-ups either. Their sense of time is also quite different. That's why we recommend that you lower your expectations and focus on your child's needs and limits. Because it's an old mountaineering rule: the weakest member of the group sets the pace.
Choose the right tour
Hours of climbing, monotonous paths? Better not! Well planned is half hiked. Make sure that the first hike is short. Because "Too bad, it's over already!" is much better than "Will we be there soon?". You can use this formula as a rule of thumb: Age equals distance in kilometres times 1.5, so a 7.5 kilometre walk would be suitable for a five-year-old child. You should also make sure there is enough variety. Alternating between woods and meadows, sticks and stones will provide enough excitement. Always a good idea: choose one of the many family hiking trails in Val Gardena/Gröden for your first family hike, e.g. the PanaRaida nature adventure trail, the forest animal trail in Ortisei or a trip to the Stone City. You can find even more inspiration here.
Little helpers for big adventures
With the right equipment, the fun will come all by itself. Maybe your child can choose his or her own little rucksack for the holiday? A drinking bottle or snack box with funny figures on it can also be motivating. A disposable camera or small binoculars are perfect for little explorers and the curious. Equipped like this, your little darling has a "task" during the hike and boredom doesn't stand a chance!
Tell me something!
What was that story again about the dwarfs and giants who live behind the mountains? Why don't you make up a little story and tell it while you're hiking? It's even more fun if you all make up stories together. Maybe you also know something about plants and would like to pass on your knowledge to your child in a playful way. When the legs are getting heavy and the motivation to hike is sinking fast, a cheerful song or a rhyme usually helps. The ultimate classic: "And one, and two and three and four and five and six and seven: A hat, a stick, an umbrella. And forward, backward, sideways, stop!"
The good old bribe
This last tip may not be pedagogically sound, but it works just about every time. For adults, too, by the way. Because the prospect of a treat around the next bend or a hearty delicacy at the top of the mountain pasture often releases undreamt-of strength. By the way: Taking children on a hike without snacks and drinks is a mistake you only make once. Make sure you always have enough "trail food" in your luggage.