While hiking in Boise, Idaho, I enjoyed one of the most precious bonding experiences I've ever had with my two year-old daughter. Above a historic penitentiary is a steep winding trail over looking the Treasure Valley.
Exploring the natural world around me has always been one of my most beloved past times. As a parent my greatest joy is being the one to expose my child to the wonders of life. I watched as my child discovered something new with each little foot step and was very impressed with her endurance. She jogged along behind me, falling occasionally, but bouncing back just as quickly.
Occasionally she would loose the trail, wandering in tall grass, getting confused and tangled up. I would stand still and tell her to find the trail and keep going. She stayed determined without whining or complaining as she found the trail and continued on. I was filled with pride for my young daughter as she conquered the uneven path. It was her first hike so I didn't push her too hard. We climbed approximately a mile, passing lovely little flowers and greenery.
I was surprised when we stopped for water and my daughter was the one who sprung of the bench and said "I keep walking, mommy!" It was a remarkably pleasant event! I learned a little more about my daughter and about myself. My top five recommendations for anyone thinking of taking their toddler on a similar venture would be the following:
1.) Cover the knees:
the excitement of it all certainly adds to their already excessive clumsiness
2.) Point out the little things:
they'll be fascinated by the flowers, the rocks, the deer tracks, etc.
the details of nature can be like another universe to a child
3.) Make them work:
children now-a-days rarely have to endure a physically demanding activity
unless somebody requires it of them, don't be afraid to challenge your little trooper
it will make them a better person in the end
4.) Clap your hands say yeah!:
praise them for their hard work throughout the journey and at the end
clap your hands, shout for joy, cheer them on
help them understand what they have accomplished
you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
5.) Come again:
not every outing will go smoothly, (duh) but if you make it a regular family activity
your children will look forward to these adventures and cherish the memories
for years to come!