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How To Motivate Your Children To The Top Of The Mountain | George Fisher

Written by George Fisher

Jen Grange is our Families and Wellbeing Ambassador and mum to a 5 and 7 year old.  She lives in the northern Lake District and is committed to inspiring children and families to get outdoors, connect with nature and have adventures!

Here are Jen's top tips for getting your children to the summit...

We’ve all been there at some point; dragging a reluctant little person who would rather be watching Frozen or the Lego Movie out on a ‘fun’ family walk, probably in some traditional Lakeland weather! It can be a bit like pulling teeth; constant whining, ‘are we nearly there yet?’ or sitting down and refusing to move!

So, what can you do to create a positive, harmonious and fun family experience? Here are my top tips.

  1. Frame the experience before you leave. Explain that you are going on an adventure and get them to help you decide where to go. Ask them what they think they will need to take. Get them to pack it in a bag (that you can carry if it gets a bit much.)
  1. Children love a story so tell them a local legend or folk tale – or make it up! Have them try to find a character on the way up. You could even carry some clues in your pocket. We live in Newlands Valley and have spent literally hours looking for Mrs Tiggywinkle with the help of some pocket handkerchiefs (stolen from Grandpa!). If you are in Scotland it is always fun to try to spot a haggis!
  1. Keep them entertained on the way up and they won’t have time to think about being tired or bored. Try the classics such as I-spy or guess who. Talk to them about mountaineering heroes or other adventurous icons. Or chat about the things they are interested in, be it unicorns, Vikings or Harry Potter (our favourite subjects at the moment) or, who would win in a fight, a polar bear and a peregrine falcon or a giant pterodactyl with one leg..! (Please tell me other parents have conversations like these!)

  1. Plan regular breaks and get them to decide when they will be, e.g. every 20 minutes or at a prominent feature. Empowering your children to make these decisions makes them feel in control of the situation and makes them more likely to engage. It’s up to you to decide if each stop involves a motivational snack or sweet.
  1. Take plenty of (healthy) snacks. Little bodies run out of energy quickly and don’t always have reserves. We find that our home-made flapjack gives a slow release of energy and doesn’t have too much sugar in it!
  1. Get older children to map read and path find. There is nothing more empowering than being in charge of the map.

 Mostly, know your limits. If, for whatever reason it isn’t working out (weather/tiredness/just got out of the wrong side of bed), adapt your plans and pick your battles. You will know your children well enough to know when to push them or not. Don’t let your drive or ego get in the way. You want to create a positive experience for them, so they want to go again! Happy walking!