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What can I do to trick my son into walking longer distances? (At the moment he stops after less than 100 yards.)
It has to be something he wants to do, so there has to be something in it for him. And I’m not talking about candy or ice-cream or new toys, I mean fun. The environment he’s walking in needs to stimulate him in such a way that he’s not thinking about the tedious process of putting one foot in front of the other. Go to a park with trees and sticks to pick up and play with. All boys love picking up sticks and waving them around — it’s innate behavior.
The next step is to introduce a challenge. My family has easy access to the English Lake District and we needed to get the whole walking thing ingrained at an early age so that we could make full use of that opportunity as soon as our boys were old enough.
Our lifesaver in this regard was a book featuring walks in our local area which are specifically aimed at children. We bought the book just before our younger son’s fourth birthday and challenged them to complete all 20 of the walks, which range from one to 5 miles in length and feature a variety of terrain with things to look out for along the way.
It took us about 15 months to achieve the goal, by which time they had become enthusiastic walkers ready for proper mountain hikes up the highest peaks in England. Hopefully you can find a similar book relating to your locality.
Another important thing to consider is that if a child says they are tired, it means they are bored. No child has ever been tired after walking half a mile, but many will say they are. Our eldest was terrible for this and he would tell us he was exhausted and that his legs hurt, until he saw a tree to climb and then he was running across a field to reach it. When they say they are not tired, that’s when you know that they actually are.
Simon Crump’s writing has been published by Slate and Thought Catalog. You can read more from Quora here: