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Thread: Teaching a toddler survival skills

  1. #1

    Default Teaching a toddler survival skills

    I am due with my first child in January. I want him to learn all of the survival, prepping, and homesteading skills that he can. I think the most affective way to teach him will be to simultaneously teach survival skills while he learns basic skills like walking and talking. How early can i teach him certain skills? I want to peak his interest in survival as early as possible, but Im going to be a single mom and I am still concerned about safety. Id say my biggest fear is teaching him fire making, which i think is neccesary to learn in the toddler years. But what if he starts fires when im not around? Is it too soon? Id like the opinion of survivalists, because other moms are way too paranoid and coddle their kids, their opinion means nothing to me.


  2. #2

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    Assuming you're idea of toddler years is 1-3, I think you're getting way ahead of the game.

    Wanna help the little one? Stimulate his brain with talk, questions, and body language. He'll develop learning skills and when the little one is ready skills you are talking about.
    Last edited by madmax; 08-04-2016 at 01:33 PM.

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    What we consider "survival skills" was a "normal every day life" for American Indians and countless other peoples around the world for thousands of years. They didnt know the difference because their only goal was to live.

    If you live the life you want to teach your child, they will not know that lifestyle as strange.
    - Fire making will be necessary to eat and stay warm, not something to be played with.
    - Shelter building will be necessary for camping and become natural for him because he has grown up watching and helping you

    Take him out to the woods as soon as possible and let him watch you prepare camp and enjoy wilderness. Let him watch you catch/clean/cook fish and even go hunting with you. As soon as he is able to walk he will want to "help" you and then you can start teaching things like respect for the outdoors and the tools you use, such as - fire is hot, knives are sharp, etc...

    By the time he reaches his teens he will be you little buddy and more than likely be as skilled as you are. After he reaches his teens all bets are off, hormones take over but everything you have taught him will help guide him to the right decisions.

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    Senior Member natertot's Avatar
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    Hi Survival Mama,

    I think you have the right idea, just your path to achieve it needs to be readjusted a little. But, first things first. Congrats on the new one about to come and I applaud you for your efforts as a single mom. As a guy who grew up in a crappy situation, I can tell you that a good male role is paramount for the little one whether it be a uncle, grandparent, or friend of the family. The male role model is instrumental in so many ways that I could fill up a whole thread on that alone!

    Next, you need to focus on preparing for arrival. Make sure you have the initial things for when the child arrives. When the child does arrive, the first things you need to teach it are how to speak, (names, counting, and colors are usually the first basics) and how to walk. There is more to survival than building fires. I am of the opinion it is more important that as a child grows, they understand the importance of hygiene, balanced diet, "stranger danger", and how to remove themselves from a dangerous situation (such as safe street crossing, escaping a house fire, how to use 911, etc). These things are more paramount for survival today than bush craft skills.

    Now, I am not saying that kids can't or shouldn't learn bush craft things. First, every child is different and as a parent, you have to take into considerations their maturity and their abilities. For example, I have to kids, an eight year old daughter and a son who is soon to turn six. Just recently, we have started working with my daughter on how to use a sharp knife. Not because she is immature, but because of her ability. She has always been accident prone and mishaps follow her every where, many times the result of a lack of coordination. My son on the other hand is very coordinated, but I still don't let him try real sharp knives because of his maturity level. He listens quite well, but he tends to not grasp the full understanding of many dangers, including knives. As a parent, you have to figure out what they are and aren't ready for but this doesn't mean you can't expose them or teach them things. As Grizz said, you do it and let them see. Kids under five learn most of what they know through observation and you can have them help in small ways. My son use to follow me with the bag of stakes when I put up a tent, handing me one as I requested and he felt like a huge helper. He now has a small junior tent he puts up on his own when ever he wants to play camping. Likewise, I do not give him or my daughter the lighter or the matches, but they help gather kindling and build the initial structure for the fire to be lit.

    As age increases, so does ability, coordination, and maturity. If you present appropriate outdoor concepts then they will achieve them and be ready for more. Similar to the way you teach a toddler to count but then in elementary school they learn addition, subtraction, multiplication and division then later on they will learn algebra.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that kids like to spill the beans. My daughter has her own rifle, but I have had to limit her use on it because she kept talking about it a little too much. I was concerned that an anti-gun daycare worker or school teacher would catch wind and I would be turned into child services. She is ready for her .22, but I really don't want to go through all that crap to prove my way of parenting isn't detrimental and risk losing some of my professional licensing.

    I know you asked a question hoping for a more black and white answer. Unfortunately, your question doesn't merit one. I hope I gave you some food for thought that will help you wade through what you seek too accomplish.

    Welcome to the forum, btw!
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I raised both of my children on a homestead where survival skills were a daily requirement. Survival skills in the form of learning to follow instructions, observe and ask questions.

    What does a toddler need to know about survival? They need to know that when Mom says leave something alone, don't touch the stove, not to go into the shed or even to stand still for a moment they should listen and obey. It is not a parental control thing, following instructions is a survival mechanism.

    The world is filled with dangers toddlers can not evaluate. The parent has to do the decision making and when the parent says "Don't move!" the toddler should not move or turn to ask "Why?". Why is because you are about to step on a snake, about to fall in a well, or about to be hit by a falling tree limb.

    They can ask why, and you can explain after the crisis is over.

    Other things are optional and will depend on the maturity, intelligence and learning rate of the child. You will set those base lines and goals as the child grows. You will also use them as motivational tools to obtain compliance and learn delayed gratification and responsibility.

    I have an acquaintance whose dumb a$$ 9 year old burned the house down playing with a lighter. He would have set the entire world on fire as a toddler! Kids don't need access to fire! They do not need access to the firearms, the sharp knives or the pot of boiling water on the stove. They do not need to run with scissors or any of the other common sense survival skills everyone should know before they start kindergarten.

    The years from birth to 4 are filled with survival skills like potty training, learning not to put everything they touch in their mouths, learning to use a fork, learning to stay inside the lines with a crayon, learning to count to 100 and ABCs, and if the kid is really bright some reading skills. Along with that is the before mentioned start, stop, wait and don't touch skills.

    And there are the very profitable "how to behave in public skills" that all adults in your contact zone will appreciate and give you bonus parent points on even if they never say a word about your well behaved child.

    If you accomplish all that, and it sticks, the entire world will thank you, and your child will probably survive.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizz123 View Post
    What we consider "survival skills" was a "normal every day life" for American Indians and countless other peoples around the world for thousands of years. They didnt know the difference because their only goal was to live.

    If you live the life you want to teach your child, they will not know that lifestyle as strange...
    As said, it's too early to teach much. But the thing to do at this age is just make the outdoor wild environment familiar. Just go out there often, doing this and that. That's how to start at that age.
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    The optimist expects it to change;
    The realist adjusts the sails.

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    Congrats on your new addition....
    I think it's great you are already thinking about the future....but also think that the priorities list.....those skills are a ways down.

    You keep referring to your child a "Him" ....and you may very well know that......
    BUT
    Life has a way of giving you reality that has nothing to do with your plans....you still need to be ready deal with this new life on those terms.

    Don't rush......life happens...enjoy it.....trying to force thing too early rarely works......live your life.... a bring him along with your goal in mind.
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    I think everyone had provided great advice. I am on my sixth toddler right now. Toddlers are exhausting. At least I have older children that I can tell to take their baby sister to the park for an hour.

    I have never tried to teach toddlers survival skills. That is the time to teach potty training, "don't touch that" and the big one "NO". They don't learn the "no" lesson until they are in their 20's.....hopefully. I would never give a toddler a knife, or a lighter or matches. Of course, the lighter or matches are pretty safe in the hands of a toddler. They lack the strength and coordination to do anything with them. But, sucking on matches or a lighter is probably not good for their health. When they are 5 or 6, I start with knife skills. Mostly this revolves around cutting fruit. Peeling potatoes is definitely taught around 5, but a potato peeler isn't that sharp. Cutting potatoes into cubes is probably the first knife skill I teach them, and this depends on their coordination, but 6 or 7 is probably about when I start. Around 7 I start with the basic carving skills. At 8, I get them their first pocket knife. By then, I have already taught them knife handling and safety. Of course, infractions get the knife taken away for a period of time. 8 is also the right time to start fire starting. This is when they can understand the hows and whys...and have the thumb strength for a lighter (not always), or the coordination for matches. Fire lighting is always done under supervision. They don't get to touch lighters or matches without an adult present. However, if I let them play with the matches and lighter somewhat frequently, their curiosity is met and they don't have the desire to play with them if I am not present. Also, when we have a campfire, I let them (against moms wishes) to poke the end of sticks in the fire. Every kid will do this for hours and hours and hours ......... and then get bored and won't really do it much anymore. Since I let my kids do it when they are 5 and older..... when they get to be 12, they don't do it. But, when I take new scouts (12 year old boys) camping, they will do it for a few campouts.... and then they will stop as well. I have even seen 16 and 17 year old girls do it..... until they get bored. They never got to do it when they were younger!
    This is the same approach I use with guns as well. I let them hold and handle my firearms when they ask to. This only happens when I am present. It gives me a time to teach safety (they are actually listening then) and it satisfies their curiosity. I also take them shooting frequently. They learn quickly that a gun is dangerous, but not mysterious, and that all they have to do to "play" with one is ask dad, and he will most likely let them, under supervision. Now, with my older teenagers, they are starting to get specific training on what to do with a home invasion if I am not there. I had a great time with my 15 year old daughter at the range last week.
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    I must amend my previous thoughts.

    Over night I remembered a decision we made for the grandchildren that were not in the cards for my children.

    When the grandchildren came along we had a pool.

    My grandchildren were swimming before they were walking and it was done purposely as a survival/life sustaining decision. We wanted to insure that if one of the toddlers fell into the pool they could get to the shallow end and get out.

    Almost every city/community has a toddler swimming program and every parent should take advantage of that.

    It is a true and direct survival skill you can pass on and give yourself the inner peace of knowing your child can take care of themselves in the water from an early age.
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  10. #10

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    Right on Kyratshooter!

  11. #11

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    I d not now have any toddlers, but my own son grew up where he could run outside on the grass, watch his uncles make cooking fires, play with animals, and where swimming was a skill absorbed through interaction with other children. As he grew up, he began picking up fallen leaves from the yard carrying split wood to the cooking fire, feeding pigs and chickens and helping with other chores. Learning to make fire, cutting grass around the house and helping plant a garden are all "survival" skills that farm children and indigenous peoples have learned for thousands of years without special programs led by certified teachers. My parents grew up on farms and learned this way. Unfortunately, I did not have this opportunity. Interaction with other children and with caring adults is probably the best survival training.

    Without pushing any political agenda, the proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is probably a good one to remember for transmitting what are called survival skills.
    Last edited by Faiaoga; 08-05-2016 at 03:39 PM.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    My goal was always to get my kids out of the village, into the country and raise them myself.
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    Kyrat, I think Faiaoga is meaning that it takes more than just the parents themselves. It also takes other family/and friends. I do understand where you are coming from, but I won't go there so as not to divert the thread into politics. I do agree with your position though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by natertot View Post
    Kyrat, I think Faiaoga is meaning that it takes more than just the parents themselves. It also takes other family/and friends. I do understand where you are coming from, but I won't go there so as not to divert the thread into politics. I do agree with your position though.
    Thank you for clarifying this better than perhaps I did. I liked the quotation about a village helping raise a child, because that was my experience as a teacher and as a parent. My experience in Samoa villages was that family, friends, the local church and neighbors did help one another out and helped watch out for the children. Neighbors did, and still do, help one another without a lot of bureaucracy and regulation. Times change, but the concept of helping one another can still be useful.

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    And then one turns out to be the village idiot and the whole village is to blame.

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    As a mom of past toddlers, I got them outside. I took them camping and even took them outside in our yard. They played in the woods and in the creeks. My son made spectacularly intricate tracks for his hotwheels with dirt, rocks and sticks. Get them outside and having fun. The rest will come with age.
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by natertot View Post
    Hi Survival Mama,

    I think you have the right idea, just your path to achieve it needs to be readjusted a little. But, first things first. Congrats on the new one about to come and I applaud you for your efforts as a single mom. As a guy who grew up in a crappy situation, I can tell you that a good male role is paramount for the little one whether it be a uncle, grandparent, or friend of the family. The male role model is instrumental in so many ways that I could fill up a whole thread on that alone!

    Next, you need to focus on preparing for arrival. Make sure you have the initial things for when the child arrives. When the child does arrive, the first things you need to teach it are how to speak, (names, counting, and colors are usually the first basics) and how to walk. There is more to survival than building fires. I am of the opinion it is more important that as a child grows, they understand the importance of hygiene, balanced diet, "stranger danger", and how to remove themselves from a dangerous situation (such as safe street crossing, escaping a house fire, how to use 911, etc). These things are more paramount for survival today than bush craft skills.

    Now, I am not saying that kids can't or shouldn't learn bush craft things. First, every child is different and as a parent, you have to take into considerations their maturity and their abilities. For example, I have to kids, an eight year old daughter and a son who is soon to turn six. Just recently, we have started working with my daughter on how to use a sharp knife. Not because she is immature, but because of her ability. She has always been accident prone and mishaps follow her every where, many times the result of a lack of coordination. My son on the other hand is very coordinated, but I still don't let him try real sharp knives because of his maturity level. He listens quite well, but he tends to not grasp the full understanding of many dangers, including knives. As a parent, you have to figure out what they are and aren't ready for but this doesn't mean you can't expose them or teach them things. As Grizz said, you do it and let them see. Kids under five learn most of what they know through observation and you can have them help in small ways. My son use to follow me with the bag of stakes when I put up a tent, handing me one as I requested and he felt like a huge helper. He now has a small junior tent he puts up on his own when ever he wants to play camping. Likewise, I do not give him or my daughter the lighter or the matches, but they help gather kindling and build the initial structure for the fire to be lit.

    As age increases, so does ability, coordination, and maturity. If you present appropriate outdoor concepts then they will achieve them and be ready for more. Similar to the way you teach a toddler to count but then in elementary school they learn addition, subtraction, multiplication and division then later on they will learn algebra.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that kids like to spill the beans. My daughter has her own rifle, but I have had to limit her use on it because she kept talking about it a little too much. I was concerned that an anti-gun daycare worker or school teacher would catch wind and I would be turned into child services. She is ready for her .22, but I really don't want to go through all that crap to prove my way of parenting isn't detrimental and risk losing some of my professional licensing.

    I know you asked a question hoping for a more black and white answer. Unfortunately, your question doesn't merit one. I hope I gave you some food for thought that will help you wade through what you seek too accomplish.

    Welcome to the forum, btw!
    Thank you so much for this response!! I totally agree about the strong male role model. My son and I will be living very close to my father, who is very excited to help rsise and teach his grandson. Sometimes the most valuable information is far from black and white, this response gave me a wonderful perspective on parenting amd teaching. Thank you so much for the advice! So glad to join this community!

  19. #19

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    Thank you all for all of your responses! I have a tendency to get a little ahead of myself sometimes! Im just so excited to raise this little monster and Im terrified that he is going to get tempted into the modern world of laziness, entitlement, and instant gratification. But you're all right, I mustn't overplan. Cover the basics first, Walking, talking, not $hitting in his pants. And teach by example for the early years. Like most children, he will develop the interest and skills that he sees demonstrated on a daily basis. Thank you all so much for your input. Im in that crazy, control freak, nervous first time mom phase, so it's very nice to hear from folks with more experience!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SurvivalMama62918 View Post
    Thank you all for all of your responses! I have a tendency to get a little ahead of myself sometimes! Im just so excited to raise this little monster and Im terrified that he is going to get tempted into the modern world of laziness, entitlement, and instant gratification. But you're all right, I mustn't overplan. Cover the basics first, Walking, talking, not $hitting in his pants. And teach by example for the early years. Like most children, he will develop the interest and skills that he sees demonstrated on a daily basis. Thank you all so much for your input. Im in that crazy, control freak, nervous first time mom phase, so it's very nice to hear from folks with more experience!
    Sounds like you are "nesting". My wife did it for every kid.... not just the first one.
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