When you’re working to be a good prepping family, it’s often easy to focus on what you’re doing for your kids in the area of preparedness and forget about what you need to be teaching your kids in the area of preparedness.
We work hard to be good prepping moms and dads that make sure our kids have food supplies, water supplies, heating supplies etc. so that they’ll not be left un-cared for if the SHTF.
Yesterday while working with our 10-year-old son to clear the pasture of horse poo, I realized that we’ve got some work to do in the area of teaching him to not just be the recipient of our prepping work, but to have the capacity to know what he needs to do on his own in the case of a SHTF scenario.
It was a small situation really, but as our son was driving the (old, rickety) lawn tractor back to the woods (we have a long, narrow 7+ acre lot) he got to the end of the lot, dumped the doo-doo and got back on the tractor to come back to the house. I sat nearby as he tried to start the POS up to no avail.
Then I walked away. “Good luck,” I said. “See you back at the house.”
You see, I realized that whenever he’d had problems starting the tractor before, I’d always sit and coach him on what to do. This is not necessarily a good thing. The first couple of times, yes. After that, not so much. He had enough knowledge to fix the problem on his own and he didn’t necessarily need my help, but being a good mom I’d give it to him anyway. In a way, my failure to let him work it out on his own was hindering him. So I left him alone in the woods and walked away. Being the paranoid mom that I am I didn’t go too far ahead (just far enough to where he couldn’t see me), and soon enough, I heard the engine roar and he was on his way. He fixed the problem. On his own.
The thing about prepping and kids is that eventually they’ll be grown and on their own, without mom and dad at their side. So we need to teach our kids to instinctively know what to do during a SHTF scenario instead of just following mom and dad’s lead.
They teach this in Krav Maga, a type of self-defense that our kids take. It’s called a muscle memory move, and the theory behind it is that if you practice a self-defense move long enough, the body and mind automatically do what needs to be done in a particular hold situation.
We’ve seen the muscle memory move theory prove true with our oldest daughter, who is in her fourth year of Krav Maga lessons. If Rick comes up behind her and puts her in a headlock, she’s got him on the ground within seconds. It doesn’t matter that she’s in the security of her own home, or that she hasn’t been to Krav for a month or that she’s been distracted playing video games. Her muscles have been trained to “when this, do that” and it works like magic when it comes to self defense.
It also works when prepping. If we teach our kids to learn themselves the concept of “when this, do that”, they will no longer depend solely on their parents for protection during a SHTF situation, but instead will take the lead for their own security and the security of those around them.
In that vein, here are seven things you can start teaching your kids today that will help them build some serious prepping muscle memory.
1. Always Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
In Krav this is called “search and scan”. A smart prepper teaches their kids how to always be searching and scanning the area they’re in for potential danger. Kind of like Jason Bourne in the Bourne movies. In a moment’s notice your kids should know where the exits are, who is around them and what they’re doing, etc., They should be learning to be instantly aware of any odd behavior or any potential danger, whether it be weather-related, stranger danger or whatever.
Awareness is the first key in reacting in a way that saves and protects lives.
How to Teach It
Here’s how to teach your kids to always be in search and scan mode. First, show them this clip from Bourne Identity:
This will give them a good idea of what it means to search and scan.
Second, play search and scan games with them. Kind of like “I Spy” only a bit more intense (it’s important not to make it scary, especially with younger ones, but instead more like a game of cops and robbers or James Bond). Ask them before you enter a restaurant to tell you the descriptions of at least three people by the time you’re seated at your booth. Have them pretend their a spy escaping from bad guys and have them locate all the exits.
Pretend you’re playing cops and robbers and have them describe a “suspect” that you pick out while shopping at Walmart.
Use games to teach them to always be aware of their surroundings and to be able to have a good handle on what’s going on around them.
2. How to Be a Good Spur-of-the-Moment Problem Solver
This is kind of what I was teaching our son with the tractor deal. I wanted him to solve the problem without my help, and he did. Likewise, it’s smart to teach your kids how to problem solve without your help.
How to Teach It
Again, using games to teach problem solving is fun and educational for kids. Make up problems in your house or yard that need to be solved, and let the kids go at it. Here are some ideas.
Game #1: Two kids have been captured by enemy spies and are now tied up, alone, in a room. They’ve got blindfolds on. The enemy spies are in an adjoining room. Their goals is to get untied and out of the house without the enemy spies seeing or hearing them. The enemy spies (you/your spouse) will come in every once in awhile to check on them.
Game #2: Check online for problem solving games for kids. Although the games you find online will likely be mind games instead of physical games, they’ll help get your kids used to the idea of problem solving, and that’s what’s important.
3. How to Get Out of Sticky Situations Quickly
It’s important to teach kids some rules for getting out of danger situations quickly. The first part of how to do this lies in teaching them to always be aware of their surroundings. The earlier they’re aware of a sticky situation, whether it be a stranger danger thing, a potential terrorist attack, sudden bad weather or even a traffic jam, the better chance they’ll have of getting out of the situation safely and quickly.
How to Teach It
You can teach this doing real-life utilization during traffic situations or at the local big box store. Pretend there’s a potentially dangerous situation as you’re in the midst of shopping at Walmart. Describe the situation and ask the kids to figure out what the best way to safety is. Do the same during traffic jams or at local restaurants.
4. How to Prepare to Bug Out Quickly
Your kids should know exactly what they need to put in their bug out bags and should be able to have the bags ready to go in 5 minutes or less. Some preppers suggest having bug out bags ready to go and stored in a place where everyone knows to look, and that can work too. But most every kid I know has every-day use stuff that they’d want to bring with them in a last-minute bug out situation.
For oldest daughter, it’s her sketch pad and pencils. For the other three, they have certain stuffed animals that they like to sleep with.
How to Teach It
Do practice drills with your kids where you say something like: A flash flood warning has just been issued for our area. We need to be in the car and on the way to our bug out location within five minutes. Get your bug out bags ready NOW!
It’s also a good idea for them to know what other family bug out supplies need to come with and where they’re located. That way you can prep to bug out as a group. Assign each kid a certain family bug out supply to put into the car and make that part of the five minute drill. For instance, Sally’s responsible for bottled water, Johnny’s responsible for snacks and mom and dad are responsible for getting the pets/pet supplies into the car.
Practice the bug out drills once a month.
5. How to Stay Calm in the Midst of Chaos
Kids need to know how to stay calm and not freak out in the midst of a chaos situation. Not only does panic slow down your actions, it clouds your thinking and burns up tons of energy.
How to Teach It
Part of your monthly drills should be focused on making preparations in a calm manner. Remind your kids that a person with a plan has nothing to fear.Assign each kid a job during drill practices for each situation, and reward them on how calm they are when carrying out the plan.
6. How to Defend Themselves from Physical Attacks
In Krav Maga, the rule is escape if you can, and if you can’t, fight. Kids (and adults too) need to have at least basic knowledge on how to defend themselves from a physical attack.
How to Teach It
Use mock “attacker” scenarios to teach your kids how to get out of an attacker’s grip if they’re not enrolled in a self-defense class. I highly recommend that kids and adults alike take self-defense classes. Attackers win because their victims are not prepared. Self-defense classes teach people to always be prepared and to know how to fight.
If self-defense classes aren’t an option, look for online videos that teach people to escape from common types of attacker holds, such as this one.
7. To Always Have a Plan
Again, a plan is the key to staying safe in a disaster-type scenario. Make a family plan for each type of disaster, whether that means hunkering down, bugging out or removing yourself from a situation and make sure your kids are involved in both creating the plan and practicing the plan. The more involved they are in creating the plan, the better equipped they’ll be to create their own plan as adults with their own families.
How to Teach It
Make a plan for where you’ll meet and who will pick up the kids if you’re separated, and what you’ll do for each type of scenario. Make a plan for scenarios that give you time to act and for those that don’t give you much time to act. When you’re walking through Walmart, make sure the kids know where all exits are. Stop in the aisle your in and make up a fake scenario. Say “There’s a guy at the hunting and fishing counter over there who’s flipping out because he didn’t get approved for his firearms purchase. What should we do?” Let the kids give their suggestions and then play them out.
Make sure the kids know the plan for each scenario (for instance, they know that if you’re separated and something happens that daddy or mommy or whoever will come and get them and that they should just sit tight). Create a code word that will subtly tell your kids to get to mom and dad right away if you’re in a group gathering situation.
For instance, our code word is a unisex name that can work for both boys and girls so that nobody around us would know which kid we’re calling. But the kids know the name means, “danger is about, get over to us immediately.”
By teaching your kids to take responsibility for their own well-being and the well-being of those around them, you’re equipping them to be prepared for any danger situation that comes their way.
Have you taught your kids any of the above seven rules? How prepared do you feel for a danger situation?