Lately I have been having a lot of fun watching my 2 1/2 year old enjoy hiking the trails. We usually do 2 km hikes but have embarked on a few 4 Km hikes as long as they do not have a lot of incline. If they do have quite a bit of incline we will have a carrier for her in case she gets tuckered out. Although she is a pretty motivated little hiker she sometimes needs a bit of a push mid hike or near the end of the hike to finish. Or… If I am honest… There are times when we hit the ol’ two year old crashing point in which something needs to be done to motivate her to keep on hiking. To motivate her we often play games or have little hiking activities. If we need to do the activities mid hike we often only have to play for a bit before she is ready to keep on hiking and she starts enjoying her time hiking on the trails again.
*Update* Check out Hiking Games for Toddlers Part 2 for more hiking games!
This game involves running and actions. To start you tell your toddler to run. Get them to run as long as they are having fun but not long enough that they get tired or bored of the activity. Then yell at them to ‘STOP’. Make sure your toddler has stopped and tell them to do an action or even a few actions. Some actions include ‘touch your nose, touch your toes, do 5 jumps, 5 jumping jacks, do a wiggle etc.’ Then repeat. I have repeated this game in order to finish a hike when my daughter has become tired out. This is an interactive game and my daughter loves to play it especially with one of her really good friends. We actually learnt this game from a good friend of mine.
While this is somewhat straight forward I will give a few tips to make racing a bit more fun. Draw a start line on the ground with your foot. Our daughter loves doing this as well. Say ‘on your mark, get set. GO’. Then race your child down the trails. If they have siblings or their friends are along on the hike they can race each other.
While hiking have your child look for various outdoor objects. Tell them they can only look for it on the trails to keep them on the trail. Some examples of objects include: Rocks, Leafs, Sticks, Bugs. If that becomes too easy get them to look for certain colours or shapes of these objects.
5. Kicking rocks:
I will often find a rock to kick with my daughter on the trail if she is slowing down. She gets a turn at kicking it and then I do. The trick is that when its your turn to kick the rock that you kick it a good distance down the trail. It’s a great way to cover some distance!!!
6. Push Toy:
If the hike is stroller friendly but I want to encourage my daughter to walk the trail then I will sometimes bring her stroller. Our 2 1/2 year old can be extremely motivated when pushing around her doll or husky dog. She has pushed that stroller on easy paths for just over 5 km walking by herself!!!