32 Mental and Urban Survival Skills for Kids

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Kids come in all ages, abilities, and emotional and mental maturity levels. As you read this list, remember that not all skills are appropriate for younger kids, in particular. Although these are listed as mental and urban survival skills for kids, the truth is they are relevant for most kids living a modern life, not just those in cities.

Some of these, particularly escape and evasion, aren’t things most of us need in daily life (sibling issues aside), but kids should use and practice most of these skills in their daily lives.

image: girl hiding practicing urban survival skills for kids

Mental and Urban Survival Skills for Kids

Cyber and Personal Security

1. Know who to trust with personal information
2. Recognize the sound of gunfire and know what to do if you hear it
3. Identify and know how to escape elevators and other potential “trap points” in your daily life
4. Online safety – not sharing personal information, etc.
5. Identifying dangerous people and groups online and where to find help
6. If the family has an emergency stash of food and supplies, know where it is and how to access it

Emotional Well-Being

7. Set goals and know how to achieve them
8. Be responsible for themselves
9. Develop problem-solving skills
10. Work hard: be a self-starter and a family helper, not a complainer!
11. Have a strong faith in something greater than yourself (live morally, memorize religious verses, pray, sing, etc.)
12. Stay calm
13. Manage boredom
14. Handle disappointment, manage anger, and overcome fear

Escape and Evasion

15. Conceal vs. cover
16. What to do if they ever get lost
17. Blend in when necessary
18. Where to hide if in danger, both inside and outside
19. Know where family and friends live if they need to find them
20. Where to find water and shelter in a city
21. Be aware of the nearest exit, and the next-nearest
22. How, why, and when to stay hidden
23. Assist an injured or otherwise handicapped person in getting to safety when there is no power

Financial Savvy

24. Money management – saving, spending wisely, balancing a checkbook, using a credit or debit card (and the differences between them)
25. Bargain and trade (kids naturally do this with their toys, so teach them at garage sales)
26. Hiding their assets and knowing how to find any “emergency cash stash” their family has
27. Identify items of higher value in different situations (e.g., batteries may become very valuable with the power out, but not with it running)

Self Defense

28. Basic unarmed self-defense
29. Shoot a slingshot
30. Make and use a basic weapon
31. Understand and use basic gun safety procedures, even if they can’t shoot
32. Shoot a gun, including basic eye and ear protection

Remember to check out these other kid-friendly skills lists:

How many of these have your children learned?

13 thoughts on “32 Mental and Urban Survival Skills for Kids”

  1. How to read a map. Everyone seems to depend on electronic driving directions, but map skills are vital.
    Thanks for the list. I see a few I need to learn/improve.

  2. Great post Liz! I instilled some skills in my kids by camping…now working with a 3 yr old grandson and hoping to do better…thoughts on instilling thoughts and skills at such a young age? my own were older when we started camping

  3. This is a great list, our children are only 4 and 2 but it’s good to see this list so that we can be aware of teaching opportunities and begin to introduce concepts. I read an interesting article once about teaching children to get help. It talked about not going to a policeman or just any adult in a public setting but finding a mom who has children and approaching her. I’m a beginner when it comes to being a prepper but I thought that was great advice, I wouldn’t have thought of that myself. Thanks for sharing this list and helping us realize areas that we can work on.

  4. I agree with finding a mom when small kids are lost, policemen may scare kids or may not be a real policeman but a Mom WITH her kids is almost always a safer bet. When we go in places (mall, museums, zoo, parks etc) my kids keep a paper with my phone number and name written on it as well as their Dads. And they know that they should first stay put not to run off looking for me and second look for a nearby Mom and ask her to call me. Gotta love cell phones these days. In the event cells aren’t an option I have whistles in my kids kits and we play hide n seek on camping trips so they learn how to truly hide and be quiet about it.

    Map reading and compass use are also excellent skills. Cooking, making a fire safely, how to extinguish a fire without a fire extinguisher and basic self defense are also good for kids.
    Don’t assume your child isn’t responsible or mature enough to handle or teach this stuff to. With guidance and supervision they will amaze you. Kids are only as responsible and mature as we allow them to be.

  5. I’ll be teaching my girl scouts how to read a map soon. Biggest trouble with that is finding decent maps we can use. And making sure I have enough good compasses.

  6. I have 4 kids, and the first 3 do chores without complaining. But my youngest, complains, cries, and fights over every chore. I love your list, but I cant seem to get my youngest with the program. Any suggestions?

    1. Have you asked what your child is willing to do? My eldest views putting away dishes as pure torture but, oddly, has no issue with cleaning the litterbox or the gutters. He hates germs, so no way would I have guess this without asking him!

    1. The Survival Mom

      I recommending narrowing the skills down to a handful, maybe even 1 a month and then looking for resources online. Kids can join scouting groups, 4-H, Cabela’s and REI have classes. Boy Scouts have a separate club called Venturing for both boys and girls, and it focuses on outdoor survival and skills. This is also a great opportunity for parents to learn alongside their kids!

    2. I am writing a series of books to help with that. The first one (“26 Basic Life Skills”) is already done. The one on “26 Mental and Urban Skills” should be finished over the summer. They include activities, quizzes, and links to online resources including book and videos.


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