Knowledge is something that takes time to develop, so we need to start teaching the next generation now in case, God forbid, our children are left to fend for themselves or we are injured. Even just to make your family more apt to survive, these essential survival skills for children help everyone learn what they should know to pull their own weight and contribute as much as possible. Food, water, and other survival basics comprise only a part of this list of kid-friendly skills.
We need to teach our children not just physical survival but mental, emotional, and spiritual survival as well. If your family learns now to be a well-oiled machine, you will be more likely to survive any type of collapse.
How to Use This List of Essential Survival Skills for Children
Only you know your child’s maturity and what they are capable of physically and mentally. Every child is different, so just because Johnny or Julie down the street is serving 5-star meals that he or she killed or foraged for and then prepared over an open flame in an orange peel doesn’t mean yours must.
I exaggerate for effect, but you get the point. Don’t compare your child to someone else’s or even one of your children to another. Nothing good comes from that except anxiety and stress for both you and your child.
Also, take into consideration their natural interests as well as local opportunities. For example, when we lived in Phoenix, going fishing wasn’t all that easy of a task; we had to travel many miles to get to a decent lake. Living in Texas, my son can ride his bike to a river not more than a mile or two away and fish for hours. Your locale can help you decide which activities on this list are most feasible.
Select one item from this list, and do a little research to figure out how to best teach the skill to your child. You may need to learn it before teaching it! (Just because these are kid-friendly skills doesn’t mean you can wing it!) Then schedule a date on the calendar to get started. Have fun!
Essential Survival Skills for Children
- Grow vegetables from seeds. This isn’t the easiest skill to master. You’ll need expert advice, and I recommend – Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners
- Have local edible and medicinal plant foraging skills. This book is a must-have for foraging beginners with its large photos and simple text.
- Knowledge of dietary needs and how to meet them using wild plants and game
- Make a fire and know fire safety
- Cook on an open fire
- Open a can of food with and without a can opener (rub can lid ridge on cement and then pry open with a knife)
- Be able to tell if food is too spoiled to eat
- How to safely use a knife. There are many options for knives for beginners. This one is popular and good for a beginner.
- How to shoot a slingshot
- How to hunt small game with snares, traps, and slingshot
- How to fish and hunt, using a bow and gun when old enough
- How to clean fish and wild game
- Find water and identify if it’s safe to drink
- Filter and boil water to drink
- Basic first aid
- Basic hygiene practices
- Find or build a shelter in the wilderness
- How to stay warm, cool, and dry in the elements
- How, why, and when to stay hidden
- Self-defense is another important survival skill everyone should know, not just kids.
- How to make a basic weapon and how to use it
- Be able to run and walk a good distance and be in generally good shape
- How to climb a tree to get away from predators, get directional bearings
- How to read a map and use a compass
- How to read the sky for directions, time, and approaching bad weather
- Know where family and friends live if they need to find them
- How to sew so they can mend clothing or any fabric and even make things such as bags or scrap quilts
- How to barter and trade (Kids naturally do this with their toys, so teach them at garage sales.)
- How to be responsible for themselves and be aware of their surroundings at all times
- Use S.T.O.P. to help them remember what to do first when they become separated from you. Stop–Think–Observe–Plan. Note to parents: Always have a plan in place for what to do if you become separated from your children.
- Think outside the box and develop good problem-solving skills
- Be hardworking and a self-starter, and a family helper, not a complainer!
- How to have a good attitude, which is related to our next item…
- Ultimately, everyone reaches a point where their physical, mental, and emotional abilities are completely taxed. Spiritual survival can make the difference between giving up and finding strength from somewhere to hang in there, just one day at a time. Therefore, I believe that having strong faith in God (morals, memorize Bible verses, prayers, songs, and have a hope for heaven) IS an essential survival skill.
Everyone Should Know These Kid-Friendly Skills
Skills on this list are really survival skills everyone should know, which means it’s a perfect place to begin for family activities. For example, take a fishing class together at a sporting goods store such as Bass Pro Shop and then schedule regular fishing trips.
As you see some of these character traits developing in your children, identify the trait and praise them. “Just now, when you figured that out on your own, that’s problem-solving! Good for you!”
Additionally, depending on maturity, you can have your kids assemble (or help them assemble) a kit with essential wilderness survival gear.
A note from The Survival Mom:
I’m pleased this list has been well received. However, we noticed there were important skills and pieces of knowledge that were missing.
So, we went to work and created more kid-friendly skills lists geared toward wilderness survival, mental and urban survival, plus an all-around basic list. To round it all off, we selected the four top survival skills we believe you should teach your children.
How many of these important survival skills has your child learned?
Updated October 24, 2022, by The Survival Mom editors.