I’m not sure why so many parenting experts write books. It seems like a waste of paper when there are dozens of field guides that provide information on dealing with wild bears.
From my experience, you can substitute the word “child” for “bear” in any randomly selected book about camping and get the most-effective tips about children you’ll find anywhere.
For your convenience, I have provided the following summary which includes everything you need to know to take a week-long camping trip in Yosemite National Park or spend two hours with a child under the age of ten.
Humans and children can live in the same environment. While nothing can guarantee your safety in kid country, learning about children and their behavior can significantly reduce your risk of being mauled or, worse yet, driven crazy.
First, some basic facts about children. Children can climb trees. Children have an excellent sense of smell and better eyesight than most people think. Children will aggressively defend their food when threatened. Children often hide from people. But, just because you don’t see a child, doesn’t mean one isn’t around. Remember, the most dangerous children often appear cute and friendly at first.
Stay alert! Keep an eye out for signs of children. Look for claw or bite marks on trees, furniture or siblings. Children also leave marks on walls, bathroom mirrors and automobile upholstery. Tracks, trampled vegetation or Popsicle droppings are all clues that children may be nearby. Try not to surprise a child. If a child hears you coming, it will usually avoid you.
Children have insatiable appetites and are attracted to junk food. They will tear apart a house while looking for salty or sweet snacks. Keep all Doritos, Twinkies and HoHos in a secure food locker. Children will attempt to take food, even if you are holding it in your hand. And children remember easy sources of food. One taste of chocolate chip cookies and a child can be hooked for life. If you see a child, remain calm. The child may be passing through and will keep going if it doesn’t find anything to eat.
There are many gruesome tales of parents being attacked, mauled, swatted or stomped by children. If you see a child at a distance and the child doesn’t see you, turn around and leave the area. Do not attempt to interact with the child.
If a child approaches or stands on his or her hind legs to get a better look at you--stop. The child may be curious and non-aggressive. Stand tall, wave your arms, and speak in a loud and low voice. Say words such as “bedtime” or “broccoli.” These will repel most children. Back away slowly.
If a child does attack, play dead. Curl up in a ball with your hands behind your neck. Lie still and quiet until the child wanders away.
That last tip is also effective when your wife wants you to clean the garage and you’re watching a football game on television.
Tim Bete is the author of four books, including Guide to Pirate Parenting and In The beginning...There Were No Diapers.
(c) 2021, Tim Bete