Motivate Your Kids to Fish and Get Onboard with You!
It has been marked on the calendar all month and the day is finally here. The daddy and son fishing trip. As an avid angler, there is no doubt that you have been anticipating this moment for weeks. But to Johnny, he just knows him and dad are off to do something together… what it is isn’t important.
Your passion for the sport and your desire to share it with your son is overwhelming. You have fantasies of spending hours on the water, catching the daily limit, and giving Johnny the experience of his life. When the day comes and all the preparation seems to be complete, nothing can prepare you for the challenge ahead: motivating your kid to enjoy the experience of fishing. Failing to keep them motivated and interested can result in a short outing or long, miserable hours water side.
In today’s world, our children are exposed to the instant gratification expectation. Everything they know happens immediately. Nothing is yearned for or anticipated. Technology has put the world online and in our hands. Unfortunately, the sport of fishing doesn’t provide that guaranteed success and immediate stimulation. Accepting that you are fighting an uphill battle to keep Johnny’s attention, there are ways in which you can keep your kid motivated to enjoy the sport of fishing.
Having a natural curiosity for the world, children are fascinated by learning about the lifeforms around them. Taking the time to explore this curiosity can provide dividends when it comes to keeping Johnny enthused about the new sport. While teaching your child to fish, include discussions and observations about what is happening around them. What is going on in the water that he can see? How about in the trees above?
Provoke the curiosity by asking questions and let Johnny consider the answer before telling him. Ask him what he thinks is happening under the water? Then teach him what you know. Consider sharing with him what some of the known fish behaviors are and how they affect the game of fishing. Discuss with him how, as a fisherman, you have to adjust your game to these behaviors in order to be successful.
We all have traveled the same learning path that Johnny is about to embark on. Take the opportunity to show him what brought you to be the passionate angler you are today. Teach him the lessons you wished you would have been taught earlier. Tell him about the successes and the failures. Tell him stories involving you, other relatives, and great memories that have stemmed from events around the water.
Consider building the love of the sport into Johnny by bringing in a family member that he adores. Does his grandpa or uncle love to fish? It may be worth centering your stories on one of them. Even better, bring grandpa or uncle along for the trip. Whatever brings joy to Johnny while he is fishing will likely be what he associates with the sport now and in the future.
As an adult, our attention is pulled in many directions at all times of our day. In order to instill a passion for fishing into Johnny, we must show the passion ourselves. During you outing, remove all distractions. No cell phone, no IPad, and no Facebook. Nothing. If you can’t survive an outing without having to plug back into the technological world, why would Johnny think he needs to? Make this time about you two and the sport. All attention on each other. Nothing else.
Make it Successful
While this is often easier said than done, making the fishing trip successful is another key to gaining appreciation and motivation to continue participating. Like anything else in life, if we are continuously unsuccessful, we will get discouraged and disinterested, and ultimately walk away. While many adults have the ability to accept challenges and keep confronting them until successful, children are not graced with the understanding of perseverance. Many have had little exposure to adversity in their lives, so their coping skills are not as defined as adults.
While you may want to fish the raging river for the catch of the year, consider the ultimate goal of your trip: bonding time and the experience for Johnny. You may need to skip the river for the day and take Johnny to the local trout farm, where success is much more certain than out in the wild where you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. Build a foundation of success and progressively expose Johnny to the challenges that lie ahead.
Make it FUN!!!
Anything that is fun will keep the motivation going. If your child doesn’t enjoy the experience he is embarking on, or finds himself struggling immediately, he is more likely to offer resistance in embracing the new opportunity.
This may require you to change some of your normal fishing trip behaviors while Johnny is with you.
Keep in check your patience and frustrations and remember what the ultimate goal is… fun. Minimize the complaining and cursing. If Johnny watches you get irritated at the lack of bite, line issues, or lost bait, he is simply going to follow the same path in which he has been led down.
Minimize the time spent with the line out of the water changing your set up. This isn’t interesting to kids. They want the line in the water and the anticipation of a bite on the other end. If you must change out his set up, make sure he is actively fishing with your pole while you make the needed adjustments.
Create contests and challenges. Next cast, challenge him to reach a new distance. Challenge him to get the first bite and offer a reward. Let him pick the lure or bait he wants to use, even though you may not consider it the right choice. Let him explore overcoming the challenges on his own. Get him thinking and give him the ability to be active in the sport.