Updated: Aug 2, 2020
It is crucial to every parent that their child learns how to be safe, confident, and independent. Parents often have fears about letting their children navigate the world on their own, especially as they reach an age that they want to be independent- but don't seem to take the dangers of the world very seriously. One of the best things you can do to help prepare your kids for independence is to teach them how to have good situational awareness, how to present themselves in public, and how to stand up for themselves against any threat. In this post I share several fun games that parents can practice with their kids to help them develop these skills as early as 2 years old, or as late as "oh my gosh you're going to college already?!"
Some of these games are well known and time tested, and some I designed to accomplish a specific purpose. I really hope you enjoy!
CATEGORY 01: SITUATIONAL AWARENESS
Situational awareness is about being aware of your environment. The purpose is to improve your safety, memory, and general awareness of yourself and what's around you. For safety, being aware of what's around you can help you avoid human and environmental dangers. Think noticing the pot hole in the road while bike riding, a hanging street light, a dangerous animal or insect, or a mysterious car that has been following you. When a person is observant, they have the needed reaction time to avoid dangers. Outside of safety, greater awareness helps a person with memory. Think remembering where you car is parked and what your passwords are, being able to navigate when lost, being that person who always remembers names and birthdays, and keeping sentimental memories longer. Navigation, sense of direction, and threat detection are all things that are improved with better situational awareness. These games are designed to help kids get in the habit of situational awareness, and to start developing their awareness muscles.
Observation Scavenger Hunt
The Purpose: To improve observation and the processing of relevant information about our environment.
The Game: Before going on a journey, create a list of things the players need to find on their path.
Nature walk: a bush with berries, a birds nest, moss, a pine cone, four leaf clovers, an insect, something that doesn’t belong.
Car drive: traffic camera, stop sign, speed sign, a bus station, a dog, a grocery store, a child.
Mall: a person with glasses on, a person with running shoes, a person in a rush, a person who’s waiting for something, a person with a name tag, a baby stroller, mall exits, bathrooms, a store that sells a certain object (plates, birthday cards, etc.)
Methods: You can make it a competition among players, or make it a checklist that everyone is working together to complete by the end of the journey.
The Purpose: Our memory is like a muscle that can be strengthened. With better memory skills, we save time, stand out, and improve our safety.
The Game: Before going on a journey, let the players know that their observation skills are going to be tested along the way. Along the path, stop to ask them questions about their environment. ‘What color car was parked beside us?’, ‘How many exits were in the store?’, ‘What color shirt was the cashier wearing?’, ‘What exit did we take on the highway?’.
Methods: you can make it into a grading system where if a player gets 7 right out of ten, they get a 70% or a B. Let the kids quiz the parents sometimes too! Advance question difficulty as players improve.
The Purpose: To gain navigation awareness and gain a sense of direction. This game will increase the players sense of independence, and if they even get lost they will be able to stay calm and find their way.
The Game: After leaving a common destination, ask the player to direct your back home. The player should use landmarks, street signs, and directions like N/E/S/W or left and right to guide you. You can also go for walks and bike rides, and on the way back ask the players to guide you home.