If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime. Of course it would be easier to pack your children’s bags for them, but you won’t always be there to do it for them. Why not teach them how to do it for themselves? Here are some tips to help you teach kids to pack.
1. Understand the necessity of teaching children to pack
Kids need to learn how to plan ahead and stay organized. Teaching children to pack for themselves gives them a sense of responsibility that is important in their development.
2. Choose the right bag for your child
Keep in mind that kids can only carry about 25-30% of their body weight, so choose a backpack or suitcase that’s appropriately sized.
3. Have your child help you pack your bag first
This is a great way to get them comfortable with the concept of packing. Guide them through the process, showing them how to know what to bring and how best to organize items. They should help you fold socks, close zippers, and recount the packed items.
4. Have your child try packing their own bag
Make sure that your child understands why each item needs to be included. Is it going to be cold? Bring an extra jacket. Are you going to go swimming? Bring a bathing suit. Are you going to be gone for four days? Pack five outfits – one for each day plus an extra. It’s simple logic, but talking them through your thought process will help.
5. Include more than just clothes
Have your child pack basic toiletries such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and any medications they might need. Have your child think about what other little things might keep them comfortable on the road, such as snacks, extra blankets, or toys.
6. Pack the carry-on personal item
Make sure your child understands that their carry-on personal item must contain everything they’ll need in the car or plane ride until they’ve reached their destination. A few must-haves for any child’s carry on are toys, durable snacks, water bottles, and another layer of clothing in case it gets cold.
7. Double check to make sure you have everything
The last step in preparing to depart on a trip is to double check your belongings. Teach your child that it can help to write out a physical list of items to ensure that nothing is forgotten. They should make sure that they have an extra set of clothes, essential medications, and everything else they’ll need for the journey. Once everything is accounted for, it’s finally time to hit the road!
It’s important to teach kids to pack their own bags for travel. One day, your child will be autonomous, and they will need this skill just as much as any other life skill. Your child is now one step closer to becoming independent.