Why is fishing good for kids?
One of the most wonderful parts of watching your child’s progression through the stages of fishing is the confidence it imparts. Fishing, it turns out, provides a lifetime of milestones.”
When it comes to raising children, most every parent’s goal is the same. The universal objective is to raise healthy, well-adjusted kids that are equipped with all of the tools and skillsets necessary to function as adults.Fishing, it turns out, has a number of qualities that make it quite good for kids.
You can be forgiven for thinking that the activity was just an excuse for dads to drink beer outdoors.
What follows is an explanation of these qualities and a bit of insight into how fishing can benefit children. Not only do these benefits not depend on how many fish you catch, but the benefits extend into other parts of your child’s development. So here it is, why fishing is good for kids.
1.Fishing Imparts to Kids a Sense of Wonder and Adventure
Children are imaginative little creatures. When left to their own devices, they conjure all manner of games and imaginary friendships and dialogs. Imagination helps in the creation of cognitive processes that enable critical thinking and the ability to understand the world.
Fishing is perfectly situated to nurture this sense of wonder. Whether it be watching birds fly around a marsh, looking at pelicans dive into the surf, or just playing with a bait bucket full of minnows, nothing about the activity is planned or scheduled (in the ways that so much of modern life has become).
Wonder and imagination are springboards for cognitive development. If you want kids to be able to learn how to think, it is wise to nurture this. Fishing (and the physical setting within which it takes place) does this directly.
And it’s not just me saying this. Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” There is also a pile of scholarly research on the subject—written by people who aren’t even rednecks.
How about the article titled, “Understanding Imaginative Thinking During Childhood: Sociocultural Conceptions of Creativity and Imaginative Thought” published in the Early Childhood Education Journal in 2008?
Understanding imagination as both a cognitive and affective endeavor is crucial in order for educators to promote creative and imaginative thinking in informal and formal learning environments.”
It should be no surprise that fishing might suite the imaginations of children. This sense of wonder and the tendency to always imagine that a big fish is about to bite stays with fishermen long after their childhoods are gone.
2. Quality Time Spent With a Present Parent
The modern world is constantly full of gadgetry and distraction. These days, sanctuaries from emails or news feeds are disappearing faster than the rainforest. To understand just how this affects children, stop by a playground and look around.
To see a kid left to their own devices (sometimes even sitting idly, trapped in a baby swing) while mommy is preoccupied by her Instagram or dad is fielding work emails is a sickeningly common site. The same happens at home all the time too—there’s always a smart phone lurking, just waiting to interject.
One of the great things about fishing is that it takes place in the present. While you are waiting for the bobber to disappear or for the rod tip to double over, you are anticipating an act that takes place in the present. There is no email or phone call to schedule it’s occurrence at 3:30 EST, next Tuesday.
If you are fishing with kids (and you leave your phone in the car and aren’t that guy who brings a tablet), you are engaged with them in the present. There is no better occasion to talk about what is going on or tell them how happy you are to be fishing with them.
You might find that this is as good for the kids as it is for you.
3. Fishing Imparts Culture and Identity
For those who really enjoy the activity, fishing is more than a hobby or pastime. For the passionate fisherman, fishing is often part of their identity and how they view themselves.
Most people who are passionate about fishing as adults can trace their start to an adult in their childhood. For me, it was my grandparents.
Beyond a means of bonding between parents and their children, fishing can also provide kids with a link to cultural heritage. My grandmother, the person who taught me to fillet fish and throw a cast net, is Cajun.
In addition to the fact that I always really enjoyed it, fishing seemed like a logical extension of who I was.
There are plenty of cultures with long term affinities for fishing. It also functions in a regional sense derived from where your parents came from. A passion for fishing can therefore provide a linking mechanism that strengthens the bonds between generations.
To Hell with those online DNA testing genealogy services… If you want to know where your people came from, go fishing with your grandmother.
4.Fishing Imparts Confidence to Kids
My girls are three and five. I have been taking them fishing since they were really small. We started in the front yard with our golden retriever, Lucy, and a tennis ball tied to a two and a half foot long kids’ rod and reel.
One of the most wonderful parts of watching their progression through the stages of fishing is the confidence it imparts. Fishing, it turns out, provides a lifetime of milestones.
When the little one first starts fishing, it is you that does most of the work. You catch the bait—grabbing a minnow out of the bucket or digging out a night crawler. The first step for the little one is getting up the nerve to touch the minnow or feel how slimy the worm is.
Depending on the kid, it can take quite a bit of gumption to get up the nerve to touch a worm. But once they do—as they process the tactile sensation—the unmistakable flash of confidence lights up their face.
They’ve done it! They are proud of themselves.
Universally the kids will then tell you, “I can’t wait to tell Mommy that I touched a worm!” That evening they will tell her themselves 15 or 20 times.
Fishing With Kids: Off the Races
It also never fails that a couple of minutes after the first tentative poke, the child will have the whole worm tub dumped out in their hands.
It’s the same with a bucket full of minnows. A tentative poke of a minnow in Daddy’s hand soon turns little kids into sea hawks—snatching minnows out of the bucket left and right. Next thing you know, they are tossing worms into the minnow bucket so that, “they can be friends.”
When you first start, the little one can help reel as you hold the rod. As they grow, they can do more and more of the catching themselves. Ultimately they can complete the process all by themselves.
The sentimentality with which we retired my oldest daughter’s little pole (we caught all kinds of things with it), was immediately overwhelmed by her satisfaction with getting a new pole. If you come fishing with us these days, Frankie is sure to proudly tell you, “I have a big girl pole!”
The best part about all of this? The confidence gained through fishing then extends into all other areas of the child’s life and development.
5. Everybody Helps—Team Work and Pulling Your Own Weight
My buddy from Louisiana says that being a father to a young child means being equal parts Labrador retriever and pack mule. He is not wrong… especially if you plan to take your little ones fishing.
While it’s the Old Man that is saddled with the bait bucket, the backpack full of tackle and sunscreen, the box full of snacks and drinks (every fishing trip is also a picnic, by the way), most of the fishing poles, and sometimes even a crying little girl, we make it a point to have all of the kids carry something to and from the truck.
Whether it’s one of the fishing poles, a small net, or just putting their hands on the bait bucket to “help” carry it, fishing provides a great platform for teaching the importance of teamwork and working together. We’re all going to have fun fishing, so let’s all carry something.
Remember here, there are longer term goals in play than simply catching a bass or catfish or two. The ultimate goal is to raise a well-adjusted child and pulling your own weight seems to align well with that aspiration.
Speaking of being well-adjusted fishing is also a good time for lessons about littering and making sure not to leave any trash behind. These days, it seems that some adults and older kids might need that lesson themselves.
6. The Normal Benefits You Always Hear
Yes, fishing has a number of added benefits that are commonly touted. These include: exercise, fresh air, being outside generally, and vitamin D from the sun.
Fishing really is good for children and their development. It’s also quite a bit of fun.
We will have upcoming articles on how to introduce kids to fishing and associated topics. Here’s one on how to introduce your kids to fishing. If you have any questions about fishing with kids in the mean time, shoot me a note: [email protected]