Kids have been growing up unscathed in the country for generations. So although there are some new elements to their environment that they need to learn about, they're quite capable of learning and surviving the perils perceived by their parents.
Let me see if I can put this in perspective.
Man is one of the few creatures on earth that kills and harms without any reason.
Animals kill to eat or to survive.
Hum... one for the animals.
Man kidnaps, abuses, shoots, poisons, and injures each other.
Animals kill to eat or to survive.
Make that two for the animals.
Man is unpredictable, kills for fun, and is in fact, the most dangerous animal on earth.
Animals have predictable behavior, kill only to eat, and are only dangerous if cornered or threatened.
The animals seem to have it three for three.
Why do you think your children are safer in town surrounded by ... yep, you got it, man?
The fact is, you've learned about the dangers of town and taught your children how to protect themselves from those dangers. They are quite smart little critters (your kids) and soak up information like a sponge.
So, Mom, Dad, get a grip! The burden's on you. You're probably fearful because you don't know much about the country either. So learn about your environment... right along with your kids. Use the web, visit forest rangers, go to farms and ranches, LEARN about your environment and how well it is balanced, as long as man doesn't interfere too much.
There are lots of resources here, and many more online and through fish & game agencies, the Department of Forestry, and many other places. Make it your top priority so you don't make your kids paranoid out of your own fear.
There are so many truly beautiful and wonderful things that nature's given us. If you get past your fear, you and your family will enjoy your experience much more.
When they see a snake
Tell them to stay away and call mom or dad. When you get there, identify whether it's a harmless variety or a rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes are either brown and tan or dark gray and light gray. Their head is shaped like a triangle with a point at it's nose.
There is a harmless brown and beige gopher snake that can be easily mistaken for a rattlesnake, so stay your distance, but study the creature to see what you can learn. If won't take you long to find that there are many beautiful snakes that are simply great nature-watching material.
If they see a predator
The likelihood is that they won't. Most predators are nocturnal and most kids aren't. But, if they do, be sure you've taught them what to do.
Birds & Bees
Help them respect bird nests, bee hives (or bees working... they're great at reducing many more pesky insects). If a bee is working ie. collecting nectar from flowers, they're unlikely to sting. I've walked right into the middle of hundreds of bees who were otherwise preoccupied. They paid no attention to me and just continued their activity.
If you're concerned, just teach your kids to play away from flowering plants when the bees are active.
With a little effort, it's pretty easy to keep poison oak in check around your house and in kid's play areas. But, as the kids get more bold, they'll go farther. Just help them learn what it looks like and if they find themselves in it to return home and have you help them cleanse the area.
It really doesn't take a lot of energy to teach kids about their country surroundings. And remember, their attitude toward nature will come from you. If you show fear so will they. Help them understand... not fear, their environment.
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