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Johnny Molloy

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Teaching children to fish takes patience

May 23rd, 2013 2:34 pm by Johnny Molloy

Teaching children to fish takes patience

Have you ever heard of “Nature deficit disorder”? It is a recently coined term for what is happening to children in America as we push further into the technologically dominant future. 

First it was television, then computers, then video games, and now handheld electronic devices (read: smartphones, etc.) children can take anywhere that keep children inside and glued to a screen rather than outside playing and enjoying nature. 

Remember when you were young? Did you run around outside, ride your bike, play outdoor games and could not be dragged inside until your mother hollered for supper?

That is the way it was for me. Now children sit passively in front of a screen, physically inactive. And it shows, too. You do not need an official study to see childhood obesity is on the rise.

One way to combat “nature deficit disorder” is to take your child fishing. First off, fishing is an activity that y’all can do together that does not involve a screen. In addition, both you and your child benefit from being in the great outdoors together, making memories. I can still remember my dad taking me fishing on lakes south of Memphis, down Mississippi way. 

Moreover, it is these positive memories that build a foundation for your child to enjoy the outdoors on their own, and perhaps carry on the outdoor tradition.

Fishing can be just the trick. And it does not have to be tournament-level bass fishing for a child to feel the thrill. Just a simple cane pole, a bobber and some worms on the lake can do the trick. And when your child feels the tug on the line, and then pulls out a bream, the child senses success and sees the thrill on your face, and knows he has “done good.”

During the steps involved in fishing, from baiting the hook to reeling the fish in to unhooking the catch, you and your child are working together. And the kid is not the only one learning.                                 

Family fishing takes parental patience. Your child will lose the bait, get hung on the bottom and perhaps even hook something he did not intend, like the hat on your head.

That is where mom and dad take a deep breath and work together. The parents learn to teach and the child learns to learn.

It is also important to make it fun. If it isn’t fun for your offspring, it won’t be fun for you. Pick a nice weather day and make sure conditions are right, especially on the first outing. 

Have your child bring a buddy. Then the children can feel the sun on their faces, smell the water and enjoy the sight of their first fish. Let them touch the fish. 

This is where real life supplants that on the screen. No doubt there is some fishing video game but experiencing it first-hand cannot be replaced.

Same goes for hunting, camping and hiking. You get your family out there and into the great outdoors, of which there is abundance here in the hills of East Tennessee.

Get your child outside, get your child moving. Fishing with your child is a chance to set an example of patience and learning. And you just might prevent another case of nature deficit disorder. 

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