talking points for nature guides
index to talking points for nature guides
Tips for handling kids
updated Apr 2020
A visitor can be a dream or a nightmare. It's all up to YOU!

More about some typical visitor behaviour that guides may find difficult to handle. Be aware, that half of the problem is YOU.

Kids can be the easiest or more difficult visitors to handle. It's all up to YOU!

Good things about kids

They can find things very well: they are short, they are sharp-eyed, they are curious. Encourage them by praising them EVERY TIME they find something. EVERYTHING they find is interesting, say something about every find.

Even these things
  • Dead leaves: they break down into little bits and are eaten by animals. Some animals like the Leaf porter crab hide under them.
  • Small stones: "How do you think it got so smooth?". Animals and seaweeds may be stuck to the stone. Some animals look like stones!
  • Dead corals: explain coral structure
  • Dead snails: here's more about talking about dead snail shells
  • Bits of rubbish: talk about littering.
  • Piece of wood: animal bore into them.
  • The 20th crab that they found: observe behaviour, compare with previous crabs seen
  • Dead animal: "Let's see what is eating them?" talk about scavengers, "Why do you think it died?"

They ask a lot of questions. Encourage them. No question is stupid.

Parents who come with kids often do so for the kids' sake. Don't try to entertain the parents at the expense of the kids. If you take care of the kids and ensure they have a good time, the parents will also be happy.

Not so good things about kids

They are restless and won't listen. This is good practice for you to keep your stories short and relevant.
Give them 'assignments'. "Who can find me a crab?" "How many different kinds of seaweed can you find?"

They interrupt you and say silly things. This is good practice for you to re-arrange your talk and tour to match the interests of your visitors.

They pick up things and disturb things. This should be minimised if you had done a good pre-walk briefing about not touching, and a good first station about how every inch of the shore is alive.

But if they persist

  • Ask why they are disturbing the animal. Usually, it's because they want to see it come out or to do something interesting. Encourage them to observe quietly.
  • Encourage parents to control the kids by explaining what will happen if the kids persist. "If you keep trying to touch that crab it might bite you". "If you bring home that snail it will die and be very stinky".

They run all over the place. This should be minimised if you had done a good pre-walk briefing about not climbing rocks and sticking together. Try to find out what they find interesting and stick to those things. Kids generally like crabs, small animals. They are not interested in plants.

Not so good things about parents

Parents may say something that is wrong. Try to gently correct. If not, just let it go. It's not the end of the world. Better to save the parents face than to force the issue.

Parents may encourage kids to do the wrong thing: touch things, annoy animals, etc. Gently highlight the dangers of such action.

Don't be a bad guide. Be a good guide instead.

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