As parents, we want our children to grow up to be confident, adventurous, and open-minded about the world around them. One way to instill these qualities in our kids is by teaching them the importance of (and benefits from) trying new things. Children (and adults) often shy away from unfamiliar activities, foods, or experiences out of fear of the unknown. However, encouraging them to step outside their comfort zones and try new things can lead to a world of possibilities!

Today, Jen Barnes, South Carolina mom of three teenagers discusses her family’s mindset of “we try new things.” She touches on why it’s essential for parents to not only teach their children about trying new things, but also to be willing to try right alongside them! By trying new things, we can foster a sense of curiosity and adventure in our children, and prepare them for a lifetime of growth and learning.

the we try new things mindset pinnable hero of teen boy standing on a dock crabbing

My “aha” moment

What started out as a fun day excursion turned into an “aha moment” for me. I thought I was going to write an article about crabbing with kids in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. But that’s not really what this is about. Interestingly, this post morphed in my mind into the idea of writing about a mindset that I feel is imperative to raising confident, capable kids – the “we try new things mindset.”

As the mom, I set the example for my kids. And while trying new things isn’t always at the top of my priority list, I don’t want my kids to be fearful or unwilling to try something new. I want them to be excited to discover, explore, learn, and embrace the unknown. I want them to be curious and up for a challenge.

But that means that I have to practice what I preach! If I’m going to encourage my children to give something new a try, I’m going to have to do it too. I need to show them that it’s never too late to learn new things…even in your 40s. They need to see that it’s hard for me, too. They need to see me struggle. They have to see me nervous. And they have to see me get through it and feel the experience is worth it. 
So, let me tell you about a recent adventure…

teen boy standing on a dock learning to tie a throw net to his wrist

Trying new things…crabbing

A few months ago, I reached out to a special woman who I had been following on Instagram for about a year. Tia Clark was showcasing her crabbing experiences on the docks of Charleston, SC, and I was enamored. What a great idea for kids to learn how to do something quintessentially coastal!

Crabbing seemed like the perfect outdoor activity to try with the kids and write about. The combination of outside time, sea life, and spending quality time with my teenager was going to make for the perfect writing assignment. 

two teen boys standing on a dock with an instructor learning about large size commercial crabbing baskets

You don’t know what you don’t know

6:00 a.m. came very early on our day off school, but we had to hit the road so we could get down to the lowcountry in time for our crabbing lesson with Tia. I had my 14-year-old son and his best buddy with me, ready for our crabbing adventure.

The first question they had was what we were going to do with Tia. Honest answer – I had no idea. We were going crabbing…that was all I knew! Sometimes it’s hard not to know the answers when your kids ask questions. But, you don’t know what you don’t know. However, you can always learn by trying something new! 

I knew that I had to bring a South Carolina saltwater fishing license with me, but I wasn’t even sure what that meant. As a group, we later learned the money that comes from the licenses goes directly to partner organizations that are tangibly working to improve the waterways of South Carolina. For example, the SCORE program allows volunteers to help build manufactured wire reefs, which assist in habitat enhancement and shoreline stabilization. See! We were already learning something new!

teen boy standing on a dock with a throw net in his hands checking his positioningteen boy standing on a dock pulling on a rope line to bring in a crab basket

You never know where trying new things will lead you

When we arrived at the docks to meet up with Art (Tia’s best friend and team member), we put our extra layers on to brace ourselves against the chilly wind. As we introduced ourselves, it become obvious that not one person in the group had ever been crabbing before. Looks like we were all trying new things on that Monday morning! 

Tia and her team began to describe and explain what we should expect that morning. She wove in her own personal journey to the crabbing docks. After years of working in the restaurant and bar scene, putting in late hours, smoking cigarettes, and generally not taking care of herself, her health began to take a very negative turn. The lack of sleep and overall neglect had caught up with her body and her mind. Her previous working conditions became even more difficult with a restricted diet and new medical advice. 

It turns out that a simple invitation can change the course of your life. In Tia’s case, that is exactly what happened. A family member asked her to join him on the docks to do some crabbing. Ironically, although Tia had been born and raised in Charleston, SC, she had never been crabbing before.

Guess what…she loved it. She not only loved being outside, but she caught her own healthy dinner! So, she went back and did it again. And again. What began as an invitation to try something new became a central part of her life.

Before she knew it, people were asking her to take them along to teach them how to crab. Her passion and enthusiasm are infectious. She even got the two teenage boys to invest! 

teen boy standing on a dock getting instructions from a pro on how to pull the rope line in with the crab basket

two teen boys standing on a dock with fishing poles trying to catch some live bait for the crab baskets

Results of the “we try new things” mindset

We absolutely loved our crabbing experience and learned so much. However, I’m sure it won’t surprise you that we are not starting our own crabbing business! The best part about trying new things is that you get to test out what you may or may not become genuinely interested in for future hobbies or passions. How would you ever know whether you like doing something if you never try it?

We sincerely hope to go crabbing again because it is such a fun family activity, especially for those who live on or near the coast. The knowledge we gained was useful in giving us the confidence to do it again on our own. 

teen boy kneeling on the dock with an pro showing him how to correctly and carefully pick up a crab without getting clawed

Using travel and trips to try new things

We love using travel as a way to put our “we try new things” mindset work! There’s always something new and interesting to try when you’re in a new location. Sometimes it takes a bit of research and planning, but it’s worth the extra effort.

On our travels, we’ve tried other new things like surfing, food tours, walking tours, snorkeling excursions, fishing charters, art tours, museum tours, cooking classes, and others. Each of these experiences left an impression, taught us things, and provided us with amazing memories. Every time we try new things, we build up bravery and confidence in our children. We give them the courage to realize that trying new things, while sometimes scary, is also really fun. 

You don’t have to love the new things you try

But let me say, that just because you try something new doesn’t mean you need to love it and continue doing it. You can try fly fishing without it needing to become your next hobby. You can try surfing and decide it’s just not the sport for you!

I often think about some of the interests my kids and I have had over the years. Those interests developed because we tried new things and gave ourselves a chance to experience something new. And there are plenty of things that we’ve tried once and never feel like we need to do again! But we’re still glad we tried.

The biggest lesson, though, is that you are not stuck. You’re not too old to try new things. You can try new things at any point in life, so why not teach your kids early in life to have this mindset?


teen boy standing on a dock holding a one-claw crab

A note about trying new things with a guide

I want to give a little plug to booking tours, guides, and excursions. If you want to try something new, please consider booking a guide or a tour, or an excursion with local experts that know what they’re doing and can teach you. This is how these people make a living, and it contributes to the local economy. They are usually experts in their activity and not only know what they’re doing but know how to teach others. They have local expertise and experience that will help enrich your experience well beyond trying this new thing on your own. What better way to try new things than to have someone who is a professional teach you how to do them? 

Other adventures to inspire you to try new things

When will you next use the “we try new things” mindset?

About the author

Jen has been married to her original adventure partner, John, for 20+ years. She is a mama to 3 teenagers who, although they have busy and independent lives, love to adventure in the outdoors when they can. Jen is a native of Chicago, but has lived in South Carolina for two decades and calls it home. She’s always planning the next adventure for herself or her friends, whether near or far. Hiking, kayaking, sailing with her family, or traveling the world is all about the experience and the journey. Her extroverted nature keeps her talking and smiling with anyone she meets along the way. She’s on a mission to show other busy families that traveling with teenagers is possible and fun!

You can find Jen online in the following locations:
Instagram: @gofamilyadventure
Website: Go Family Adventure
RWMC Posts: Jen Barnes