Is your child a climber? Trees, rocks, mountains… the kitchen table or lounge? What about the WALLS!?
Climbing is such a great activity for children of all ages and stages of development, but it can make some parents and caregivers nervous. Keep reading to learn the benefits of climbing and tips to keeping kids safe.
Allowing children to climb to their individual skill and comfort level will encourage them to make safe choices to challenge themselves. When children are given this opportunity they feel good about their choices and become more self-confident.
Improved Fine Motor Skills
Climbing encourages development of fine motor movements like grasping and gripping as well as dexterity. This will help children with future skills like holding a pencil or tying their shoes.
Safe Risk Taking
Climbing is a risky activity – which is great. It gives children the opportunity to learn risk assessment as well as cause and effect. Assessing risk is an important life skill, children need to work out their limits and be able to discover when something is or feels too dangerous. Climbing is a good for this as it is fairly easy for a caregiver to supervise and step in if required.
With many route choices and different ways to go up and down, climbing allows children to use critical thinking. They must make decisions like where to put their hands and feet; which branches look strong; and which rock holds are big enough.
Improved Gross Motor Skills
Climbing allows children to build gross motor skills such as co-ordination, balance, body-awareness and strength.
Tips for Staying Safe
- 3 points of contact – encourage your child to keep 3 points of contact whenever possible – two hands and one foot, two feet and one hand.
- Barefoot is best! If required make sure shoes fit well and have good grip.
- Resist the urge to assist your child to climb higher. Children will naturally only go as high as they are able and as high as they feel is safe.
- Always assess the rock or tree (or whatever else they might be climbing) and the area it is in. Teach the the kids as well.
- Are the tree limbs thick enough and alive? Get the kids to test limbs before they commit with their full weight.
- Does the tree look healthy?
- Is the rock crumbling? Could loose rock fall from above?
- What is the ground underneath like – flat and soft or hard and pointy?
- Is it wet and slippery?
Does your child want to start climbing higher are harder? Maybe its time to introduce formal rock climbing with ropes and an instructor. Get in touch with your local climbing gym, see if they have outdoor sessions but if not an indoor gym is a good place to start too!