Ready to introduce your kids to rock climbing? Young climbers benefit immensely from this extreme sport – no wonder climbing walls are popping up at playgrounds and community centres all over Australia.
Start them as young as you are comfortable with (yes, your four-year-old can do it!), let them go at their own pace, and watch them amaze you.
As a mum, naturally you want your kids to understand that they can face adversity. You want them to know that they can conquer the challenges that life presents, one step, one reach, one rock at a time. Climbing presents all the necessary tools your little monkeys needs to grasp the all important life lesson of how to overcome obstacles and perservere – self-confidence, creative problem solving, focus, and the sine qua non of skills you want your children to have in order to thrive – to be able to let go.
Yep, all this from a fun day at the rock climbing wall, and of course, some great exercise.
Take your kids to a local indoor climbing centre for an exhilarating bouldering session, sign them up for lessons, or set up an exciting outdoor inflatable wall – rock climbing has incredible benefits for kids. Here are just some of the benefits:
1. Building self-confidence and trust in themselves
Standing at the bottom of a climbing wall and looking up is intimidating! Knowing you can tackle the ‘mountain’ is empowering. One study found that children with special needs experienced an enhanced sense of self after climbing.
Kids don’t have to reach the top to feel good about themselves. In fact, they will feel great just by taking those first steps. Encourage your little one to give it a go. For new climbers, consider bouldering, which doesn’t require a belay device to get started and involves climbing close to the ground. Let them climb as much as they are comfortable with and share your proud mamma feelings with them when they are done. You can always come back another day for more fun.
2. Improving problem-solving skills and concentration
Rock climbing could be compared to solving a puzzle. You have to think and strategise to come up with creative ways to use your body to solve the puzzle. Kids will train their minds to focus on a challenge and hone their ability to problem solve, while also discovering that taking a few creative risks may elevate them more than they ever could have imagined!
3. Learning to let go
The best part is, with rock climbing, ‘failing’ is actually fun. If you overestimate your reach, or slip on the next protruding rock, you just let go, fall, laugh, and get back on the wall. If only as adults we could take ‘failing’ so lightly! How many people would set themselves back onto their challenge, even embrace it, and eventually succeed?
Rock climbing can be an extreme sport, but it is extremely safe. With a belay device in place (which is always the case except with bouldering), climbers only descend a few feet when falling. Kids will discover that there is nothing wrong with letting go, it’s actually fun and feels more like floating than falling. They will experience for themselves the old climber adage, ‘it’s not about holding on…but letting go.’
4. Strengthening and increasing balance
Rock climbing will strengthen your little one’s arms, legs, and abs in ways that other activities can’t. As kids have a better strength-to-weight ratio than adults, it is actually easier for them to pull their bodies up a challenging wall. This is a sport made for kids to have fun with!
In fact, kids who aren’t interested in traditional sports tend to embrace the climb, giving mums an alternative for encouraging children to stay healthy and fit.
5. Learning a skill that can be enjoyed throughout life
By encouraging your children to rock climb, as a mum, you are providing them with an enriching sport that they can enjoy as they get older; it’s a great way to stay in shape, relieve stress, and to gain fulfilment from an authentic physical and mental challenge.
The best part about getting your kids to try climbing; you can do it with them! Rock climbing is a thrill, which is why many people fall in love with the sport and make it a regular part of their lives. As your kids learn to climb, you can conquer those heights along with them.
Have you taken your children rock climbing before? What was your experience? Please share in the comments below.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com