GUEST POST by GABY PILSON, first published on The Adventure Lab
A recent study found that two-thirds of children do not do enough physical activity to sufficiently aid their growth and development. Rock climbing offers a huge range of benefits to children, ranging from lessons around overcoming challenges and dealing with failure, through to promoting healthy life choices. Further, climbing can be a great way to spend some quality family time together while keeping children active and entertained. If you don’t already take your kids climbing, here are five reasons why you should.
1 Climbing Promotes Healthy Life Choices
Similar to ‘traditional' team sports like soccer, football, and netball, rock climbing is a great activity to keep kids moving and exercising. These days, promoting healthy life choices among our children is an important way to steer them away from the threat of obesity and all the dangers it poses. By taking our kids climbing, we encourage them to stay active. As they become more and more excited about the sport, they will usually be encouraged to eat well, do yoga, and stay fit so that they can make progress in their climbing.
2 Climbing teaches problem solving and decision making skills
Anyone who climbs knows that the sport demands a certain level of problem-solving and decision-making skills to get through a tough section on a route. While many fit, athletic, people can rely on strength alone for easy to moderate climbs, once a route gets to a certain difficulty level, problem-solving, technique, and decision-making skills are key to success.
These skills aren’t unique to climbing, however. Once a child learns to solve an issue on the wall, they’ll be better prepared to handle life’s challenges.
“Physical activity is not only important for a child’s physical development and fitness, it is important for their brain development and mental health, and helps them to develop socially and emotionally.”
University of Western Australia lead researcher Associate Professor Hayley Christian
3 Climbing encourages children to overcome fear
Us climbers have all seen it many times: a new climber, halfway up their first route, terrified of climbing upward but also too scared to come back to the ground. It’s a pretty common sight, and most of us have probably been there before too. Even if we’re not afraid of heights, at some point in our climbing careers, we’ve all had to overcome fear. For kids, climbing can be a great way to understand fear and how to overcome it in a controlled, fun, safe environment, with the support of their friends and family.
4 Climbing teaches us how to fail
All climbers know that one thing is certain: what goes up must come down. Whether you’ve been climbing for a day or for a lifetime, chances are that you’ve fallen more than once. Even if the fall was as innocent as a small slip off a foothold at the gym, falling - and getting back up again - teaches us humility - and how to persevere through it. Climbing teaches us that failing does not make us a failure, but that with the right amount of effort, dedication, grit, and a small dose of humility, we can overcome challenges and strive to be our best. Kids, too, learn this quite quickly while climbing, especially if they’re used to succeeding at most things they try.
5 Climbing brings us outside
Even if you and your kids start climbing in the gym, at some point, you’ll probably want to head out onto the real rock and test your skills. Outdoor rock climbing is a fantastic life-long activity that teaches adults and children alike the joys and benefits of spending time outside. Outdoor climbing trips are also fantastic for families and are a great way to show kids the world in an active, healthy atmosphere. A weekend getaway to a nearby climbing spot or a vacation to an international climbing destination can be a fantastic way to encourage your kids to keep growing and developing - plus, they’re good fun for everyone! There’s no limit to where climbing can take you and your family!
Ready to take action? Check out this great guide on the steps required to get your family climbing.
About the author
A professional mountain guide and experienced outdoor educator, Gaby enjoys travelling and exploring the world’s most remote locales.
As a writer and editor, Gaby has written for a variety of climbing and travel blogs, news sites, and climbing magazines.
She is currently finishing a master’s degree in outdoor education but in her free time, Gaby loves a strong cup of coffee and searching for the next great adventure.