Kids are very keen to try out new physical activities and often, the more of an adrenalin rush an activity gives a child; the keener they are to have a go themselves. There are no restrictions on the age you should begin to take your kids climbing. For the most part, common sense and your own climbing knowledge as well as understanding your kids will determine the moment you feel comfortable in taking them out on trips with you. However, it’s often better if you introduce them to the world of climbing gradually beginning with the very basics in order that they can gain a sense of confidence in themselves before moving on to more challenging climbs later on.
Introducing Your Kids to Climbing
One of the best ways to introduce your kids to climbing is to take them along to an indoor climbing wall where they’ll be instructed in the basics and taught all about safety. There are so many different levels of indoor climbing facilities these days and they have become so popular that there are centres which can even cater for children below primary school age. They’ll have fully qualified instructors who will have your kids’ safety at the very core of everything they teach them and it’s an excellent way of gauging your kids’ enthusiasm alongside any natural ability they might display. Many instructors specialise in teaching children of different ages too so it’s useful to look for a centre which specialises in kids classes separated into appropriate age groups.
What Will They Learn?
In addition to being taught the basics of the importance of safety, a typical kids’ class will focus primarily on how to find the easiest routes up a climbing wall, manoeuvring techniques, understanding and following basic commands and how to grip holds correctly. As they gain more confidence, they’ll be instructed in all of the different types of climbing gear and devices and learn skills such as how to belay, tie knots and fit harnesses correctly. Nevertheless, once they have reached this stage, if they’re still confident and enthusiastic about climbing they’ll want to move on to trying out some of their newly-gained skills within the outdoor environment. One of the best ways to introduce to this is to take them bouldering as it’s an activity which is performed at a much lower height – almost always below around 5 metres so it’s a good way for them to put some of their climbing skills into practice whilst minimising the risks of injury at the same time. There is another article devoted to bouldering contained within this website.
Once they’re comfortable with bouldering, they may wish to accompany you as their parent on more advanced climbs. As an experienced climber yourself, it is your responsibility to maintain a policy of introducing your kids to different grades of climbing gradually as they learn more skills and techniques and to ensure that their confidence remains high. No matter how ‘cocky’ or arrogant they might be to want to do ever more risky a climb, don’t give in to their wishes but use your own judgement as no matter how good they perceive their own abilities to be, they still rely on you as the more experienced climber to guide them and to keep them safe.
There are plenty of outdoor centres which cater for climbing trips for families with children and who have dedicated instructors to also ensure that the expeditions which are undertaken are safe enough for children to take part in. By following these methods, not only will your kids develop their skills and techniques, it will also make them a more proficient climber, help them to understand the risks better and the importance of safety, will instil a self-confidence in them, a sense of trust and an ability to work as part of a team and is a great way for them to maintain their physical fitness as they grow up.