As a mother of two active children (one more so than the other), I am very aware how sporting activities can play a significant role in a child’s life.
In my opinion, keeping them active outdoors or in an indoor sporting arena is crucial to cut down on some of the obvious distractions typical of this generation (like smartphones and digital technology), giving them an opportunity to burn off some of that endless energy that they have.
The question is: apart from these obvious benefits, what else could climbing offer to your child? Honestly, I did not know either. So I did a little of my own research and was surprised at what I found out.
Main benefits of climbing for children
Climbing is fun and is normally very natural for a child to do. Inside the indoor climbing gyms the walls are full of bright coloured holds, something that instantly grabs the children’s attention and draws them in.
Sometimes they are curious of what they have to do (and just a little explanation is needed), other times they automatically know everything and start climbing the walls!
So, apart from keeping them busy for a couple of hours, how else is climbing beneficial to a child? You can find a lot of positive information out there, but in my opinion there are 3 key benefits that everyone should know.
1. Climbing stimulates a child’s senses
When children walk into a climbing gym for the first time, they immediately notice these amazing walls filled with bright coloured holds. The excitement is sometimes hard for them to control! A place like this can be amazing, especially for children with sensory needs: the space is full of bright colours, different shapes and textures.
Then the climbing experience begins. Highly sensitive children may have few and far between issues with putting the harness on, but they normally come around to it in a short time. These children usually start to climb on the kids boulder wall, in order to gain enough confidence to take their next step.
2. Develops problem solving skills
Let the problem solving begin! After all that’s what rock climbing is: one giant puzzle. Which hand goes where? Where do I put my feet? How do I grab this hold? How do I get to the top? Which coloured route should I follow? All these questions enhance your child’s cognitive development.
Climbing holds are all over the place: some to the right, some to the left, some up and others down. Children improve their flexibility by reaching them and learn how to increase their hand-eye coordination with every move they do.
They’re using their vestibular system throughout the climb, something that improves balance like no other. In addition, their arms are crossing the bodies midline all the time, which has been proven to have enormous cognitive benefits for children.
3. Helps kids to overcome their fears
Sometimes the child feels that however much he wants to do this, he just can’t. The fear he senses is too great and that is perfectly fine. The only thing to do is take it slow and in time most children will have a go.
It is all about taking it at their own pace: not all children will climb to the top of the wall on their first go. It is fine to take one step at a time, pushing your own personal limits (everybody’s limits are different).
When it comes to climbing, I think the only person you need to prove yourself to is yourself. So let your children face their fears and you will see their confidence and self esteem grow, not just in the climbing gym but in other aspects of life as well.
Let children climb!
So, in this article I have pointed out a little part of the research I made and also what I have seen from my personal experience within our Hang On Climbing Centre.
The best part is that children are totally unaware of anything that I have written on this page! They are not being made to do any of these things to increase their cognitive function, or improve their coordination and motor skills.
These are just benefits they get from the climbing experience, something that allows them to exercise and have fun at the same time.