Are you a parent that loves to head to the climbing gym or even get your kicks on the rocks? If so, you might want to share your love of climbing with your kids. Perhaps they’ve even begged you to take them along.
But at what age can you start bouldering? The good news is you don’t have to wait that long. Generally speaking, kids are usually ready to try out bouldering somewhere around ages 4 and 7. It depends on how well they work with problem solving, though little ones will likely enjoy the small thrills they get in a kid-friendly bouldering space filled with lots of mats.
Remember when you were little? All those play places with the foam pits and balls…you weren’t afraid to fall at all. In fact, that was fun! Your little ones will love bouldering in these kind of safe spaces, and that will help them build a love for bouldering and climbing down the road.
Whether your kids are between 4 and 7 years old, younger, or even older, you’re about to find out the benefits of rock climbing and what it can do for them. You’ll also learn how to get them into it safely and build up a life-long love of the sport, something you can do as a family. Keep reading!
What are the benefits of rock climbing at an early age?
Whether you take your kids outdoor or indoor climbing, they’ll gain plenty of benefits. It’s great for strengthening little bodies into agile machines and building motor skills. They get strength in their core, arms, and legs, plus they learn how to coordinate, maintain balance, and be more efficient at stability.
One thing you should be aware of though is that it’s never a good idea to expect too much when it comes to climbing for kids 10 and under. They just want to have fun and explore, and really, that’s all you should be encouraging at this point in their little lives. If you freak out every time they fall off or critique them all the time, they’re going to lose interest.
And for parents that are here because their kids perhaps encountered a climbing wall or bouldering gym at a party that sparked a love for the sport, try to join in the fun. You don’t have to be good at it either. You just have to try. Parents are great role models when they let go and just go with it when it comes to learning something new. Even if you don’t stick with it, you teach your children not to be scared of new experiences, which goes far beyond climbing.
You might find that through this, you gain a love or climbing too. It’s something that kids can do with their siblings, and it can be a family thing. Eventually, when you feel more comfortable, you can take it to the outdoors, and that has even more benefits. When you climb outdoors with kids, nature becomes a part of it and our kids get the chance to learn more about appreciating it, not to mention being vigilant about doing their part to keep it beautiful.
It’s certainly a great way for kids to do something rather than vegetate on the couch in front of the TV or with a device in their hands. Speaking of that…
The Social Benefits Of Bouldering
While climbing has wonderful benefits for the physique and keeps kids in good shape, it’s also a social sport. Initially, especially with small children, it will be a lot of bouldering at the gym where they take tumbles off the rock and laugh as they hit the mat. But as they get bigger and their fondness for this activity grows, they make new friends.
And as those friendships grow, they become climbing buddies. Climbing buddies are great friends to have simply because it takes great communication to excel in this sport. They learn how to count on each other, building trust as they form a team. They learn how to listen to truly listen rather than waiting for a chance to speak as they must act on the instructions they’re given. It requires concentration and focus to maintain safety.
While your 4 or 5-year-old won’t be ready for all that, he or she will love the chance to make friends and have fun. Plus, they let out all that energy and every parent knows that is essential for getting little kids to go to sleep at night!
Climbing Is Now An Olympic Sport
Sports over the years have evolved to include so many more categories, especially when it comes to the Olympics. Sports Climbing is set for the next Olympic Games and will be divided into 3 areas – lead climbing, speed climbing, and bouldering. The winner will get a score that is combined from the completion of all 3 of those areas.
With climbing as part of the Olympics, that means more climbing facilities will be sprouting up everywhere. Instead of just being encouraged to play soccer, football, basketball, baseball, or hockey, kids can now find their niche doing something that feels solo yet requires working well with others.
Climbing Boosts Confidence
Climbing is a wonderful way to help your child feel proud of themselves. As you know, if you’ve been doing this a while, it feels amazing to reach the top of something so high up. When you gaze out at your accomplishment, it’s tangible. You can see how far you’ve come. It’s definitely a metaphor for life itself.
Your kids gain so much self-confidence when they get up there. They learn that all their effort can help them conquer any challenge. Yes, they will fail at times, but don’t we all when we try something new? As with anything in life, it’s not common to make it on the first try.
Climbing teaches this kind of perseverance to work hard to reach the top. It’s patience, strength in mind and body, and trusting oneself and those they work with to get it done. These are skills your child will need as an adult in the working world, and there’s no better time to build upon them than right now.
What does a bouldering program for kids consist of?
Along with heaps of patience, kids need to learn the skills it takes to successfully rock climb as they go along. Each step is important in developing the skills necessary to pull off rock climbing. First, they should get used to it just by playing around.
Climbing low to get a feel of vertical movement like in bouldering is ideal. Incidentally, this is also a good starting point for adults, especially those that want to challenge themselves but feel timid about the approach.
Bouldering is great because there’s no rope involved. The heights are low, and the mats are thick. Kids should just be encouraged to have fun and try it out. As they start doing it more, other skills can be introduced.
After that, kids can start learning how to use a harness. Swinging them and lowering them in it isn’t just fun…it’s an essential skill for more advanced climbing. After that, kids should be taught all those safety techniques from where to put their hands and feet to those basic climbing techniques.
So, should you pack up the car and take the kids out to the rock for some climbing? Not just yet. Read on!
Indoor or outdoor bouldering for kids?
While both are great for kids to do, it should all begin indoors. Indoor climbing has a more controlled space. It’s far less dangerous and intimidating when kids are learning inside with mats everywhere. True that you’ll place a mat outside when bouldering, the climbing gym makes it more approachable as kids get a grip on their grip. Once they have built up more confidence, going outdoors for bouldering is the next step.
At the climbing gyms, there are usually spaces for kids to have fun and climb the corners while playing around. This is ideal when you have little ones that want to be like you. As they get older and more skilled, you can take your adventures in bouldering outdoors together and find nature along the way. Walking the paths up to the walls and enjoying the beauty of the world will make memories your children will treasure forever.
Is bouldering safe for kids?
While it sounds very rugged and rough, bouldering is safe for kids. It’s safe for adults too. The key is to get comfortable with the techniques. Again, this is usually much safer and more controlled in a climbing gym. There are safety measures in place for a reason. No one would ever go there if everyone was always leaving injured!
While climbing sounds dangerous, it’s not. But you have to walk before you can run, and thus, learning to climb through bouldering and then going up the wall with a harness in that gym are the best ways to keep things safe as you and your children train and learn the skills necessary to take it outdoors.
Don’t forget that climbers have all kinds of safety measures. All that equipment is designed for safety. If it didn’t work, no one would be around to teach the sport let alone open climbing gyms!
Every sport has dangers. In football or martial arts, kids come into direct contact with one another, but that doesn’t happen in climbing. Kids learn that they must rely on their safety equipment and use it correctly while working with others. In the meantime, when your kids are small, they can enjoy the kid-friendly areas of the climbing gym and get a taste of the sport until they’re old enough to fully train for it.
Is bouldering for kids affordable?
Every sport has costs associated with it. Think uniforms, the proper shoes, equipment, and all those things. Bouldering has needs, too, but it is affordable. Prices will most certainly vary depending on where you live. If you’re in a big city, you will likely have many more choices than someone far out in the suburbs. Give it a try though. You may find that you and your kids love climbing together and turn it into a family activity.
Some climbing gyms might even have a discounted rate for kids or even group rates that make it easier to afford. You can rent equipment until you’re sure your child wants to really do this. Then you’ll be investing in good climbing shoes and a quality helmet, plus all the other gear. In the beginning though, you can simply go to the climbing gym and try out bouldering. Take it one step at a time and go from there.
Can toddlers start climbing too?
If you have a toddler at home, you likely know why you spent so much time bolting furniture to the walls. Toddlers love to climb. At their age, they have no fears. They’re just going on their own human instinct.
Rock climbing isn’t exactly for toddlers though, as no toddler out there can understand belaying and harnesses. Instead, you can encourage them to try bouldering in the kiddie area of the climbing gym. These areas are usually kept pristine and up to industry standards to keep little ones safe while exploring their climbing skills.
Generally though, kids should be at least 4 years old before they attempt bouldering. You can find some climbing sets for at-home use that are designed for kids as part of a swing set and slide combo. That might be a great option if you have a large yard. If not, take them to the climbing gym with you when they’re big enough and let them play around with bouldering. You may just find you’ll have another climber in the family.
Kids can start bouldering young, but they won’t really have the skills and strength it takes to go rock climbing until they’re a bit bigger. There’s no harm in starting them off now as long as the environment is a safe one, and you’re not pushing them or being critical. At this stage of the game, it should be fun. Bigger skills and techniques can all be taught in time, so let them enjoy getting into it!