Climbing is something that a lot of children do instinctively. Why stop them?!
Climbing is great fun
Its new, its something different, and believe it or not, it always can be. There are so many new and exciting things and places to discover in the world of climbing, that enjoyment can remain a fundamental factor throughout a climbers life. Whether it's the enjoyment of making it to the top of their first wall, the enjoyment of completing their NICAS level 1, the enjoyment of their first outdoor climbing experience, or the enjoyment of their first teenage climbing road trip.
Okay, so concentration levels do vary a lot between children, but nothing quite grabs the attention of even the most unfocused children than climbing to the top of a wall while attached to one end of a rope. It's an all consuming thing.
Not quite what you'd think from a sport that appears very individual. Teamwork forms a big part of the movement skills learning process and problem solving ability while in the bouldering wall. Not to mention, when it comes to roped climbing - everyone is always climbing in pairs. They might seem far away at times, but the teamwork required to check each others safety and motivating one another while climbing forms a really big part of roped climbing for young children.
One of the nice things to see when a group of children start climbing for the first time is that they don't always excel to the same degrees as they might do in other sports i.e. the sporty kids aren't always the best. Because of the methodical, problem solving nature of climbing and bouldering, you'll often find that intelligence often trumps natural athleticism (a complete reverse from other sports). Not only does this boost the confidence of the intelligent children, the right group of children gain a healthy respect for one another when they realise that typically advantageous traits aren't much of a help in climbing.
This one is arguably exclusive to climbing, especially when compared to a lot of the common sports and activities that children will encounter throughout childhood. Not every activity can offer a child the understanding that another person's life is in their hands, and that the same is reciprocated when they're climbing. Obviously, there are measures that we put in place to make sure that lives aren't at risk during that learning process. But there is definitely a turning point in every young climbers life when the penny drops and suddenly they understand the importance of their role in the system.
It can sometimes sound like a dirty word that comes hand-in-hand with a picture of pushy parents, excessive stress levels and disappointment, but good, healthy competition can be fantastic for children. Whether it's the small scale competition of games in a kids club, or national level climbing competitions, they all have the potential to teach children really important skills such as empathy, tenacity or even something as simple as taking turns.