Rock climbing has been growing in popularity in recent years. With more and more public climbing figures, it’s no wonder why kids are starting to look up to climbers the same way that they might look up to basketball or football players.
Trying to find the best way to introduce rock climbing to kids can be challenging, but we’re here to help you figure out the answers to all your burning questions. From what age to start taking your kids climbing to what gear you’ll need to buy for them, we’ll cover it all.
Why Introduce Kids to Rock Climbing?
Rock climbing is a great sport with lots of benefits, including physical activity, mental activity, and social connection. All three of these are amazing for kids, so why not introduce kids to rock climbing? Rock climbing for kids is a great way to integrate physical activity and problem-solving and keep them having fun and engaging, all at the same time.
There’s no rock climbing age limit, either minimum or maximum, so rock climbing is a great activity for the whole family. From bouldering to roped climbing to just scrambling around and exploring, there are so many different ways to take your children climbing and get them out exploring and moving.
As rock climbing has grown in popularity in recent years and with its addition to the Olympics, more and more kids are likely to start getting involved in the sport. Rock climbing offers kids a place to explore and develop alongside other kids in a challenge-based way. It can also be a great way to help deepen the connection between you and your child and build trust. With so many benefits to introducing your kids to rock climbing, what are you waiting for?
3 Benefits of Rock Climbing to Kids
With no minimum age for rock climbing, you can start getting your child involved at any age that you want, and with so many benefits, there are plenty of reasons to start young. Here are a few of our favorite benefits of rock climbing for kids:
1. Help build strength
Rock climbing is a great way to help build strength in kids. Not only can it help kids stay in shape and develop healthy muscle tone, but it can also help strengthen the ligaments and tendons that hold our joints together. Stronger joints mean that you are less likely to suffer from minor injuries, and the same goes for a child.
Teaching children to be physically active from a young age and helping them find a physical activity that is engaging for them is a great way to help set them up for success later on in life. In the modern world, there are so many sports and activities that kids can choose from, and rock climbing is a great option for many kids.
2. Keep your child entertained and off screens.
Keeping your child entertained and off screens can be challenging, but rock climbing is a good option. Kids are naturally curious and are born wanting to explore. Finding an activity, such as rock climbing, that allows them to be curious and explore safely is an excellent way to help support your child’s growth.
Even without the addition of competition, many adults view rock climbing as a social activity, and the same is true for kids. Being given a space to freely explore and converse with others while pushing yourself is something many kids enjoy and find themselves wanting more once they have tried it.
3. Help develop problem-solving ability.
Rock climbing is, at its core, a problem-solving activity. Whether you are practicing roped climbing or bouldering, rock climbing requires a lot of mental focus to succeed. Even if you are just bouldering around and not working on any specific problems, figuring out how to move your body from hold to hold is a mental workout.
Keeping children engaged mentally is exceptional for their brain development. Pairing this mental stimulation with the physical activity of rock climbing creates an awesome balance that can both draw children in and keep them engaged. Giving kids the space to work through the problems and routes of rock climbing on their own is a great way to help them develop independent thought and creative thinking skills.
What Type of Rock Climbing is Recommended for Kids?
- Rock Climbing for 3-5-Year-Olds
When kids are little, in the age range of three to five, they are still exploring what their body is capable of. Introducing them to a controlled, challenge-based activity, such as rock climbing, can help build their confidence in both their body and their mind. Once they see what they are capable of when climbing and the challenges they can overcome, kids often come away with an increased sense of self-confidence.
Of course, rock climbing for toddlers and other young kids is always a challenge since keeping young children focused for extended periods of time can be hard. Take your lead from the child and understand that rock climbing will push them out of their comfort zone, so you’ll need to take it slow. Allow your child to pick if they want to climb up high or stay close to the ground, as this will help give them control over the activity and help build their confidence and bodily awareness.
- Rock Climbing for 5-12-Year-Olds
As kids get older, finding rock climbing classes for kids can be a great option. Although you might love climbing with your child, finding the balance between supporting them and pushing them can be hard. Putting your child in a class or camp with other kids their own age and with trained instructors can help give your child the space for growth and development that you love so much about rock climbing.
This age range is also a great time to introduce the idea of competitions if that is the direction that you and your child decide that they want climbing to go in. Rock climbing competitions are a great space for kids to push themselves and grow as individuals while learning the benefits of working as a team and supporting their teammates. They will learn valuable skills related to problem-solving and physical training as well.
Rock Climbing Gears and Equipment for Kids
Investing in rock climbing gear can be expensive, so figuring out what to buy for kids and what to rent for kids can be a challenge. Here are the top items that your child will need to start rock climbing and our suggestions for what to rent and what to buy:
1. Climbing Shoes
Climbing shoes are something that should fit snugly to your feet, but if you only go climbing once every month or so, it might not make sense to invest in expensive shoes for your child. Especially when kids are young, they can grow out of shoes so fast that renting climbing shoes might be the best option. If your rock climbing gym has a good selection of kids rental shoes, which most gyms do, we don’t recommend buying your child shoes until they get older.
On the other hand, if you have a child who goes climbing a few times a week or is in a rock climbing class, it might make more sense to invest in a pair of shoes that fit them well. Used climbing shoes are also a great option for kids since most children won’t wear shoes long enough to destroy them before they grow out of them. Buying used climbing shoes can be a great option for a kid who climbs a lot but is also growing a lot since having well-fitting shoes is important.
2. Climbing Harness
There are two main types of kids’ climbing harnesses, chest harnesses and seat harnesses. Each style has its own weight and height recommendations, so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for which harness is best for your child. Making sure your child is using the proper size of harness is essential to their safety.
When your child is young, if you take them climbing frequently or tend to climb a lot outdoors, it can be worth investing in a highly adjustable chest harness. Chest harnesses fit around both the legs and arms and minimize the chance that a child will slide out of their harness.
Once a child is older and starts to develop more, they are able to switch to a seat harness, which is the style of harness that adults use. There are companies that make highly adjustable seat harnesses as well, but these can also be rented if you aren’t going to be climbing too often. Again, if you mostly climb outdoors, you’ll probably want to invest in your own harness and not rely on renting.
3. Climbing Helmet
When climbing indoors, you might not be required to wear a helmet, but if you ever take your child outdoors climbing, you will need a helmet. Many adults choose not to wear a helmet when outdoor climbing for a variety of reasons, but it is super important for kids to wear a helmet when outdoor climbing. Protecting a child’s brain is of the utmost importance.
Since a helmet is usually pretty adjustable and is not the most expensive piece of gear, you will need to buy it, and we recommend buying your child a helmet if you plan on climbing outdoors. Hard-shelled helmets won’t cost you too much and are super durable, making them a great option for kids.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Introduce Rock Climbing to Kids
With no minimum age for rock climbing and more gyms offering classes and providing rental gear for kids, the sport is getting easier and easier to bring kids into every year. From the physical benefits of rock climbing to the mental challenges, rock climbing is amazing for the muscle and brain development of a child. We can’t recommend taking your child climbing enough! We know that the benefit to you and your child will be amazing, and have you both coming back, again and again, to continue to climb together.