Rock climbing is an amazing sport for kids. It can help improve their physical health and mental health and is a fun activity to help you bond with your child, but it is not without its hazards and risks.
We’re here to help you weigh out the benefits and risks of rock climbing for your children. From discussing how to introduce your child to climbing to how to help them minimize the chance of getting hurt, we’ll cover it all!
What is the Ideal Age for a Kid to Start Rock Climbing?
The short answer is that there is no ideal age to start climbing. Most climbing gyms will allow kids to start climbing between three and five, but it really is up to you. Kids of different ages are capable of vastly different climbs, but climbing can be an engaging activity for kids of all ages.
3 Types of Rock Climbing Kids Can Try
With so many different types of rock climbing out there, figuring out what type is best for kids can be hard. Here are our top 3 types of rock climbing for kids.
Bouldering is a great introduction to rock climbing for kids. It is a great way to go indoor rock climbing with your kids and start to introduce some structure into their natural scrambling. Bouldering is relatively safe and controlled, giving the kids free rein to explore and move around.
2. Top-rope climbing
If you want to introduce your child to roped climbing, top-rope climbing is the best place to start. It offers a safe way for kids to start to build up their endurance and discipline in a controlled way but lets them go higher than bouldering, which some kids love.
3. Sport climbing
When your child is good at top-roping or is older and needs more of a challenge, enrolling them in a sport climbing course at your local gym is a great option. This will allow your child to begin to understand how to take risks safely and help them build their balance and breath control.
What are the Benefits of Rock Climbing for Kids?
There are tons of physical and mental benefits of rock climbing for kids, but here are some of our favorite benefits of rock climbing for kids:
1. Increased self-awareness
Rock climbing requires self-awareness to be good at, and self-awareness is a skill that takes time for kids to develop. Practicing self-awareness through a sport like rock climbing can make it more fun and engaging for the child.
Many kids who rock climb find that they are more aware of where each of their limbs are at any point in time. They know how much they can push themselves, but most importantly, they know their limits. Having a healthy understanding of your limits will help minimize the risk of injuries later in life.
2. Increased balance and body control
Balance and general body control are just a few of the many skills that are essential to being a good rock climber. Like body awareness, these are also skills that kids develop over time, so adding a sport to help your child develop these crucial skills is an excellent way to set them up for success.
From balancing on a tiny foothold to being able to move your body carefully around an obstacle or up the wall, the body control and balance, a child gains through rock climbing will help them in everyday life. These skills can even help minimize the number of times your child trips over their own feet in a day.
3. Better physical health
Sports and physical activity, in general, are excellent for everyone’s health but are extremely necessary to a child’s healthy development. Rock climbing is by no means the only sport that can improve a child’s physical health, but it is a great option.
From overall strength to endurance, rock climbing is an amazing full-body sport. It is also a fun, social activity, which often makes it easier to keep younger children engaged and actively participating, as opposed to just watching the adults have all the fun.
4. Improves problem-solving ability
The list of rock climbing benefits seems to go on and on, but one of the less physical and more mental benefits is the increased ability to solve problems. Rock climbing really is just one giant puzzle. This means that while your child is pushing themself physically, they are also keeping their brain engaged with their surroundings.
Practicing problem-solving skills daily or almost every day is a great way to help your brain grow. This is true of people at any age, but especially for kids, who need mental stimulation to continue forming new neural pathways. Rock climbing is a super fun way to incorporate problem-solving into your child’s life.
5. Helps to build self-confidence
Self-confidence is something that a lot of kids struggle with, and while rock climbing isn’t an immediate fix for a child struggling with self-confidence, being able to work through a challenge and get to the top of a climb can be really helpful in helping them work to overcome their self-confidence challenges.
Rock climbing is all about working through challenges, and learning how to overcome and work through challenges in a healthy way is one of the best ways to help kids learn how to improve their self-confidence. Seeing that they are capable of something they thought they couldn’t do is a great way to help your child see how much they are capable of.
Risks Associated with Rock Climbing for Kids
Is rock climbing dangerous? What hazards are there? Well, don’t worry; we’re going to discuss some of the risks and hazards of rock climbing here:
Concussions are one of the injuries that worry parents the most. Repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage, so it makes sense to be concerned about these, especially with kids whose brains are just developing.
While concussions do happen when rock climbing, they are not as common as you might think. Since concussions come from impacts to the head, making sure you are using the proper gear to keep your child safe, such as a safety harness and helmet, as well as learning valuable skills, such as how to fall safely, will help minimize the risk of head injuries when climbing.
2. Joint injuries
Joint injuries, such as dislocations, are more common than concussions when rock climbing. They can be damaging but tend to be relatively easy for a medical professional to relocate, but they are something to be aware of.
Learning how to climb safely and how to fall correctly will help minimize the risk of your child injuring any of their joints. However, it is always a risk to be aware of since anything can happen, especially with young children.
3. Strains, sprains, and twists
Simple injuries, such as sprains, strains, and twists, are the most common risk associated with rock climbing for anyone. Sprained ankles from landing wrong happen to lots of climbers, but the good news is that they are hardly ever serious.
Although this category of risk is the most common amongst climbers, they are also the simplest to take care of. Make sure that your child is mitigating all the risks they can, but allow them to push themselves and grow. If the worst thing that happens is a sprained ankle, you are doing pretty well.
3 Rock Climbing Safety Tips for Kids
Climbing is a great way to help your child learn and grow, but it is not without risks. Here are our favorite ways to help your child stay safe while climbing:
1. Have your kids take a climbing class
For some reason, kids are often more likely to listen to someone who isn’t a mom or dad. This means that enrolling your child in a rock climbing class taught by a professional is one of the best things you can do to provide your child with the skills they need to climb safely without causing a fight between you and your child.
Most rock climbing gyms offer kids climbing classes and camps, so try checking in at your local gym first. If you want to help your child transition to outdoor climbing, try hiring a professional climbing guide to help show them the ropes.
2. Use the proper climbing gear
Ensuring your child uses the proper safety gear is an amazing way to help keep them safe. Investing in a well-fitting harness and helmet is essential to your child’s safety while climbing. Since these pieces of gear are designed to keep your child safe, this is not the place to be cutting corners.
Make sure you check your child’s gear frequently for any wear on the material that could indicate a potential weak spot. Store their gear in a dry, well-ventilated space, ensuring it doesn’t stay damp with sweat or rain after a long day climbing, to keep the gear in the best condition possible.
3. Teach your kids to take care of their bodies properly
Teaching your children to warm up before climbing and cool down after climbing is essential for maintaining their safety throughout their climbing career. Understanding how to take good care of your body when doing a physical activity is the best way to help maintain your body for more activity later on down the line, and instilling this knowledge in your kids is a lifelong skill.
Wrapping Things Up: Is Rock Climbing Safe for Kids?
Overall, rock climbing is a great way to help keep your kids active. Of course, as with any adventure sport, there are hazards and risks to be aware of, but there are many ways to help minimize these risks. Ultimately, rock climbing offers way more benefits for kids than it does risks.