Most children have a natural urge to move. They usually climb early: they sit up at chairs or coffee tables before they learn to walk. Later, it continues on trees and climbing frames with zeal and courage. Most children enjoy climbing!
At what age can a child begin with rock climbing or bouldering? For climbing and bouldering, children must be coordinatively able to move hands and feet in a controlled and independent manner. In principle, children can already climb in preschool age. At the age of seven, most children can try climbing. The age is only a guideline. If you go climbing with kids, and bouldering, follow these tips to have more fun and keep your kids active.
Climbing promotes natural development
Climbing is fun for most children. Climbing obstacles motivates children, they like to try out. Courage and the ability to assess risks are promoted. Effort is rewarded with success and one can sometimes also fail, without the world ending.
The skills required for climbing are manifold: strength and coordination are trained, and the perception of space and body becomes better through climbing. The children learn to concentrate and take responsibility. Climbing extends movement repertoire and mobility. In addition, children experience climbing and self-determined action and its consequences directly and immediately.
When climbing, difficult areas can often be resolved with agility and sensitivity, which is less disadvantageous to girls, who usually have less strength than their male counterparts, than other sports. Climbing is inclusive and opens up the freedom to try one another within the framework set by safety rules.
Other requirements include a relatively high degree of self-control, a sufficient attention span and the ability to concentrate, not to be distracted easily. The children must be able to safely follow even more complex instructions. These skills should be brought to children if they want to start with bouldering or climbing.
Climbing with a rope
When climbing on higher walls, a top rope and a safety harness is added. Prerequisite for this form of rock climbing is the ability to concentrate and a sense of responsibility. The children must be able to keep a cool head even in stressful situations and concentrate on their rope partner. Younger children do not have these skills yet. It depends on the level of development of each child when these skills are trained. Belaying should ALWAYS be done by an adult!!
Climbing equipment for children
Children secure each other in climbing courses right from the start, but they work long with back-up. This means that an adult person with some distance still controls the safety rope. Only if the safety competence is sufficiently developed in the estimation of the trainer, the child will climb without supervision, but still supervised. Experience shows that children from primary school age usually have the necessary conditions. According to the recommendation of the Alpine Club (DAV) can begin with securing under control for about eight years, self-securing without supervision is only possible from 14 years.
When children with a lot of climbing experience take their first steps in the lead and are backed up by much heavier adults, it is important that the belayer master the “soft belay” to avoid hard impacts and a dangerously hard impact on the wall.
Bouldering for beginners, then rock climbing
Children want to play and playfully explore. Playing and enjoying doing things should be the most important thing when climbing and bouldering with small children. As a mother or father, you quickly realize if a toddler is having fun. It may also be that a child has a great desire to boulder on one day, not on another. That’s okay and child-friendly.
For the entry is the bouldering, so climbing up to four meters wall height on soft floor mats. Bouldering lessons for children without parents can be useful from the age of five if the bouldering hall is equipped with child bouldering facilities. From this age, children are usually able to concentrate and follow instructions and rules.
Competitions and performance-oriented climbing for children
Depending on their motivation and abilities, children climb ambitiously or compete in competitions. Already for six- to twelve-year-olds, the national associations of the DAV offer Kids Cups, where children can compete with each other in a playful competitive situation. Others soon pull out with their parents or leisure groups on the rock. Even if children participate in competitions or like to try out how hard they can climb, the playful nature of climbing should always be in the foreground.
Although children rarely overburden themselves and, unlike athletic ambitious adolescents, usually do nothing that causes them pain, it can sometimes be necessary to slow down their urge to move a bit. Children from the age of twelve can certainly do physical strength exercises. However, they should not go to the campus board or fingerboard, and the repeated retention of very small handles should be avoided. Particularly sensitive in children and adolescents are the growth joints of the fingers, the tendon attachments on the bone and the still relatively soft articular cartilage.
Bouldering: Safety Basics
Boulder gyms are not playgrounds, but sports facilities. Races and toys are prohibited in the boulder area as this can lead to serious injuries.
Important: Do not stay under a bouldering person, the jump or fall area must always remain free!
Caution: Many children (and many adults) can not estimate how extensive this area is. As far away as possible from the wall or in the middle between two walls. This rule should be re-discussed with the child each time before entering the boulder mats. Parents must ensure that this rule is adhered to – a breach of duty is a criminally relevant act!
The Boulder is not secured, here is “ridiculed”. The spotter always keeps an eye on the bouldering person and, with his arms raised, stands behind them so that the spotter can stabilize or steer the boulder in a fall so that he lands safely on the mat. The spotter should make sure that there are no objects or persons in the lintel area. You have to explain to children that spotters are the only people allowed to stand behind a boulderer. Who has never “spotted”, it should be shown.
Are there good Bouldering games for children to keep them motivated?
There are various bouldering games that even parents with very little experience in bouldering can play with their children. It makes sense to motivate small children through tasks that they can master well because they are inspired by small success experiences and the excitement and the fun of bouldering remain. It is important that the children know and understand the rules of the boulder. No other bouldering people should be bothered or even endangered by the bouldering games.
Save the animal
This game is perfect for a stuffed animal. Depending on the age and ability of the child, it is placed on an easily accessible grip and the child is allowed to boulder to him and get it. It is important not to overstrain the child and to place the stuffed animal in three meters height. It is sufficient if the child has to make two or three climbing moves to catch it.
Mum or dad should be able to get on well with their hands to their own child if it gets scared and you have to help with climbing. It is not unusual for children to be motivated and carelessly bouldering up to a certain height and then realize that they are more anxious and do not dare to boulder down again. Therefore, the first boulder trains should take place within the easy reach of the parents. It does not always have to go up. You can also let the children traverse left or right.
The cuddly toy can be put upwards, depending on motivation and courage. The child should let the stuffed animal down after reaching down and not climb in the arm because it is so limited and can slip off the handles. A variation is to give the cuddly toy to the child so that it can put the animal itself on a handle. Mum or dad must then boulder to cuddly toy and get it. For this purpose, the stuffed animal should be placed eg in the waistband of the child so that the child has his hands free to boulder.
Hide small toys
If the little ones are braver and want bigger incentives, it’s best to bring small toys that stay well on the handles. These include, for example, Playmobil figures, large puzzle pieces or small toy cars. These are placed on top of the handles. The child can either watch or it has to shut his eyes. This makes the game a little harder because the child first has to search for the items. Then the toys can be taken out of the handles.
Either one object after another is brought or they are all taken out of the handles one after the other, without coming back to the mat. It should be noted that the child does not boulder above or below other children. Here, as already described above, the toys should be carefully dropped down and not thrown, and the children should not climb with an object in their hands. Parents remember best where the cars or figures are because they can often no longer see from below. All toys must be found again and taken!
A game that demands a lot of attention from the parents but fun for the kids is bouldering blindfolded. Because seeing is an important part of climbing and bouldering, connected eyes pose a special challenge. Touch and confidence are put to the test.
This game should only be played with children who are familiar with the boulder wall and also feel confident in bouldering with blindfolds. For this, the child’s eyes are hidden. Sleeping goggles or a scarf are good. The parents say the direction and the position of the handles. At the beginning, the children stay close to the ground and traverse. The parents basically scoff at the child in this game. If it’s braver it can boulder uphill too. The child should always remove the blindfold if it feels unwell. It should also be removed to boulder down.
General information about bouldering with children
Children and parents need to understand that bouldering gyms are not playgrounds but sports facilities. Even Boulder games must take place in a disciplined manner. Running, screaming, flying objects or toys on the mats can cause injury. The items that are used in Boulder games, must always be removed from the mats and handles.
Respect gym rules
Each gym has its own rules. However, always keep in mind to not stand below someone bouldering or climbing. The jump or lintel area must always remain free! Since children can not yet estimate how extensive this area is, they must always be sufficiently far away from the boulder wall. Even in a children’s gym. This important rule should be re-discussed with the child each time before entering the boulder mats. In addition, parents must ensure that their children adhere to this important rule.
Have an alternative program Children usually boulder very much. However, this is not true for all children and not always. Coloring books, puzzles or a small card game in a backpack provide variety and can save the bouldering session. Sometimes even a small meal break helps. If games can not motivate and the mood is bad, it’s best to take a break or stay open for a spontaneous alternative program.
I hope you enjoyed this post, read more here, why climbing and bouldering are great for your kids!