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Why climbing trees is important for your child

Child development

Why Climbing trees is important for your child

Climbing takes brain power

As children growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, we used to play outside a lot.  Climbing on jungle gyms, riding bikes, climbing trees etc.  We had no problem getting in and out of a tree.  Fast forward a few years and I find myself standing in front of a tree, trying to figure out how I am going to get up, and more importantly, how I am going to get down.  See, I joined this outdoor fitness group and it’s really amazing.  It challenges you physically but more so it challenges you mentally.  As I was watching the others getting up and down the tree, I realised something.  A simple thing like climbing in and out of a tree, even with little steps added to make it easier, requires not only physical strength, but it makes your logical brain work in ways that you don’t realise. 

What goes up must come down

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Most of the people got up pretty easily, but when they were up in the tree, they suddenly struggled to find a way down.  You could see their mind working trying to figure this thing out.  Some got it right, and others had to be guided down.  This whole experience taught me one important thing:  Children need to climb trees.  Learning to make decisions while you are up in a tree, feeling scared because you think you are stuck, is extremely important for developing problem solving skills under pressure.  It is something that some of the young people in our fitness group struggled with.  Figuring out how to get out of a tree was an extremely difficult thing for some of them to do.  The older people in their 40’s had it easier to get out even though the younger kids were fitter and stronger. 
Children need to develop their skills through climbing.  Climbing develops more than their physical muscles.  It promotes brain development, problem solving, decision making and working under pressure.  
 
As parents we tend to overprotect our children.  In some cases this does more harm than good.  For example if your child is in a tree or on a jungle gym and he can’t get off, do not immediately go and take him down.  Rather direct him.  Teach him to make a plan to come down.  Guide him by asking questions like ‘where do you think your left foot must go to get down?’, or ‘can you find an easier way to tilt your body to get down etc’.  This guidance will teach him to think and to solve problems and will improve his learning skills.

climbing trees & jungle gyms improves:

  • Physical strength
  • Decision making
  • Logical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Working under pressure

Quick Reminder: Safety comes first.  Always make sure that you supervise your child while climbing.  

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Watching rugby with toddlers

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Watching rugby with toddlers can be a challenge.  Toddlers are the spiders of the human world.  They invade your personal space, they can appear and disappear at will, you have to keep your eye on them and you are too scared to upset them as it might cause a terrifying reaction.  

With the rugby game the first issue is always the use of the tv.  Even though there might be 3 other tv’s in the house, chances are good that your toddler will want to watch his show on whatever tv you want to watch the rugby on.  Try to create a distraction to get him away from the tv and pray he doesn’t return crying in mom’s arms.  

Putting out snacks before the start of the game is never a good idea.  It will either get halfway eaten, thrown on the floor or start a massive sibling fight.  Beware of the “wet chips” situation while the game is on.  It’s never a nice feeling to accidentally put a half licked chip in your mouth when you’re trying to focus on the game.  

As the game progresses you will start to hear a moaning sound coming from your toddler.  It starts quietly but progresses into sounding like three cats fighting in the street at midnight.  There might be many reasons for this, but it is never a pretty sight.  As you calm your toddler down he will start to climb all over you like you are a jungle gym.  Be careful as you might end up with a foot or fist in the face.

While your toddler is jumping on you like a trampoline, he will notice that your attention is not fully on him.  This is when the head-tilt technique starts to occur.  Your toddler will continuously tilt your head from the tv to him. This usually happens when a try is about to be scored.  

When the game is tight and you are tense, make sure there are no toddlers around before you start yelling at the ref.  Toddlers don’t always listen when you tell them to do something, but their ears are tuned to absorb any curse or swear words.  These words are locked into their memory and will be used next time a game is on and grandma and grandpa visits.  It might also be used when you drop them off at school in front of the teacher or the pastor’s wife.