/ Younger kids going to bouldering walls.
Just wondered what peoples experiences were with getting young kids into climbing. My lad is 3 and a bit - i noticed that the local bouldering wall does kids sessions for 'any age'. He likes climbing ( messing bout at Font, climbing things he shouldn't etc) will follow some instruction (swimming lessons etc.) Just wasn't sure whether it would be lost on him/ if he would follow the instruction for an hour. Has anybody else got their younger kids going to a climbing club? Its Leeds depot i'm talking about in particular.
Took my three and a bit lad a few times. He doesn't have the concentration, he'd prefer to run around so I just go to soft play now.
I know plenty of four yr olds who like Clip n Clip (tm), hour sessiobs. And a few who don't.
My opinion is that roped climbing at that age can be better, as it is posdibly safer, they can't run about, you can hoist them if stuck, they can rest on the rope, and many of them love being lowered. Plus there's the whole challenge of heights. However, you'll get no climbing done yourself (but would it be the same too idpf bouldering? You'd want to supervise that pretty closely ).
At that age even simple exposure to the environment is interesting and motivating for them - highly social, challenge available if they want it and to be frank, exposure to a decent range of dirt which will do him no harm!
Personally I'd say go with your partner and take turns to play with/encourage him between bouldering yourself. Zero pressure, keep it mega fun and you'll be building a great positive experience for him whilst getting a decent session in yourself. The climbing will then naturally follow in the future. Enjoy!
My 3 year old loved roped climbing and bouldering. It takes a few times to get them to concentrate long enough but now she has better technique than me! Her footwork is amazing!
Please set a good example for other parents and keep your child safe, I have (in two years) twice nearly landed on, and brushed past a running toddler when falling of problems. Weighing 75kg I think they would have easily been hospitalised but for a few inches either way...
If the session in question is 'Rocktots' - it's well worth checking out.
It's excellent, very likely your lad will love it.
I went to Kendal Wall with my little sister - aged 7, so a bit older. We went to the bouldering area that is set aside for kids, and there was no-one else there, which was great. She was quite excited, but didn't quite see the point of climbing one colour to the top of the wall - and the height scared her. So, my partner and I played a game with her where we hung a red buff around a hold and she had to climb to get to it. Then she got to place the buff, and we would try to get it (with her saying which holds we could use). That worked well.
When we went upstairs, though, where there were adults trying hard on problems, it was quite an intimidating environment for her and I was worried she would step under someone, as excitement + lack of judgement are a tricky combination. Apart from the other people, the bouldering wall was much higher and many of the problems didn't suit her, as the holds were quite far apart relative to her height. We went back downstairs pretty quickly, as I couldn't think of any way of making that room work for her.
I take away from that:
1. It's hard to control the kid whilst keeping the atmosphere light and fun.
2. There's a lot of objective danger where others are climbing.
3. The "games that climbers play" might not appeal to kids, but other games could work well.
4. Rooms/walls where there is child-specific setting are a big bonus.
Not a parent myself yet so can't speak from that perspective but (as alanblyth says) unsupervised kids are one of the reasons I avoid my local bouldering wall at certain times. Too many little people running about under overhangs.
Don't want to discourage you too much as I used to teach kids climbing courses. It's great to see them climbing but would suggest that if you do take them bouldering then keep a good eye on them.
I've tried this, but actually my two prefer our local clip and climb - where they have auto belays - they don't have to wait for their turn, the wall has 'exciting' holds and so on. They also like outdoor but indoor bouldering - not bothered (to be fair, neither am I).
From our experience 7 seems to be the magic age where our son is asking to go climbing. We took our son to the wall when he was younger, but with mixed success. Sometimes he only wanted to be there for 20 mins (which felt very poor value for money). The exception is the miniworks, which seems like a great wall for much younger kids.
We climb at Kendal quite regular. That kids room is actually the best set of problems I have seen specific to youngsters. Its set by Adam Hocking and co and its always interesting and a worthy visit even if just to warm up for going upstairs. Even if the childs skills aren't at the level its still a interesting room to play and not get into any trouble
Over 12's in the top room im afraid.
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