30 December 2022
The decision on whether to allow your children to climb trees or not really rests with you as a parent and it is not something that anyone can tell you definitively. There are pros and cons on either side of the argument. On the one hand, allowing and encouraging children to climb trees can improve their balance, strength and interest and understanding of the natural world. On the other, it can be dangerous and can result in cuts, bumps and broken bones.
It can be distressing to see your kids get hurt, for the parents as much as the children and it is an understandable reaction to want to wrap them in cotton wool and forbid things that can represent danger.
It can be a problem when forbidding things sometimes, that the forbidden thing then becomes a focus of fascination and becomes exactly the thing that the child is fixated on doing. The difference being that if you forbid it, they will do it in secret and may not want to own up to injuries sustained in case they get into trouble.
There is an argument to be made that it can be better to permit the interest in tree climbing and know when they are doing it, even supervising and advising about which branch they should try next, becoming an active participant in their adventures as this will mean that you retain a measure of control and have the reassurance of seeing them grow in confidence and skill at climbing.
It can be a real boost to a child’s self-confidence to learn that they are good at something like this. As long as adequate safety precautions are taken, such as ensuring they wear long sleeves in order to minimise the likelihood of sustaining scratches and cuts, there shouldn’t be all that much to worry about.
It is important to instil a set of safety rules at the start of their climbing adventures so that they know how high up is appropriate for them to be climbing and which types of trees are best suited to being scaled.
Chat with them about techniques for getting the best handholds and footholds and deciding on the next steps. The chances are that if it is an area of interest for them, they have watched YouTube videos on the subject so don’t be afraid to ask them what they have watched and take the time to learn from this material as well.
In large part, the decision on whether to allow your child to climb trees comes down to how comfortable you are with your children learning how to grow and do things independently of you. For some parents, the urge to protect their children can outweigh any potential good in allowing them to climb trees and for others, the urge to let them make their own mistakes and learn from them can be equally compelling.
There is no right or wrong answer and there is no reason that either approach won't lead to your children becoming resilient, responsible adults, with a healthy sense of adventure.