Parenting: My son is literally climbing walls!

November 11, 2010

Not only does he race up our trees like a monkey, he can shimmy up any pole or pillar like a member of Cirque de Solei. I'm not surprised by Luke's incredible climbing abilities. After all, he was climbing out of his crib soon after his first birthday. After a few falls, we moved him into a toddler bed. His sister, Emma, didn't try climbing out of her crib until she was well past two, when Luke instructed her how! But, as a mom, every glimpse of his climbing talents has me envisioning a trip to the emergency room.

Although it may cause anxiety for parents, climbing helps develop a youngster's mind in a variety of ways. Child development experts say climbing builds pathways in the brain that teach the muscles and brain to work together and especially how to use both sides of the body at the same time. When children climb, their eyes and brain work together to learn where to grab and hold, where to place knees and feet, important skills for developing spatial awareness skills.

But climbing often involves falling. So, as parents, it's responsibility to try to keep our little monkeys as safe as possible. When Luke and Emma were toddlers, I bought them a "Kangaroo Climber," a little portable, plastic tower with a slide. I bought it inside and put it over a mat. Now we try to teach Luke his limits: what tree is safe to climb; what doorway is too high. Instead of trying to stop the climbing, we try to redirect our children to safe, appropriate places to climb.

We're considering switching Luke from his sports class to gymnastics, somehow trying to tap into his natural climbing abilities. And I'm sure one birthday party in the near future will be at an indoor rock-climbing gym. To add to it, today I caught Luke trying to teach Emma how to scale the stairwell.

Happy parenting! Cecily

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