The "Side Effects" of Rock Climbing
It's not just about having fun
I've said it before but I'll say it again - adventuring with kids is about so much more than just having a good time (although that's REALLY important too). When we explore together in the outdoors our kids, and us parents too, learn skills that will stick with us for the rest of our lives. This was reaffirmed to me last week while listening to the podcast She Explores. If you need some laughs (maybe some cries too) and some inspiration for taking your family outdoors than I totally recommend this podcast full of of stories of women who are inspired by time spent outside. The episode I most recently listened to was the Mother's Day edition which was full of stories and experiences from girls who had their lives changed due to their moms taking them outside to explore and grow in nature. This short video I created, with my family, highlights one of the "side effects" of climbing that we've seen with one of our own kids. The video is rather short but for those who are interested, let me give you a bit of back story.
The pediatrician evaluation
Denali, my oldest and the little one that made me a mom, has always been way ahead in her "developmental skills". I'm sure there is a more formal term but let's just call it that. Each time I took her to the pediatrician for her check up I was handed a questionnaire which prompted me to have Denali perform a certain skill and then check off if she could do it. Denali always scored really well in each category except one; problem solving. When it came time to problem solve Denali would opt to sit and cry until someone helped her. She was pretty darn stubborn about it too! I would do my best not to come in and save the day for her but each time she would get so worked up and overwhelmed that she could hardly see let alone think clearly enough to solve the problem.
The day she couldn't open the door
We continued to encourage Denali to figure things out on her own with little progress. Denali has a really good friend who is our back door neighbor and they are practically inseparable. For awhile there, Denali was always at her house and if not her friend was over at our house to play. One day Denali had gone over to her friend's to play and it was time for her to come back over to our house to eat dinner. I text the parents of the friend and asked them to send her home.
"We sent her home awhile ago, we're not home anymore..."
You can imagine the panic I had after receiving that message! We are literally next door neighbors, what on earth could have happened to her from their house to ours? I ran outside and started yelling for her. Nothing. I ran over to their house and started looking in the windows. There she was, crying at the door. I sent a text back to the neighbors asking how I could get into their house and was able to help Denali get out. She had been left in their house for forty five minutes, crying at the door, and yelling for someone to help her.
It was kind of a silly accident that had happened. The neighbors had sent her home but she never actually went home before they all left for dinner. They had no idea that she was still quietly playing in the upstairs bedroom. Every door was locked and had a child lock at the top of the door. The thing about it is that Denali had unlocked both the doors and the child lock a hundred times before. The child lock wasn't difficult to undo, it was just at the top of the door and out a reach. The kids used a kitchen chair to stand on to reach it and like I mentioned before, Denali knew this.
Denali was faced with a problem to solve and she reacted in the same way she always did, by crying and waiting for someone to help her.
I realize this is a bit of an extreme example. Any kid probably would have been very scared to be locked in a neighbors house alone. Maybe i'm expecting too much from her to be able to calm down and remember that she needs to use a kitchen chair to reach the top lock. We had seen this pattern time and time before though, giving up before even trying, getting too worked up to think clearly, and waiting for someone to come and bail her out.
I can't help you from down here
We started rock climbing a lot this summer. I found another mom who loves to climb and is willing to drag the kids along too! Each time we went climbing I encouraged the kids to try at least one time. The first time Denali got on the rock she was really excited and made it halfway up the route before coming to what climbers call the crux, which is the most difficult part of the climb. I'm sure you can guess what happened. Yep, giving up, crying, and asking for me to help her. The thing about climbing though is that the belayer is not really that much of a help the the climber. They are at the bottom of the route and don't have a very good view of the rock face. Denali had to figure it out where her next hand hold and foot hold were by herself and it was pretty painful for both of us.
I don't think she made it to the top of the route that day but we came back and tried again. Each time she made it farther and farther and each time she grew more confident in her ability to make it to the top. Now she can stand at the base of a new climb and find a way to the chains at the top with out crying or being too overwhelmed to figure it out. This is a HUGE improvement since the beginning of the summer and something we have all celebrated together!
From the rock to everyday life
Probably the best part about all this is that we haven't just noticed a change while rock climbing. Denali has been able to keep calm and figure out a solution to her problems around the house too! It's pretty cool to be able to have fun together rock climbing and be learning life skills at the same time.