Image by Wendy Harman
When we were little we wanted nothing more than to climb a tree, but our kids seem to be more interested in computer games! It’s time we showed our little ones just how much fun the great outdoors can really be, bringing back the activities we loved so much when we were their age. Here are some great tips for parents, looking at how to climb a tree safely, and how to rejuvenate our children’s interest in adventurous, unstructured, and wild play.
How to Climb Trees Safely
There are two ways to climb a tree: climbing a tree, and climbing a tree safely. As parents, we all want our kids to have fun, but we also want them to stay safe so it’s important that we teach them some methods and techniques that will allow them to scale the branches carefully and cautiously, reducing the risk of accident and injury. Just remember: children should always been supervised by an adult when tree climbing.
- Pick the tree carefully. Look for a tree that has a strong trunk, and thick branches that will be able to take your child’s weight. Keep an eye out for any dead or decaying branches that could break, and for animal nests – it’s best to leave these trees alone. Choose trees with branch positions that welcome climbing – the branches should be relatively close together with no need for big jumps.
- Encourage your kids to take it slowly, examining the tree as they move upwards. They should be looking for secure footholds and handholds such as small branches, knots, and holes in the bark, and alternating between using their feet and their hands. Ask your children to always test a new hand or foothold before placing all their weight onto it by pressing down on the area to ensure it’s sturdy enough.
- Kids shouldn’t be looking down while they’re climbing – they should keep looking up. Low hanging branches create obstacles and the last thing your little tree-climbing monkey needs is a headache from banging his or her noggin on an overhead branch. Looking up is also a great way to keep an eye on the route, and determine which way would be the most suitable to continue climbing upwards.
- Explain to your kids that they don’t have to climb all the way to the top of the tree to have fun or to be an expert tree climber. Some branches near the top of the tree may be newer and weaker than those further down so climbing up high might not be safe, and some children may begin to worry if they climb too high. Encourage your kids to climb to a height they’re comfortable with, and not to compete with their siblings.
- When coming back down, explain to your children that there is no rush – the slower they go down the better. If possible, children should try and take the same route back down that they took up as it’s familiar and they know it’s safe and secure. Again, alternate between the hands and legs, and keep looking down to try and find good footholds and handholds. Sticking close to the trunk is preferable as the structure will be stronger here.
How to Turn Climbing a Tree into a Fun Game
While tree climbing in itself is fun, it’s even more fun when it’s transformed into a game! Here’s a great game to try out either in the park or in your own back garden that will turn your kids into super strong fire-fighters!
Many kids will have seen children’s TV shows or read kid’s books about firemen saving scared cats that have gotten themselves stuck up a tree – so why not make tree climbing a role play game, challenging your kids to save pretend animals that have become stranded in the branches?
To make the game even more real, you could use some of your kids stuffed toys and place them around the tree and up in the branches for them to collect.
The Messy Aftermath
Tree climbing may be a fun and adventurous activity, but it’s certainly not a clean activity! All that climbing is sure to leave a few stains on your kids’ clothing, but the good news is that mud and grass stains are actually really simple to remove. Persil small & mighty promises full stain removal for grass stains in a 40 degree wash, making it easier than ever before to get rid of those green smudges. Persil offers some great tips for removing grass and mud stains without the hassle – be sure to check them out!