Surprise! Children are nearly three times more likely to be admitted to the hospital from falling out of bed than from falling out of a tree.
That's just one of the amazing facts in this pro-tree-climbing manifesto on the delightful (and really well-written) Rain or Shine Mama blog by Linda McGurk. Linda is also author of "There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids." She writes:
Tree climbing has real benefits for kids – physically, mentally, cognitively and socially. Just think about it. As your child scales the tree he’s building muscle strength, practicing gross motor skills such as balance and improving spatial awareness and proprioception (the awareness of your body’s position and movement, sometimes called the sixth sense). When he decides which branches are safe to stand on and how high to go, he’s learning how to judge risk and developing critical thinking skills. As he plans his path up through the limbs, he’s gaining decision-making and problem-solving skills, and if things don’t go according to plan, he gains emotional strength and resilience by trying again. When he successfully negotiates the branches, he feels a sense of accomplishment, which in turn boosts his self-confidence.
But what if they get hurt?
In 2016, researchers from University of Phoenix surveyed 1,600 parents who let their children climb trees and found that the most common injury by far was scraped skin. Only 2% of the parents responded that their child had broken a bone and even fewer had suffered from a concussion. Meanwhile, more than 3.5 million American children under the age of 14 receive medical treatment for injuries from organized sports every year.
So basically we have deemed unsupervised activities as unacceptably dangerous, even as we give the possibility of dangers in supervised activities a pass. We have "dangerized" independence.
Next time someone says you aren't hovering enough? Tell them to go climb a you-know-what. And meantime, tell us: What did tree climbing give YOU as a kid?
Photo by Graham Crumb/Imagicity.com .