What’s with all the climbing?

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What’s with all the climbing?

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On three separate occasions last week, caregivers asked me what to do about the climbing?

What did all three children have in common? They were all two-years-old.

What did the climbing look like? In home and at child-care, climbing on child sized tables, coffee tables, couches, chairs, other children, and end tables.

Why is this problematic? Well, in many instances, it puts children in an unsafe situation and at risk for falls and injury. It also can put children within reach of items that have been placed safely OUT of their reach (for example: television sets, bottles of lotion, the guinea pig cage, etc.)

So, what can we as caregivers do to PREVENT climbing? Climbing is a natural part of life, and a natural way of gaining gross motor skills and coordination. All young children experience climbing, and when they do – they gain core strength and fine/gross motor control. To attempt to “prevent” it would actually be a detriment to the child! However, the question should be…

How can we SAFELY allow our toddler to climb, gain strength and improve motor skills?

Well, after some discussion, here is what we have come up with!

The need to climb is intrinsic! Therefore, you can’t get rid of it. There is a reason that children go through a climbing phase, and it is very important! All we can do is make sure that we provide safe opportunities to refine those motor skills and climb, CLIMB, CLIMB!!

  • Snag a large appliance box and open both ends up. Allow your child to climb through the box! To strengthen fine motor skills, allow coloring or decorating on the box. Have an adult cut a window or door in the cardboard for more gross motor fun!
  • Locate a laundry basket. Empty it, and encourage your toddler to climb in and out. Pretend it is a car, or a train. Push and pull the basket! Encourage language like “go, go, go” or “choo choo”!
  • Bring those couch cushions on to the floor! (You might even find loose change!) Play “King of the Mountain” or just climbing together with your toddler over these uneven surfaces provides some much needed core strength and balance skills!
  • Tunnel play! Have you seen a fabric tunnel on sale recently? If not, ask around, and borrow one from a friend. Tunnel play requires crawling, which strengthens bilateral coordination, and provides sensory input. Play a game of peek-a-boo, and pop your head in to the tunnel!
  • How about Rough-n-Tumble play? Have you rolled around on the floor lately with your toddler, just wrestling and laughing? Toss in a tickle here and there! There are many benefits that mimic climbing!

So, what is the bottom line? Find a way to SAFELY allow your toddler to climb, at home, at the park or at their child care center. Climbing is essential to motor development, and it will not “go away”, so working together to find a way to provide climbing experiences is a necessary part of Early Childhood Development!

In what ways has your child shown their desire to climb? How have you quenched their thirst for climbing? Did it work? Share with us!

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