Trees: In my opinion children should be free to climb them. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. In fact, I strongly believe such activities should be encouraged.
A while ago I was made aware of a rather depressing statistic. It was from a research project carried out just a few years ago and it discovered that a third of children had never climbed a tree.
I’m realistic enough to accept that kids don’t spend as much time outside as they used to. Computer games and wireless devices, not to mention the rise of risk-averse parenting, has definitely led to kids spending less time outside and that’s sad.
Even so, I like to be optimistic and think that things can’t be quite as bad as the statistics make out. That’s what I like to think, although an experience I had the other day suggests otherwise.
I was out with my kids and we were having a picnic on a gloriously sunny day. Helen, my seven-year-old, found a tree that she was able to climb. Up into the branches she went to a height of about two metres and she was very proud of her achievement.
With our picnic finished we moved on. Some other kids had seen Helen in the branches and as we left, a young boy took her place.
This kid was easily a couple of years older than Helen. He therefore had more strength and was clearly more than capable to climb up the tree.
His mother then arrived on the scene. I will diplomatically say she had a sense of humour failure. No, let’s not be diplomatic about it, she lost it with her kid and started screaming at him, demanding he get down. There was no abusive language or swear words, but her behaviour struck me as over the top and I felt for her boy.
Surrounded by friends his own age, not to mention his mum’s friend, this kid lost his nerve. He struggled to find a way down.
The one thing I try not to do is judgement. His mother may have had very good reason to demand her son get out of the tree. Did he have a track record for getting stuck? Had he fallen out of a tree when younger? Was she going through a divorce and having a particularly bad day? There are a number of possibilities but the way she reacted seemed, to me, over the top.
Whatever her reasoning, I won’t change my ways. Would I encourage my kids to climb a Canadian Redoowd? No, of course not. As far as possible, however, I want them to lead the active, outdoors childhood I did. That means they will be free to climb trees, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
Do you let your children climb trees? Have you banned your kids from climbing trees and if so, why? Please leave a comment below with your reasoning.