You’ve gotten your child interested in rock climbing.
They go on mountain bike adventures with you.
You’ve even got them excited for ice climbing:
So how do you keep the momentum? How do you keep them interested, and excited?
Help them feel accomplished
I have written an article called, “Creating Adventurous Children” in which I talk about keeping the activity challenging, but easy enough so they can feel a sense of accomplishment when they overcome. Feeling proud and accomplished is vital so they don’t get discouraged.
My praise only goes so far, especially the older my daughter gets. She knows I love her, and she knows I’m going to be proud of her. On the first few times of doing something new, she grins ear to ear when I tell her how proud I am of her. The praise eventually loses its luster though if I’m the only person giving it.
Keep it fresh
We’ve been rock climbing together now for almost 2 years. During this time, she was very eager in the beginning to climb with me, but she started to get discouraged and lose a little interest when it became too challenging, or the landscape didn’t change. Trying a different gym really helped.
Now there is a new gym to explore, with new routes, new obstacles (our normal place didn’t have a tunnel from the top of the wall to the bottom), and other things to keep the experience fresh.
Generally kids won’t work a boulder problem for weeks. That’s a dedication adult climbers may have, but usually not kids (though she did work a boulder problem for about an hour – a long time for a 10 year old). This ties back to my previous article about keeping it challenging, but not too challenging, otherwise they’ll get discouraged. Pick up some child psych books to understand the dangers of repeatedly feeling inadequate, and you’ll understand why we need to avoid this.
Inspire their friends
It’s amazing to pass your own outdoor passions onto your children. I feel very blessed to be able to share these activities with my daughter, and have her be interested in almost all of them. Something else truly worthwhile is sharing these activities with their friends. Not only are you enriching another child’s life (which is a core belief, echoed in my motto, “Love Broadly”), but you’re also helping your own child stick with the activity at hand. Why? Because of the same benefits you get: The love of sharing a new activity with someone, the joy of encouragement, giving praise when they overcome an obstacle, and having friendly competition.
Everyone loves to share their passions, and giving your child the ability to share their passion with their friends, puts them in a position of mentor, and most humans love that. It’s why Montessori schools are gaining traction across the nation. We all have a desire to pass on knowledge and experiences, and your children are no different.
Find other encouraging adults
As you can see in the video above from her first ice climb, we climbed with an instructor and volunteer from the Pictured Rocks Climbing Academy This was great for my daughter, because Emily from the PRCA works with kids, and knew how to be encouraging and make the event fun. As with most climbing, there can be a lot of waiting around while someone is on the rope. Emily’s tip: sharing snacks goes a long way to making everyone have a good day of climbing, especially while waiting their turn on the rope.
Simply having another adult to be encouraging can really help your child’s self esteem when it comes to something new. I think Emily’s encouragement was critical for my daughter to want to ice climb again, and for her having an amazing day on the ice.
Kids are human
Their maturity, life experiences, and wisdom aren’t the same as yours. But they experience a lot of the same emotions and joy as you do. You’re human. Kids are human too. Think about the reasons you’re motivated and inspired when doing something difficult, and I bet you can find ways to translate that into something your child (and their friends) can understand and also be inspired by too…
… And don’t forget snacks.