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Arianne Brown: Let your children climb
As I joyfully watched my 2-year-old climb along the side of an iron fence as he used his newly acquired motor skills, a nearby adult came by and told him that it was not safe to climb. I beg to differ. Here's why. - photo by Arianne Brown
Recently, while waiting to pick up my kindergartener from school, I watched my 2-year-old son, Axel, explore a small iron fence that boarded the playground area.

With his 3-foot tall body, he moved his feet carefully (and sometimes not so carefully) along the fence line. It was fun to watch as he stepped one foot in between two posts, moving each along while holding tightly to the top with his hands. As he moved along, he looked at me, and I smiled back, proud of how my little guy had begun to develop his motor skills and how brave and independent he was getting.

All that changed when an adult who had also been watching walked up to Axel and waved her finger, saying, Dont you climb, little boy. Youll get hurt.

Axel came running to me, crying because he had gotten in trouble, and I hugged him to help stop the tears. As I consoled him, I told him he was OK and that the lady wasnt trying to be mean. I did not get mad at him for climbing.


Because it is OK to climb.

Yes, I said it.

My kids climb. They climb kitchen cabinets because thats where the cups are, and Mom takes too long to get one for them. They climb trees because its fun to get up high and see the world from an adults perspective, if not higher. They climb fences because sometimes waiting for the neighbor to throw the ball back over takes too long.

Climbing is a life skill that is getting lost because adults are afraid of kids getting hurt rightfully so because they do get hurt.

Heres the kicker: Although kids get hurt, they bounce back and are better than they were before because they learned.

As a momma of seven active kids five boys and two girls we have seen our share of staples to the head, glue to the chin and casts on the feet and hands.

My son who climbed on a kitchen chair and stood on it backward, tipping it and himself over, knows not to do because it ended with him breaking his foot. My son who climbed a willow tree with weak branches and fell, spraining his foot badly, knows willows are not good climbing trees.

Had Axel, who was joyfully exploring the ins and outs of an iron fence just a foot taller than he is, fallen off and gotten hurt, he, too would have learned either not to do that or how to better navigate it next time.

I will continue to enjoy watching my kids climb and explore their world at higher vantage points. I will continue to hug and console them if they get hurt. More than anything, I will cheer when they reach that high point theyve had their sights on.

Who knows? I may just join them.
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