Little Dude has begun a rock climbing class a few weeks ago. He absolutely loves it… of course, anything dangerous! He’s definitely my kid. I was the same way as a child. I loved all those adrenaline rush sports. We were just back from Florida and a friend of mine was taking her kids to the class. I figured why not, I’ll check it out and never gave it much thought. He has never climbed before. I mean, of course he’s climbed up the stairs and at the playground, but to climb, bolder, and repel. Never.
We arrived at the rock gym and Little Dude looked around and turned to me and said, “I want to climb the highest of all, like a million miles”. I say “okay”, and finished the registration paperwork. He rushed me to hurry up and said “Mommy, let’s go”. I finished and we walked back to where the class was. You would of thought we were at Disney. His face lit up and he was so excited. “Mommy, look at that”, “Look there is a tunnel”. We were at a real rock climbing gym. It was pretty cool.
We walked back to the children’s area and his instructor went over the rules and how to put on a harnesses. She asked if anyone had any questions and Little Dude raised his hand and said, “I want to go highest of all”. “Okay”, she told him. Probably thinking okay, yeah right. And asked if he has done this before. He told her “no”, then repeats himself, “I’m gonna go highest of all”. I’m just sitting there like, okay dude… Whatever.
Little Dude listened to the instructor like he has never listened to anyone else before, as she explained the technique for climbing, bouldering and repelling. He didn’t take his eyes off of her the whole time. The instructor said this was a more advanced course and they could start with a different one, but the whole class wanted to start with that one, Ketchup & Mustard. The goal was for the kids to climb up and reach the blue colored wall. Little Dude watched all the other kids climb; he listened to what the instructor said to each of kids, as he waited for his turn.
When it was his turn, the instructor said, “this is a more advanced course, we can start with a different one since this is your first time”. He told her, “no thank you”. He watched as she clipped the rope to him and she showed him he was connected to her, by the rope. He listened to her instruction. Then he said, “ready to climb” and she said “climber, climb away”. And off he went, up the wall. Reaching, climbing, moving up, passed the green level, and then passed the blue level. He climbed and reached the top and hit the silver bar on the ceiling. He did it! Little Dude went highest of all. Then he sat back in his harness and repelled down. The instructor told me he was a natural.
The whole class cheered for him and I was so proud of him! The other kids in the class didn’t get as high. Some cried, refused there turn, some mother’s pushed their kids kicking and crying, some tried bribing them with donuts & lollypops, and others just said whatever, and let them be or only go as high as they choose to go.
One mother, in the class really stood out to me. She was an avid and experienced climber. Her son wanted no part of climbing. Over the few week session, she pushed, and pushed practically climbing and dragging him up the wall with her. He was scared, crying, and very emotional. She was determined to make him climb. They had been taking climbing classes for a few sessions. Her son obviously did not like climbing and had some true fears. And every class she pushed, and pushed and each week the same situation played out.
I truly felt bad for this little boy and his mother. Both of them were discouraged. The mother was mad because he just wouldn’t do it and he was upset because she was forcing him. At first the conversations would start off positive. Reassuring him that he can do it. Then it would take a turn. “Look, this one and that one did it”, “why can’t you, what’s wrong”, “everyone is watching, do you want them to laugh at you”. The mom would get more and more annoyed and then the little boy would cry more and more.
How far should we be pushing our kids if they really don’t like something? People push their kids to eat different things all the time, so what is wrong with pushing them in activities or sports? Is it different? And how much is too far? Is there a certain age that makes it better? Do you think at 3 years old kids know what they really want? I felt very bad for both of them. I kept thinking is it worth it, getting upset, frustrated, and making your child feel bad about themselves. I mean really, is it worth it? What are you teaching them? I just don’t think that kind of pressure should start so young. Do you?
I’m all about pushing outside of the comfort zone, but when is pushing them too much. Is it okay to keep pushing them when the child is really scared? Or is that just pushing them out of their comfort zone? Where is the line? In a million years, I never thought my son would enjoy this sport so much. It’s a sport that my husband and myself really know nothing about, nor ever done before. And if my friend didn’t tell me I would have never known about the class. I’m all about exposure to something new and different. I figured it’s a 4- week session if my son didn’t like it we would try something different.
All I want to teach my son, when it comes to activities and sports is, if you commit to participate on a team, for a session, or for a season, then do it. Participate, give it a go, and do your best. Whatever that may be. If it is not for you we won’t do it again. But finish out your commitment and try your best. And I will do my best to listen to your likes, dislikes, goals and what you want to accomplish. I won’t continue to sign you up for something you don’t like.
I hope that mother and son figure it out sooner then later. It maybe a sport or activity that she loved but maybe her child doesn’t. It can crush that vision in your head, of your son being the “greatest climber”. It can be hard to cope with, but he’s 3 year old. It’s not worth ruining your relationship. Let him be… And who knows, maybe he will love it, one day, when he is older.