If you’re out for a walk in the woods with your child, sooner or later there’s a good chance that she’ll attempt to scramble up into the branches of a tree. There’s just something irresistible about finding the right little notches to place her feet, pulling herself up from branch to branch and leaving the ground far below. Then there’s the victorious cry from her lofty vantage point, “Mummy, Daddy, look at me!”
Any child who’s ever attempted tree climbing will know that it is both an exciting and risky business: there’s that heart-in-the-mouth moment of testing a branch to see if it will take your weight, the exhilaration of reaching dizzy new heights... and that dreaded feeling
of having climbed so high you can’t get down again.
To avoid any child-stuck-up-tree predicaments, it’s a good idea to examine the tree beforehand and limit your child’s ascent to a point you know she can safely get down from, or you can easily reach her. “Thick, sturdy branches are best for tree climbing,” says Shaun Nixon, Learning Projects Manager at the Woodland Trust. “If a branch is thinner, lighter in colour and doesn’t have any leaves on it, it’s probably dead and should be avoided.”
In time, your child will grow in confidence and be ready to handle greater heights and trickier trees. And, as well as developing her ability to judge risks, tree climbing will nurture her respect for nature.
This article previously appeared in Junior magazine as a print article