Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do

It was with great pride that I taught the Bear how to climb a tree the other day. I hoisted her into a large, Y-shaped joint. While she got her bearings, I instructed her to make sure that she always has at least three body parts touching the tree – one hand and two feet, two hands and one foot. She asked if her bum counted.

Spring was in the air, but it was still chilly. Ice had formed on the sides of the puddles and the wind was bringing out the redness in our cheeks. Snow still sat at the base of the tree. Banana sat perched inside the stroller wrapped up warm in blankets while she watched her big sister test the strength of branches above her.

After a few minutes, the Bear gained her confidence. Without my help, she wedged her foot into another joint, grasped another branch and pulled herself higher. She screamed with excitement. The scream garnered a few onlookers from the walking path. One man smiled. Another woman – expressionless – looked at the Bear in the tree, stopped, then noticed me and kept going. No doubt wondering what I was thinking.

It was undeniable joy that the Bear beamed at me that day. Her smile overtook her face as she sat on the cold bark of the tree about 15 feet from the ground. I looked upwards nostalgically remembering my tree climbing days. (Not that they have completely ended, I did manage to scramble up the tree in our front yard to hang a swing last spring while I was pregnant with Banana).

Coming down out of the tree was a bit of a different story. The Bear had a moment of seeing the impossible. But I coached her down like my mother had coached me: “If you can climb up, then there must be a way to come down.” When she tumbled into my arms at the final juncture, she couldn’t stop grinning.

I had a moment when I thought that age four might be a little young to teach my daughter how to climb a tree. But then again, what age could possibly be the ‘right’ age?

It was a few days later when I found this great video titled, Five Dangerous Things for Kids on TED. Tree climbing wasn’t included, but I believe still embodies the spirit the speaker’s message. Incidentally, the speaker, Gever Tulley, has just released his book titled, 50 Dangerous Things you Should Let Your Children Do. I’ve suggested it to the Edmonton Public Library and I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy soon. Here’s the video.

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7 Responses to “Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do”


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  2. 2 Michelle March 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I have a friend who doesn’t even let her kids climb on the sofa for fear that they’ll fall off (they’re 2,4 and 6). A bit extreme, if you ask me. The rule in our house is that if you can get yourself into it, you’re old enough to do it, and you can get yourself out of it. Of course, we do offer some coaching and encouragement if the boys start to question themselves. What could be better for their confidence? We’re expecting a few broken limbs and scars along the way…

    Way to go Bear!!

    • 3 Mama Tortoise March 28, 2010 at 3:20 pm

      Agreed, Michelle. A sofa? Remember when broken limbs, scrapes and bruises were a badge of honour? (At least I remember feeling that way as a kid!) Unfortunately, now many activities are looked upon through the lens of their likeliness for causing a law suit. I doubt, for example, that Edmonton Public Schools would allow tree climbing on the school grounds.

  3. 4 Heather March 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Totally agree. I fully encourage Joseph to climb already. I’m just waiting until he’s old enough to have climbing lessions at vertically inclined.

    • 5 Mama Tortoise March 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm

      Don’t think you need to worry about formal climbing lessons – loads of things to climb out the back door! That said, friends of ours installed a climbing wall in their basement… totally fun!


  1. 1 Tweets that mention Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do « Tortoise on the Loose -- Topsy.com Trackback on February 22, 2011 at 4:43 am
  2. 2 Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) – Book Review « Tortoise on the Loose Trackback on May 29, 2010 at 9:36 am

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