I think the competitive thing is a bit misleading. Rock climbing is a very competitive sport. I'm on a rock climbing team.
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There are many benefits of rock climbing for kids, including both mental and physical aspects. On the physical side, rock climbing is a great way for kids to stay in shape. Mentally, it promotes focus and other positive attributes. For children who are otherwise uninterested in competitive sports, rock climbing can be a great healthy physical activity. Most importantly, rock climbing is relatively safe when compared with contact sports and is therefore a good alternative when injuries are a concern.
The most obvious benefits of rock climbing for kids are physical. Rock climbing is an intense physical activity requiring coordination, strength, and flexibility. At more advanced levels, building strength can be essential to completing certain courses. For beginners, the challenges are usually kept to a manageable level. Even though rock climbing may not seem as intense as running, it does work to keep the body healthy.
Mental benefits of rock climbing for kids are equally as important. Rock climbing requires strategies and focus in order to make it to the top. Children who have difficulty concentrating can often develop mental focus through rock climbing. A feeling of accomplishment might also be seen as a mental benefit, and this feeling often encourages increased physical activity in order to meet the next challenge.
One of the benefits rock climbing has over other children's sports is that it is generally not competitive. Team sports and competitive sports are not always a good fit for certain children, particularly those who are shy or uninterested in competing with others. Activities like rock climbing do involve social skills, but they do not involve the same type of cooperation as a team sport. From a parental perspective, this should not be seen as a bad thing, as different people enjoy different kinds of social interaction.
Some parents may be concerned that rock climbing for kids is not safe because of the heights involved. When all safety precautions are observed and the child is well informed about the dangers of the activity, the danger involved is almost entirely nullified. Children are often taken on specially designed courses that are safer than those meant for adults, making the activity even less dangerous.
Since rock climbing is not performed with a group of peers, parents often find that rock climbing has the benefit of being a family activity. Parents can rock climb with children and learn together. This activity is a great bonding experience for climbers of all ages, which can be excellent for the children involved.
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