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rob

Lowering children

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I took my 4-year old daughter on her first roped climb on Saturday. She had a blast.

 

But, despite lots of coaching and practice on the ground, once she topped out, she was too scared to step off the ledge enough to allow me to lower her.

 

Any suggestions on getting over that?

 

 

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Lowering Children? Just cut 'em off at the knees! Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

 

Seriously, the trick is to practice lowering while they are only a short distance off the ground, say ten feet. If that works, try 20 feet. If they can do that they can lower from the top.

 

They have to get the mechanics of it while they are still free from fear.

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Another thing I've done with my kids is tie the free end of the rope onto the back of their harness (i.e. the end that is coming out of my belay device) so it's like they're pulling a haul line up behind them. I use this just to overcome friction if needed (I find the kids are so light that if there's a little friction in the system sometimes it's hard for them to start lowering) and also to coax them left/right if they need it on the lower. I guess you could also use it to provide some "encouragement" if necessary... just make sure there are no social workers around.

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I’ve been working with my 5 year old daughter at home throwing the rope over the swing set, lowering down the stairwell, and the occasional tree limb.

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Yeah, just a little practice just off the ground to get her comfortable with the idea. Also, if you demonstrate it a bunch in front of her she'll get over her fear because "dad does it, it must be ok".

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This has been a major issue for Thing One who is now 11. He still sketches out and has a limit as far as how far he will go up, becuase he knows he has to come down. I listen to him and let him direct his own climbing. he will over come his fear when he is ready. it is very common for Asperger kids to have an inate fear of hights and a need to be on or near the ground.

 

thing two on the other hand likes to stop half way up cus he likes to swing around on the rope ;)

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I married a climber, then, together we raised a couple climbers who are now 20 and 23. They grew up around it, and I assumed they'd love it from day one, but I was wrong.

 

There were no gyms in our town back then, so we always asked if they wanted a top rope wherever we were climbing outdoors. We were careful to never push them as some parents do. Don't assume you are raising a climber, let them make all the calls.

 

Until my son was 10, he never went higher than 20 feet. Seemed to have a built in height limit. Even then he was very tentative and nervous about heights.

 

Soon he discovered something scary he could do better than dad (bmx jumping) and that was it for climbing for about 5 years. Around 19, he suddenly got over his fear, and took an active interest in the sport. My daughter slowly and steadily grew into it, but doesn't lead.

 

 

A year ago, I was belaying him up one of his first leads. He was in a ledge fall situation, far above a bolt, on a route he had picked out. You spend all those years holding their hands, keeping them safe from danger, and then they take up climbing...I remember agonizing over the guilt as he worked through the moves. If he takes that ledge fall, and ends up in the hospital, does that make me a good dad, or a bad dad?

 

I feel really fortunate that the whole family climbs. We'll all be vacationing in the valley this year, together. Patience, over the long term seems to be the key.

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