How kids can play with the best climber around: Dad!
Why do kids love climbing on their parents? Around our house, I can’t lie on the floor for more than a second before our daughters’ instincts kick in (“Adult down! Adult down!”) and they rush over to take turns doing bellyflops onto me. Just like a professional wrestler, I can expect knees to the groin, a belly dropping on my face, an elbow in the throat — all accompanied by gales of squealing. It’s showtime and I’m the ring. I love playing this way with Odessa and Sasha. It makes me laugh hysterically. Mind you, that could just be a symptom of organ damage.
It turns out horsing around with your kids is good on many levels. Rough-and-tumble play helps develop their muscles, coordination and balance, and stimulates imagination. The National Institute for Play notes that such play builds character, helps prevent aggressive behaviour, and can even be “a glimpse of the divine.”
These games are suited to most kids from about 12 months old (depending on their level of head control and muscle development) to three years and beyond.
Hold onto your hat, cowboy — this classic is still a favourite. While you sit on a chair, your child straddles your leg, facing either forward or backward. Hold her waist and bounce away. Some parents like to sing a song. I like to tell a story. The ride starts off smoothly (small bumps), then the horse has to jump over a puddle (big bounce), then he sees a rabbit and runs after it (fast bouncing); then — whoa! — he stops suddenly at the edge of the cliff (drop the knee).
Child straddles both legs. This is more comfortable if your legs are skinny, and lets you open your legs for a sudden drop when the horse falls in the big hole!
Get on hands and knees and carry your little one straddling your back. Careful — even a child with good balance can fall off fairly easily.