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How I Taught My 2-Year-Old To Climb At The Playground

The following was syndicated from Medium for the Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at

It’s really amazing what an hour alone with a 2-year-old can teach you. After we dropped Yitzy’s brother off with Mommy — with the stroller, Yitzy and I stopped off at the bookstore and then set off on the journey home — without the stroller. We were only a 10-minute walk away from home but when you’re with a 2-year-old, a 10-minute adult pace can translate into a lengthy journey.

Yitzy learned how to walk a few months ago, but he wanted to be carried, and needed to be coaxed (read: bribed) by some “Made Good Granola Mini” snack pouches in order to keep going on his own 2 feet. He did pretty darn good, I have to say. We were gaining ground at a decent toddler-paced clip, except for stopping along the way to interact with cats wherever they were spotted. At the playground is where I got some real nachas, though, because that’s where we practiced climbing for the first time.

RELATED: The Best Rock Climbing Gear For Kids

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My initial reaction at the playground was that it might be a little too big, since the kids going down the 6-foot slide were all bigger than Yitzy, and because he didn’t seem too interested. For the first few minutes we were there, Yitzy was getting immense enjoyment out of a game he was inaugurating: chucking his water bottle repeatedly at the ground to see what would happen.

As I was sitting there, a small boy, probably older than Yitzy by about a year, came up to me to tell me about his icy pop. (I kinda wish I was that courageous when it came to talking to strangers.) As I sat there conversing with this youngster, I saw my own son struggling by the climbing arc. Moments earlier, the disciplined side of me decided that the water bottle chucking game was not productive, and so I took the bottle away and instructed Yitzy to make use of the neighborhood infrastructure which my hard-earned tax dollars helped pay for.

Then, all of a sudden, it somehow dawned on me that climbing can be taught.

We had an unspoken agreement and mutual trust that I would not let him fall and help him to the top each time, as long as he would give it his all.

I asked the little boy with the icy pop if he would teach my son how to climb. He dutifully obliged, walking over to the arc, and reaching its peak with ease. I gave my Yitzy a boost by lifting his butt, and he began reaching forward and up. The initial movement that he made showed me that he was ready to put forth effort to overcome this obstacle, and that gave me the patience to stay with him.

Over the next half-hour or so, Yitzy climbed the arc up and took the slide down many times, with great pleasure and satisfaction. Each time he was ready to go up I helped, giving him a boost without doing the work for him. We had an unspoken agreement and mutual trust that I would not let him fall and help him to the top each time, as long as he would give it his all.

Etan Efrati is a start up enthusiast who is interested in e-commerce and marketing.