Kids who don't climb trees are 'cotton-wool' kids - Do you agree?

This week, there's been alot of talk about new research which shows that only 20 per cent of today's children take part in the pastime of tree climbing, compared with 64 per cent of their parents. Article from

When I first read this article, I had an image of The Sound Of Music come to mind. You know the one of the Von Trapp children hanging off the trees as their father drives by?
I googled, but couldn't find the image that I wanted. There's a challenge for you ;-)

Updated: We have the photo. Thanks Karen!!

Photo Credit:
Now I don't know about you, but I was never a tree climber. We didn't have any climbing types of trees at our house - only fruit trees. My dad was always of the opinion that unless a tree bares fruit, it's not needed in our garden. I do have memories of my grandmother climbing up trees to get the best plums or figs, but we were never allowed to.

My kids don't climb trees, but they do plenty of other outdoor activities where they need to use their imagination. Pretend games against baddies and fairies. Kick balls around and play totem tennis. They ride their bikes and scooters every chance they get. The run around - just for fun.

Being a cotton-wool kid, I think my kids are alot more free and liberated to explore and ride and play outdoors than I ever was.

What do you think? Are kids more "cotton-wool" these days or have times simply just changed?


Unknown said...

I think a bit of both is probably the answer. My daughter climbs trees at relatives with climbing trees, I did some but was never very good at it, plus I was afraid of heights.
As a parent you have to make a choice to push your kids to use their imagination and play outdoors etc. And also to turn a somewhat deaf ear to reports of all sorts of tragedies we hear on the news seemingly daily, often from places far away, that make it seem like danger is around ever rock and blind corner.

Karen said...

Found a photo for you here:

From this blog:

I totally want to go to Austria now and do the Sound of Music tour.

As for cotton wool kids... I think there are a lot more cotton wool kids these days but I'm not sure who's 'fault' it is. I climbed our backyard tree as a kid, but my kids wont be able to climb trees very often as we live in a new housing estate and the only tree that was climbable was knocked down to put in more houses.

There just isn't the same opportunities now that many of us had as kids (and I grew up in the suburbs, not like I was a farm girl or anything).

I'm glad that we live near what is going to become a 'wetlands' in our estate. Hopefully there will be frogs and ducks and the kids can come home covered in mud and potentially half drowned! (The little one is having swimming lessons already.

Quiltjane said...

We were really outdoor kids. Lived on the bay with surrounding bushland. We did some dare devil activities growing up and now I let my children climb and explore to develop their fine and gross motor skills. Yes, there will be the few accidents but not serious ones. I think while protecting our children from the real harms, we need to show them that they can conquer that tree, climb that rock, hold that lizard and know the fine line between fun and danger.

Chookyblue...... said...

my kids were climbing trees the other day and I was thinking the same thing.............mine definitely aren't cotton wool long as they go off together and I know roughly where they are going I don't worry too much as I know they will have fun but not get into mischief except for the day they took my camera and lost it while running after some kangaroos........

I think yours aren't either it's more the ones that never play outside constantly inside on TV, IPOD and computers etc..........(which is what mine are doing today but one is sick)

I remember we used to have a huge wonderful mulberry tree in the backyard......very old...........I used to climb up in it for hours if I wanted to hide from the family............always a hit in summer too with the mulberries to eat and they were so good............

Lynne said...

I didn't climb trees either but I was not a "cotton wool" kid. I was scared of heights so it didn't rank as a fun activity - even our 1.8m slippery dip was scary for me!

Lee Ann L. said...

I climbed trees when I was a kid and enjoyed it so much. I do believe some kids love running around and climbing trees while others don't.

I do believe the times have changed though. Today, you do not see children running around having a blast around their neighborhood. It is what it is.

Jess @ Scrappy n Happy said...

I grew up exploring our farm and climbing big old fig trees and mulberry trees! We now live on 10 acres of bush so my boys are always outside exploring and scrambling around.
I think these days a lot of kids don't have the opportunity to climb trees. Most live on tiny house blocks and I'm pretty sure the local council wouldn't want loads of kids trampling their gardens trying to climb the trees!

RobynLouise said...

I wasn't much of a tree climber as I was afraid of heights. On the other hand I thought nothing of cantering my horse over country that would have frightened the Man from Snowy River and hanging off said horse's tail when we swam in the Hawkesbury River, not to mention racing the train out near Vineyard NSW!
Mum always said I was the one who gave her the grey hairs and I have 2 brothers!!
What goes around comes around as my youngest is the same.... and she climbs trees too :O.

Quilt Kitty said...

I loved tree climbing & being a kid in NZ we spent the majority of play time outside. Now I am a Aussie working for Playgroup WA, the governing body for parent run & supported playgroup in WA. The Dept. of Sport & Rec are currently funding programs called Natureplay to encourage parents to introduce toddlers to outdoor play involving nature, trees, dirt, natural craft and play items etc just like us previous generations thought of as normal. These make for fun workshops for parents & toddlers! Tracee xx

Liz said...

As I tell my kids.During school hols we were outside from dawn to dusk.Allowed inside when we were hungry or could not find someone else's mum to feed us. Breaks my heart today to hear kids say they don't want to play as they are on their computers.

Linda said...

I loved climbing trees as a child and often climbed them with my sons when they were growing up! I would climb one today with a grandchild if they had a tree big enough to climb! I think there are fewer opportunities today for kids to climb trees. There are fewer trees, for that matter! At least trees big enough to climb. We also tend to prune our trees now so that the limbs don't hang down like they used to. I can remember my sister and I climbing a tree that grew beside my grandmother's garage and sitting on the roof. We felt so "big" because we could see so far.

Susie said...

definitely but we have ourselves to blame. I believe I held my first child back from adventure, being so protective. Now with my third she was climbing Grade 6 climbing/playground equipment at two. (cause I was too busy talking and not watching her and worrying). Once I watch my two yr old on this equipment I start to panic and my heart races. I'm better off letting her go. Consequently she is more co-ordinated for her age than my elder child was. My almost 12mth old is climbing anything - he will probably be climbing trees soon! (have heard some terrible stories though of kids falling from trees, brain damage etc. Not just broken limbs.........). Susie