Children’s perception of action boundaries and how it affects their climbing behavior

Document Type

Journal Article


Elsevier Ltd


Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research / School of Medical and Health Sciences


Originally published as:

Croft, J. L., Pepping, G. J., Button, C., & Chow, J. Y. (2018). Children’s perception of action boundaries and how it affects their climbing behavior. Journal of experimental child psychology, 166, 134-146. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2017.07.012

Original article available here.


There are some concerns that children today may be less calibrated to their action capabilities because of the “risk-free” culture that has proliferated during recent decades. This study investigated the extent to which judgments of reaching affordances presented in different directions (i.e., overhead, diagonal, and horizontal) are related to children’s climbing behavior on a climbing wall. A sample of 30 schoolchildren from 6 to 11 years old (20 boys and 10 girls) estimated maximum reach and grasp distances and subsequently attempted to climb across an indoor climbing wall. Children who perceived the extents of their reach more accurately completed the climb more often and more quickly. Judgments in the primary directions of climbing locomotion (horizontal and diagonal) were better predictors of success than vertical judgments. Judgments about whether objects are reachable and graspable are complex and influenced by various dynamic factors (including perceptual–motor calibration), and as such different levels of accuracy are likely in different reaching directions. It appears that young children are relatively sensitive to their action boundaries for climbing and, therefore, may be able to make informed decisions themselves about whether a surface is climbable.