Why kids need risk, fear and excitement in play

Why kids need risk, fear and excitement in play

“Be careful!” “Not so high!” “Stop that!”

Posted on 15.09.2017

Concerned parents can often be heard urging safety when children are at play. Recent research suggests this may be over-protective and that kids need more opportunities for risky play outdoors.

Risky play is thrilling and exciting play where children test their boundaries and flirt with uncertainty. They climb trees, build forts, roam the neighbourhood with friends or play capture the flag. Research shows such play is associated with increased physical activity, social skills, risk management skills, resilience and self-confidence. These findings make intuitive sense when you watch children at play.

Importantly, it’s not up to parents or experts to decide what is risky play for a particular child.

Rather, children need to be given the mental and physical space to figure out appropriate risk levels for themselves: far enough that it feels exhilarating, but not so far that it becomes too scary.

My years as an injury prevention researcher have left me well aware of things that can go wrong and how to prevent them from happening. But because I have a doctorate in developmental psychology, I am also concerned that we are keeping our kids too safe. Preventing our kids from exploring uncertainty could have unintended negative consequences for their health and development, such as increased sedentary behaviouranxiety and phobias.

 

Parents’ hopes and fears

Many of the parents I’ve spoken to through my research recognize the importance of risky play, but can be overwhelmed by worry about the possibility of serious injury or abduction. They also worry that someone is going to report them to the authorities for letting their child take risks. These worries make it hard for them to let go and can result in over-protection.

More recently, I’ve noticed an opposite trend: parents who are worried their child is too timid and not taking enough risks. They want to know how they can help their child take more risks in play.

 

Source
The Conversation

Other stories about kids and risk: Related Articles and Children & Young People

 

Share

FacebookTwitter

Have a story to tell or news to share?

Let us know by Submitting a News Story

Discover Queensland

Explore all of Queensland’s adventures.

Start Exploring

What's On

Jul

24

Canoe Leader Training Course

Is it time to get recognised qualifications for your outdoor recreation skills?
Read more

Jul

26

Scenic Rim Trail Running Series Rd 3

RUN THE RIM: Scenic Rim Trail Running Series 2020

Read more

Jul

31

Top Rope Climbing Leader Course

Is it time to get recognised qualifications for your outdoor recreation skills?
Read more

Latest News

Queensland National Parks UPDATE

Camping and vehicle access

Read more
$150 Fair Play Vouchers Open

Helping Queensland kids return to the playing fields

Read more
COVID impacted families to get back into sport

Fresh round of $150 Fair Play vouchers now available

Read more

Become a member

We welcome applications for new Community and Green Circle Members from organisations and individuals involved in the outdoors

Learn More
Tail Lights by Georgina Pratten