Risky Play: A Dad Shares 6 Activities He Thinks Kids Should Be Allowed to Do (But What Do You Think?) by Mike Prochaska
“Don’t do that! You could get hurt!” I have heard this said to kids at the park or playground. I have even once or twice seen a parent try to say it to my children and I always have to remind other parents it’s OK, because I believe risky play is important for children’s development.
Risky play is thrilling, exciting play where children test their boundaries and how far they are willing to go. Risky play can be defined as a thrilling and exciting activity that involves a risk of physical injury, and play that provides opportunities for challenge, testing limits, exploring boundaries and learning about injury risk. Activities such as climbing, sliding, balancing, jumping from heights and hanging upside down can be considered as risky. It’s important that parents know the importance of risky play. Parents need to stop saying no. Here are six types of risky play:
1. Great heights. Children climb trees and other structures to scary heights, from which they gain a bird's-eye view of the world and the thrilling feeling of “I did it!” There’s no better feeling than when you have climbed to the top. Do you remember that feeling?
2. Dangerous tools. Let kids play with hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, saws and other tools. Of course, adult supervision is needed, but there is a certain thrill we all get from using power tools.
3. Dangerous elements. Children love to play with fire (supervised, of course). I’ve read about how you should let your children learn about the dangers of fire by letting them experience it firsthand.
4. Disappearing/getting lost. Kids love to play hide-and-seek and experience the thrill of a temporary separation from their friends or parents.
5. Roughhousing, tumbling and wrestling are important for children’s development.
6. Rapid speeds. Children swing on vines, ropes or playground swings fast enough to produce the thrill of almost – but not quite – losing control. We love to do this by taking our bikes to the skate park and riding down the hills. My kids get such a rush. Another place they do this is on merry-go-rounds.
In my opinion, kids need to be given the space to figure out appropriate risk levels for themselves – without someone always telling them to not do that. Life is too short not to take some risks.
Editor's note: Kids should be supervised at all times. Each child is unique, so use common sense and your own discretion when considering the types of age-appropriate activities your child participates in. Only you know your child and what makes sense for him or her to try. Safety first! As always, this information is provided for entertainment purposes only. The views expressed in this post are those of the author, and not necessarily those of 30Seconds.
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