Risky Play – Worth the Risk?
Leah Yardley BSc. Kin., CSEP-CEP
University of Calgary, Be Fit For Life Centre
We live in a society where “hyper-parenting” or “helicopter parenting” is becoming more prevalent. This style of parenting is seen as a way to protect children and lower their risk of injury and other incidents… but what if we are actually hindering their development and increasing their risk of injury and disease as they age?
Let me be clear, we need to continue to love and protect our children but we also need to give them some space and allow them to take age appropriate risks while engaged in active outdoor play. This means allowing children to run (fast), climb (high), play (rough) and explore (alone). Children are actually pretty good judges of what their bodies can and cannot physically do and letting them create these boundaries for themselves rather than us adults creating them based on our own fear, will teach them how to recognize, evaluate and manage risk as they grow and develop – a skill set that will prove invaluable as they navigate their way through life. Risky play is essential to healthy child development and helps develop physical literacy too – both which lead to longer, healthier and happier lives.
As an adult, you need to decide what is age appropriate risk for your child(ren), for example, you wouldn’t let your 2 year old play outside alone, but you could let them crawl up on a log if they are inclined to. Once you have decided on this, your next step is… well… backwards! Step back and let your child(ren) explore their environment and interact with it with their bodies. Expect some bumps and bruises along the way, it’s all part of the process and is worth the risk for long term health!
Submitted November 6, 2017 by Kayla Repas, Dip Exs Sci, CSEP – Certified Personal Trainer