The Magic of Risky Play
By the time there have been 21 previous posts on ways to make childhood magical like imaginative play, singing, science fun, sharing books, connecting with nature, blanket forts, and others, it’s probably time to include some comments on risky play.
As parents and caregivers, we want to keep our kids safe and unhurt and this kind of play does need supervision and limits. But we also know children who are never allowed to do anything risky and can understand that childhood for them isn’t a lot of fun. Finding a middle ground between appropriate limits on kids and acceptable freedom is a real challenge.
Risk is part of children’s development and just like other life lessons, kids need time and opportunities to find a balance between safety and uncertainty. The first time a child tries a slide, parents usually hold on until the little one can sit and slide independently and then move to the catch position at the bottom of the slide. Kids will soon either want the adult to move away or will check that the adults stay close. Part of our responsibility as parents and caregivers is knowing when to stay close and when to let kids try on their own.
Children have their own comfort zones and tolerance levels when it comes to taking risks. Is your child impulsive and needs firm guidelines or hesitant and needs encouraging? As your child plays how do you as the adult tend to react? One of the problems could be that we remember some of our childhood risky play. I loved to climb trees, the higher the better. Plus, adults do not necessarily agree about risk for themselves. I think my friend who goes sky diving takes unnecessary risks and she things the same about my scuba diving.
What are your thoughts on young children and risky play?
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