Risky Play: A Dad Shares 6 Activities He Thinks Kids Should Be Allowed to Do (But What Do You Think?) by Mike Prochaska

Opinion Fun With Dad
2 years ago

Risky Play: A Dad Shares 6 Activities He Thinks Kids Should Be Allowed to Do (But What Do You Think?)

“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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Elisa Schmitz
As always, a great conversation stRter, Mike Prochaska ! One of my favorite things to do as a child was climb trees. So happy I passed that passion down to my kids!
Lemi-Ola Erinkitola
Regarding "dangerous tools" research shows that boys play with spatial toys more than girls and spatial skills strongly predict who will pursue STEM related fields like engineering, radiology and cybersecurity. Let's close the gender gap by encouraging more young girls to engage in spatially rich activities using hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, saws and other tools.
Mike Prochaska
I couldn’t agree more with this comment.
Elisa Schmitz
Love that, Lemi-Ola Erinkitola ! I hope you will share some of your insights as posts on 30Seconds.com! Welcome.
Brian Mackenzie
studies [1] also show that if girls are not given pointless 'girl toys' like dolls and play tea party sets, they will just do it automatically.

Parents don't need to encourage their children, they simply need to stop holding them back :D

WHAT???? Dolls are pointless, one might exclaim? They are when you consider a lego minifigure teaches anything a doll can :)

[1] my studies :D
Mike Prochaska
Dolls aren’t pointless they teach boys and girls to be good parents but I do see where you are coming from.
Elisa Schmitz
I love your points of view, Brian Mackenzie and Mike Prochaska ! I think different types of play are key for boys and girls alike - dolls and LEGOS for all, lol! 😀
Teacher Karen
I got to play with 'dangerous tools' as a kid and help my Dad build...I DID go into engineering first...but then education and DO teach girls and boys to try ALL activities
Brian Mackenzie
lol, no they don't ;) (they are sold to parents that way though, and many believe it) #wasteOfTimeIfYouThinkAboutIt
Brian Mackenzie
ha ha, it's Big Doll propaganda :D
Bill James
I hate that the benefits of risky play have to be explained to some parents and some staff, who mistakenly believe that our role is to minimise ALL risk in and out of the clsssroom (many teaching assistants have been taught this and are STILL taught this as part of their training - sometimes putting them in direct conflict with the teacher). We have to promote a measure of risky play and risky environments, while avoiding reckless play and dangerous environments.
Bill James
Schools and education departments need to be clearer in this area too, as it can sometimes appear that risky play is encouraged (through the curriculum and other documents), but that if something goes wrong, it's on the teacher's head. I'm fortunate that this comment does not apply to my own employer.
Kristan Wager
I might be old, but my childhood was filled with risky play because that was normal. (Well, not playing with fire, perhaps) We rode bikes like crazy fiends, skateboarded, greased the slides with wax paper and built tree houses. What has childhood come to that we have to explain all this? In my world it makes me the renegade parent, so sad.
Mike Prochaska
Timmy climbed to top of the swings at the park today! I was so Impressed he made it all the way to the top I had to take his picture up there!

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