Do Our Kids Need Risky Play? Yes they do!

Because sometimes, skinned knees and muddy fingernails are the best teachers

As parents, we’re always looking for ways to protect our kids from getting hurt. Now, this may come as a surprise and sound counterintuitive, but what you intend as good for your child, may actually be more harmful. When you say things like, “you might fall!”, did you know that he’s hearing “you’re not capable, the world is dangerous, you need my help to figure out how to navigate this world” — yikes! And this, is exactly why kids need risky play.

What was your childhood like?

Looking back at our own childhoods, our fondest memories are probably playing outdoors (without adult supervision, of course), coming home smelling like the sun and reeking of sweat. Sometimes, we’d come home with a new cut or bruise — but we’d have fun all the same. Today, child psychologists call it risky play.

What is risky play for kids?

Risky play is when kids try exciting new things and not know the outcome. It lets them test their limits and discover what they’re comfortable with. Climbing and jumping, running and sliding, playing in water, getting lost, rough and tumble and play wrestling, all these are examples of risky play. But here’s the thing — risky play involves the risk of getting hurt.

Why risky play is good for kids

Risky play allows kids to work on their motor skills, balance and coordination. It lets them overcome their fears and say “no” or “stop” when play gets too rough for them. They learn to become comfortable with falling down or slipping by adjusting their technique and finding different ways of doing things. Most importantly, it teaches them the importance of taking chances, so that when things don’t work out, they don’t give up easily.

There’s no doubt that kids nowadays could benefit immensely from risky play. They’ll learn skills like creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, resilience and emotional intelligence— lessons that they’ll need to learn to be future-ready.

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