Risky Play

Urban living, extended screen time and reduced physical activity are factors contributing to fewer green space play opportunities for children. Recent studies find that there is a danger in overprotecting young ones, which can outweigh the possible risk of a sprained ankle or a couple of scrapes on the knee. Essentially, there is a risk to not taking risks.  

How can we ensure that our children are taking the risks
that are needed for healthy development?

Below are items identified in an article published by Peter Gray in Psychology Today [1].

  1. Great Heights: Children climb trees and other structures to scary heights where they gain a birds-eye view of the world and the thrilling feeling of “I did it!”
  2. Rapid Speeds: Children swing on vines, ropes, or playground swings, propel down slides, shoot down rapids on logs/boats and ride bikes fast enough to produce the thrill of almost but not quite losing control.
  3. Rough and Tumble: Children everywhere chase one another and fight playfully. They typically prefer being in the most vulnerable position—the one being chased or the one underneath in wrestling–the position that involves the most risk of being hurt and requires the most skill to overcome.
  4. Disappearing/Getting Lost: Little children play hide and seek and experience the thrill of temporary, scary separation from their companions. Older ones venture off – on their own and away from adults – into territories that to them are new and filled with imagined dangers including the danger of getting lost.

Habitat Systems can work with you to create a play space place that encourages an appropriate amount of risky play while ensuring CSA compliance. Contact us today and learn more.

“If we remove the element of risk from playgrounds, children naturally seek it out elsewhere, or adapt the space and their behaviour within it to make it more challenging.” [2]


Risky play resources:

Risky Play and Children’s Safety: Balancing Priorities for Optimal Child Development

Roughhousing and Climbing Trees: Some Risks May Be Good for Kids

Rethinking Childhood 

The Importance of Risky Play


In the News:

Vancouver Municipality Considers Adding More Risky to Playgrounds

UBC Prof Pleased to See Cities Add Risk to Playgrounds

Playgrounds and Risky Play

Learn more about the benefits of risky play.

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