How to safely introduce young children to risky play

Whether it is in the school playground or the local park, playtime is the perfect way to introduce young children to taking risks. Taking risks during their play enables children to challenge themselves and their abilities, it helps to increase their confidence and gives them a sense of achievement as they discover new skills and abilities. As adults we are often challenging ourselves and taking risks to grow and develop, from taking a promotion to running marathons, where we could fail but if we succeed it helps us to improve our self-confidence and self-esteem; for children their ability to take these same types of risks is through play.

The playground provides many challenges for young children. The slide can seem high and frightening, while the climbing frame is daunting and difficult. Facing these challenges in the playground provides a safe environment for children to take risks without seriously injuring themselves or other children. Here are key ways to safely introduce young children to risky play.

Supervise children at all times

When supervising young children a parent or teacher should be close to the young child so that they know you are there to help them if they need it, but encourage them to take on the challenge themselves without your hands-on support. Encouraging a nervous child to take one step at a time to climb the steps to the top of the slide, all the while standing next to them but without touching them, provides them with comfort and support while also helping to develop their independence. To ensure children are always safe while playing adults need to be within a short distance to quickly rescue the child if they get into serious difficulty or are about to seriously injure themselves.

Ensure the playground is safe

When taking your child to the local park have a quick look around to ensure that the playground is a safe environment for your child. For example, make sure that there is safety surfacing under the play equipment and that the equipment is suitable for the age of your child. You don’t need to do a thorough inspection, but also take a look at the equipment and see if it looks well maintained and safe for children to use. School playgrounds need to be regularly inspected and well maintained, as well as this there are legal regulations parks and schools need to adhere to ensure that the play area is safe for children to use.

Accept minor injuries

By minor injuries we mean a grazed knee or a small bruise and not anything more serious, but it is important to let children take risks where they might get minor injuries so that they learn to accept these and move on. These types of injuries are a natural part of early childhood and young children quickly bounce back from falling over, but it helps them to learn that it’s ok to fail and if they continue to challenge themselves they will eventually succeed. It is also important for adults to be there to pick children up and clean up their wounds so that they can continue playing, taking risks and challenging themselves.

At Fawns we provide a wide range of playground equipment for schools and parks that are designed and installed to help encourage children to take risks while they play but in a safe environment.