Playgrounds were once described as “an administrators heaven and a child’s hell” by Marjory Allen, creator of adventure-style playgrounds that encouraged children to dig, build, and invent by themselves in more freeform spaces. 

The modern uniform structure of playgrounds may lead children to take more risks in a false sense of security – hanging off the swing bars, jumping from the slides, etc. Modern playgrounds are missing the crucial element of risky play that has a multitude of benefits.

The chance to succeed or fail  

We can’t always win in life, there are times we fail. What matters is picking ourselves up and trying again, children can learn this by failing to climb a log, feeling frustrated, and giving it another go – working through a fear of failure. 

Mental resilience

Managing your own risks develops confidence in your own abilities that translates to better mental health in the future. Risky play is not a cure-all, but can help bring overly anxious children out of their shells and make them feel more in control. 

Risky =/= Dangerous 

Of course, you don’t want to put them in any real danger, and we are not encouraging that either.  The key is to understand controlled risk-taking. Tree climbing is risky, but the likelihood of serious harm if your child climbs to your shoulder height mitigates this risk and brings down the likelihood for harm as you can reach out and assist.  

For toddlers and young children, climbing small heights like a large rock or climbing over a fallen tree is a suitable risk. Hide and seek in a small wood with a younger child gives the feeling of the possibility of getting lost, these are not actually dangerous activities but give the child the same feeling as a risky activity. 

Are you up for the challenge? Let our new printable activity guides inspire you.

Week 3 is a tasty recipe that lets your child experience something “risky” in a safe way. 

Click here to Download 

This post is part of our larger toddler and nature series. Please stay tuned for more and check out our Welly Waddlers Workshops, where you can see the benefits of hands-on nature-play first hand with your little one.

To find out more or to enquire please contact us at [email protected] or on 063 91300.

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