In our quest to protect our children, it's easy to fall into the habit of constantly saying, "Be careful!"
Yet, what if we reframed our perspective and allowed our little ones the freedom to explore, experiment, and yes, take risks? As a child my favourite thing to do was climb trees, make dens and play "war" with our neighbours... All risky play! As a child I was confident, self aware and conscious of how my body moved and it's abilities in certain environments.
(Click on the image below to be directed to my YouTube video where I talk further on Risky Play)
This concept, known as "risky play," is gaining momentum among parents and educators for it's profound impact on a child's physical, emotional and cognitive development.
1. Building Confidence Through Trial and Error: Risky play involves activities that challenge children, both physically and mentally. Climbing trees, balancing on logs or even playing with slightly sharp tools under supervision, are all examples of risky play. By engaging in these activities, children learn about their own limitations and capabilities. They develop resilience, boost their self-confidence and foster a deep sense of achievement when they successfully navigate challenges.
2. Enhancing Bodily Awareness, Balance, and Coordination: When children engage in risky play, they refine their motor skills, balance, and coordination. Climbing, jumping, and exploring uneven terrains help them understand their bodies better. They learn how to move, balance and adjust their actions based on the situation, enhancing their spatial awareness and physical prowess.
3. Encouraging Problem-Solving Skills: Risky play often involves situations where children must assess risks and make decisions. By facing these challenges, they develop critical problem-solving skills. They learn to analyse situations, make decisions and adapt their actions, fostering a strong sense of autonomy and self-reliance.
4. Fostering Trust in Their Abilities: Constantly hovering and urging children to "be careful" can inadvertently communicate a lack of trust in their abilities. Allowing them to engage in risky play sends a powerful message: we trust you. This trust forms the cornerstone of a child's self-esteem. When they know their parents believe in their capabilities, they are more likely to embrace challenges, both in childhood and later in life.
5. Embracing the Joy of Childhood: Remember the sheer joy of climbing a tree or conquering a challenging playground structure? By allowing our children to engage in risky play, we gift them these precious moments of unbridled happiness. The laughter, the determination and the triumphant shouts become memories that shape their childhood and imbue them with a sense of adventure.
In conclusion, risky play is not about encouraging recklessness; it's about providing opportunities for calculated risks. It's about letting children explore, stumble and rise stronger. So, let's step back, take a deep breath and allow our children the freedom to play, explore and yes, take risks. In doing so, we equip them not just with physical skills but with resilience, confidence and a love for challenges that will serve them well throughout their lives. Let's let our children play freely and trust in their amazing abilities to learn, grow and thrive.