A new major research showed that rough and risky outdoor play is not only good for children’s physical health, it also has other positive effects on children psychologically.
“We found that play environments where children could take risks promoted increased play time, social interactions, creativity and resilience,” said lead author Mariana Brussoni, a developmental psychologist and injury prevention researcher at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Risky activities include climbing, jumping from heights, rough and tumble play like wrestling and play-fighting, and exploring alone.
The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, involved analyzing results from 21 previous studies. From there, the researchers found evidence that children who were involved with adventurous types of play were more active, more confident and more psychologically healthy compared to those who were restricted from engaging in risky play.
Children with the space to be free to engage in activities of their own choosing learn about risk and their own limits, said Brussoni.
“You can imagine that, if you get to explore with your own body — what you can do with it and how the world works — that's much more instructive than being told by someone, for example, 'If you fall out of a tree, that's going to hurt,'” Brussoni told Live Science. “You know how far you can push your own body.”
Playgrounds with strict rules and too much supervision have prevented children from engaging in risky play. Safety concerns, such as injury, were the main reasons for limiting such activities, said the study.
“Monitoring children’s activities may be a more appropriate approach than active supervision, particularly for older children,” said Brussoni.
“We recommend considering policy, practice and built environment approaches to risky outdoor play that balance safety with children’s other health outcomes.”
Sources: June 9, 2015. "Risky outdoor play positively impacts children’s health: UBC study". news.ubc.ca June 12, 2015. "Children thrive on risky play: Activities including climbing trees and rough and tumble games help improve their creativity, behaviour and resilience". dailymail.co.uk June 23, 2015. "Roughhousing and Climbing Trees: Some Risks May Be Good for Kids". livescience.com