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Crossing the Midline

Risky vs Hazardous Play

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY

Daniel Kukec Photography Sydney Spot Therapy Hub Commercial Branding Shoot Randwick

Risky play involves children facing challenges and uncertainties within their environment that they are able to recognise and choose whether or not to engage with. For example, learning to ride a bike or navigating big playground equipment.

Hazardous play involves a danger within the child’s play environment which they may not be able to recognise on their own, and may cause endangerment or harm. For example, climbing on the garage roof or running around a tiled pool area.

Why is risky play important?

For kids, risky play, such as navigating big playground equipment or learning to ride a bike, give kids an opportunity to:

  • Explore their capabilities and learn new skills
  • Assess and make judgements on situations
  • Develop a better understanding of the concept of ‘consequences’
  • Build their coordination and dexterity
  • Boost their confidence and independence

How can I support risky play at home?

  • Set-up the space for your child – make sure to identify any hazards such as sharp corners, choking hazards, access to dangerous areas and either remove these or mark them as ‘out-of-bounds’
  • Allow them to lead the play – make sure they have space to play in freely, and self-direct what is happening within the play.
  • Mess is okay!
  • Provide opportunities for your child to have some unsupervised time playing with other children – for example, if cousins or another play date is over, going to make lunch while the kids continue to play in another room