Play Ideas

Benefits of Risky Play: Why Risky Play is Important to Your Child’s Development

October 11, 2022
Preschool kids play with building bricks in while sitting on floor in daycare

“Children are competent, capable of complex thinking, curious, and rich in potential.”

– Ontario Ministry of Education, How Does Learning Happen? 

It can be difficult for a lot of us to allow risky play to happen. The instinct of most parents is to eliminate risk in order to protect our children. But risk doesn’t have to equal danger. In fact, there are many benefits of risky play!

Risky play—that is, play that incorporates safe risks relative to a child’s age, size, motor skills, and comfort level—is important to a child’s development.

A mom helps her preschool aged child use a screwdriver. Using tools is an example of risky play.

Benefits of Risky Play

Emotional Regulation

Children who take safe risks learn that they can manage their fear, overcome it, and come out the other side.

Emotional regulation is an important skill that can help children to think before they act on a feeling. Some ways you may see this is when your child calms themselves down, cheers themselves up when something doesn’t go their way, or stops a meltdown before it begins.

Risky play provides the foundation needed to regulate emotional responses like fear, nervousness, or anger in adulthood. 

Adaptability

There are times in life when we all need to move out of our comfort zone and try something new. Children who engage in risky play develop skills to handle the feelings of nervousness and fear that can come with trying new things.

This knowledge gives them the skills they need to adapt to new situations and explore new environments—skills that become even more important when they go to school.

Self-Confidence

When a child tries something risky, they gain the confidence to say “I can do this!” and try more things on their own. Children who engage in risky play are more likely to take chances where there is a chance of failure. Even if they fall, they know they can get back up and try again.

Physical Literacy

Physical literacy means having the skills, confidence, and love of movement needed to be active and healthy for their whole lives.

Risky play activities that are part of a child’s active play—running, climbing, or balancing—help to make them more physically literate. Children who engage in active risky play develop their large muscle skills, begin to understand how their bodies move, and learn how fun active play can be!

Types of Risky Play

There are six types of risky play. They include playing:

  1. At great heights (such as on a step stool)
  2. At a high speed (such as running)
  3. With dangerous tools (such as a hammer)
  4. Near dangerous elements (such as water)
  5. With rough-and-tumble interaction (such as play wrestling)
  6. Where children can “disappear” or get lost (such as hide-and-seek in the backyard)

Is risky play worth the “risk”?

Risky play is not about doing something dangerous, but about moving past uncertainty to try something exciting. Risky play is different for every child, depending on their age and comfort level. For example, risky play for a toddler might mean balancing on one foot on the ground, while risky play for a preschool age child might be climbing up on step stool to reach for a toy.

Children know their limits; they will not intentionally put themselves in harm’s way. Try adding safe risks to your child’s play time and watch as they play and learn!

Recent News

What’s On This Week – April 14-20

Special Events Many BridgeWay Centres hold special events throughout the year; check your centre's schedule to see what's coming up! If there is an event or holiday that you would like to celebrate, please talk to the staff at your centre. BridgeWay's Birthday!...

What’s On This Week – April 7-13

Journey Together Join BridgeWay and The Indigenous Network for Journey Together,  where families and children can experience and participate in Indigenous activities while building their awareness of Indigenous culture. Heart LakeTuesday, April 911:30am-12:15pm...

Solar Eclipse FAQ and Safety Precautions

Peel Region will witness a partial solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, 2024. The solar eclipse event in Peel Region will last a few hours beginning just prior to 2:00pm and concluding around 4:30pm. The documents below have been prepared for EarlyON and Childcare...

What’s On This Week – March 31-April 6

Dim the Lights You and your child can explore the centre with reduced sensory stimulation during Dim the Lights. In this program, we keep the centre as quiet as possible by playing calming music (or no music at all), removing loud toys, and singing softly during...

Now Accepting Board Members!

The Board is currently looking for candidates for Associate and Director positions who are community-minded and are looking for a way to serve families in Mississauga & Brampton. Become a Board member to make a difference in the lives of families in the Region of...

Play Ideas

LGBTQ2S+ Books for Children Birth to 6 Years

We’ve put together a list of books celebrating LGBTQ2S+ children and families! These books are perfect for children with queer parents/caregivers to see families like theirs, for children to see themselves and their peers, and for everyone to learn about and celebrate...

Creative Ways to Build Ramps

Ramps are a fun and interactive tool for children to explore math and science concepts. When they roll a toy down a ramp, they're learning to make predictions and problem solve while also learning about concepts like motion, speed, and cause and effect. There are fun...