The Benefits of Risk Taking

The term “risk” often has a negative connotation. In fact, Oxford Dictionary defines “risk” as “a situation involving exposure to danger”. We’re here to change this thinking!

Risk during play is inevitable. Even the calmest activity – let’s say reading in a blanket fort – can come with risks. What happens if your toddler rolls over onto a sheet pulling a chair down with him? Yikes! These uncertainties may seem scary, but risks truly are beneficial to growth.

  • Assessment and Management – Engaging in “risky” play allows young children the opportunity to assess a situation and choose how they will manage said situation. Assessment and management are key foundations to understanding cause and effect.
  • Learning New Skills – Taking risks leads to learning new skills, like walking, running, climbing, or riding a bike. The excitement and thrill that come with mastering something new helps bolster self-esteem, too!
  • Body Awareness and Coordination - Both fine and gross motor skills are developed through tackling risks. Swinging, climbing, rolling, sliding! All of these movements help children become more body aware and develop strong muscles.
  • Success and Failure – This can be a tough lesson to learn! Learning to pick yourself back up is hugely important for real world situations, and learning it at a young age will help provide the confidence and motivation to admit mistakes and redirect your course.

It’s important to remember that there are risks and there are hazards, two very different things. Risk implies that things could go wrong, but given caution and supervision, they likely will not. A hazard implies danger. For example, diving into shallow water that is marked by a sign is a hazard – even if someone is nearby watching you, you’re putting yourself in danger. Here at LEAP, we will never provide hazardous activities. We put a lot of thought and care into developing our activities and making sure they are child-friendly. Risks, however, we love! Risk is intended to provide choice and, under the watchful eye of adults, can be extremely rewarding. Our favorite risk: the climber! We often see tiny toddlers entering the climber for the first time, wide-eyed and nervous. There might be tears, there might be skinned knees, and there will hopefully be success.

We pride ourselves on offering choice to our LEAPers. Have you experienced any recent risks with your little one(s)? Were they successes or failures?

Written by Nicole Filippone