Safety vs risk in play

Are we too fearful to let our children take risks during play? What are the consequences of being overly protective of our kids?

The increased generational trend to over-protect our children is driven by very valid societal concerns

  •  health and safety standards 
  • perceived increases in stranger danger
  • the threat of harm from others
  • fear of injury
  • fear of litigation

While many of us can remember childhoods characterised by being sent out of the house in the morning and not returning home until the street lights came on, parents today are appalled at the idea of our children even playing in the front yard without adult supervision. Risk in play has become a very delicate balance.

Changes Psychology- Safety vs risk in playTerms such as “cotton wool kids”, and “helicopter parenting” have become common phrases to describe the lengths parents go to to protect their kids from harm.

But have we gone too far?


Research is increasingly finding that children who are deprived of risk opportunities in play have more problems with mental health concerns, obesity, self-confidence, conflict management, decision making skills, social skills, problem solving skills, and resilience, and poorer ability to judge risk vs capabilities, manage emotions, and think independently.

Children both want and need to take risks in play to promote healthy development, explore their limits and discover their capabilities, and learn from their experiences.

Read more: Why some risk in play is good!