Children want – and need – some risk in their play. Remember jumping off higher and higher steps? Swinging round with a friend until you fell over? Climbing trees? Balancing along high walls? Play fighting?

This kind of play helps children become emotionally and physically resilient. It helps them learn to respond flexibly to difficult or changing situations in life. Rather than putting them in danger, it raises their confidence and develops their brain’s potential to deal with whatever life throws at them. This resilience and flexibility will have lifelong benefits, and can actually keep them safer in the long run.

Ways to support your child’s need for 'risky play'

Question and confront the ‘conker banning’ culture

Is it really necessary?

Remember that accidents happen

It is impossible to make your child totally safe – and accidents can sometimes teach children how to take care of themselves.

Let your child make their own judgments

Let them decide whether they are capable of doing something, or whether they are safe. Trust their judgment unless the consequences may be life-threatening.

Think before saying no

Your child will seek out challenging activities because they need to. You need to use your judgment and weigh up whether it is crucial to say no – or whether you are saying no out of habit.

Take a common-sense approach

You can harm your child by being overcautious, or making them scared of situations or people. They need to know how to keep themselves safe, but they need to develop the confidence to make their own way in the world, too.

Weigh up whether the benefit of challenging or scary play is greater than the potential for harm

Challenging play can be good for your child, so think about how likely they are to be hurt – and use this to help you decide what to do or say.

Remember that your child is (statistically) at greater risk within your own home 

Statistics about accidents show that children are more likely to be injured in their home than outside in the playground or the woods. It is worth bearing this in mind.