Risky Play & Skinned Knees


We’ve all had that conversation.  You know the one.  It goes something like this…

“Hey, do you remember what the playground was like when we were kids?”

“Yeah, those metal monkey bar sets and metal slides?”

“Ya…ya…ya… those metal slides!  The ones that got so hot in it would scald our legs?”

“They don’t make ’em like the used to!”


Ok… so as a parent, I quite enjoy the fact that at most parks my boys can slide down weather resistant plastic polymer slides as much as they like without having scalded legs.  And I really appreciate the safe-proofing at the parks, especially when my toddler feel from a ladder and bounced off the rubberized surface and went back to playing without missing a beat.  However, I read this fascinating article recently that made me recall my younger days of play and how different it truly is now.

The article posted for the Toronto Star reviewed how our conscientiousness for playground safety, and even for the way our kids play, may be holding them back from healthy development.  Read the full article here: RISKY PLAY AND SKINNED KNEES ARE KEY TO HEALTHY CHILD DEVELOPMENT.

The article made some very good points.  Although we want to protect our kids from injury and danger, it’s true that kids get to develop a sense of confidence, enjoyment of activity, coping mechanisms and skills when they are able to climb, run, race, wrestle, balance and jump.  It’s good to note that the proponents of this perspective still underscore the importance of safety and making an experience “as safe as necessary” without compromising a child’s ability to explore.

I think back to my own fond memories of when I was a youngster and playing at the park on the rickety metal playground equipment.  I also realize that my love of nature was cultivated at a very early age when I spent time with my sister and my friends exploring the woods by my home.

This is a great topic and I’d love to hear your comments!  Post them in the comments section and let me know what you think about modern day child play.  Better safe than sorry?  …Or… Risky Play is the way? …Somewhere in the middle?



  1. leanne · August 13, 2014

    There are some great pieces out there on the issue of Physical Literacy – teaching our children how to play again. That through, what may appear to be, an over cautious approach we have lost the art of play and the benefits that go with it for example developing hand eye coordination, balance and the like. It is through the initiative of physical literacy that several organizations are trying to enhance that development and also assist in combating the concerns of childhood obesity.

    • Dr. Laura Imola, BSc, ND (Licensed) · August 13, 2014

      Hi Leanne,

      Your comment is fantastic. I didn’t know about Physical Literacy was an ongoing initiative, but it makes sense. It’s so important for development and to prevent obesity. What seems like “risky play” truly provides so much for kids…like what you have mentioned: balance, coordination, confidence, fitness.

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