Some parents anxiously hover over their children on the playground, fearing they might slip and fall.
But letting your kids take risks while playing can have a positive influence on the amount of exercise they get, a study suggests.
Researchers explored the link between parents’ attitudes toward risk and injury, and their children’s adventurous and moderate-to-vigorous daily physical activity (MVPA).
This included activities such as climbing on top of a frame, riding a bike or scooter very fast, and “rough” games.
Some parents anxiously hover over their children on the playground, fearing they might slip and fall. But letting your kids take risks while playing can have a positive influence on how much exercise they get, study suggests
A total of 645 parents completed an online survey to reveal their attitudes towards risk and injury, and the physical activity and play behavior of their children aged five to 12.
The analysis revealed that 78 percent of parents had a low risk tolerance, with mothers showing more concern about injuries than fathers.
However, children whose parents were more tolerant of risky play were more likely to meet the guideline of more than 60 minutes of activity per day and were more likely to play adventurously.
They also found that while most parents were positive about the benefits of risky play, they were less willing to let their children participate when presented with a series of risky play scenarios.
Lead author Alethea Jerebine, from Coventry University, said: “It is understandable that parents want to protect their children.
But the balance can tip too far.
“This study shows that parents with a relaxed attitude toward risky play have children who are more likely to get the recommended amount of daily exercise.
“Adventure play can help improve a child’s physical fitness, cognitive function and mental well-being, and it’s more fun too.”
Writing in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, the team added: “Parents need support in providing opportunities for their children to engage in risky play because this play has the potential to improve (physical activity), as well as other known benefits.
‘Interventions should provide tangible ways for parents, especially mothers, to balance concerns about injuries with a desire to foster their children’s confidence, independence, resilience, and risk management skills.
“Addressing these issues in other childhood settings, such as schools, may also be beneficial and reinforce positive social attitudes towards adventure play.”