Risk taking during play: ecological influences and behavioral outcomes of young children’s appraisal of risks in outdoor spaces

Anne Karabon, Amanda Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Adults often deem uncomfortable and dangerous play as ‘risky' or ‘rough play', yet difficult play encounters can be the context in which children learn and develop physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively. Children repeatedly experience play situations in outdoor spaces that challenge them to appraise their capabilities. We examined children's decisions to take risks in an outdoor space intentionally designed for free exploration and play, and the influences present in their appraisals. While risk taking play is most prominently influenced by immediate contexts, such as the self and caregivers, we found that broader factors, such as familiarity with the surroundings, social configurations, and cultural beliefs on risk, have significant impact as well. As a result, we suggest increased opportunities for children to engage in taking risks in play, freedom to determine their own capabilities, and awareness of cultural, familial, and social impacts on children’s behaviors, practices, or beliefs about taking risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-330
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Play
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020

Keywords

  • Risk taking
  • appraisal
  • outdoor play spaces
  • qualitative research
  • social ecological model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology

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