Safety v. Risk Taking on the Playground

I came across an article in the New York Times that was questioning if today’s playgrounds were too safe.  In his article, “Today’s playgrounds may be too safe, critics warn,” John Tierney writes safer “playgrounds may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone.”  What he is referring to is the fact that no longer are there playgrounds from our youth, with asphalt underneath, 10 ft monkey bars and platforms with no walls.  Because of CPSC guidelines, playgrounds are required certain fall depths and surfaces based upon the height of the playground, which is also regulated.

Some psychologists fear that with limited and risk free playgrounds, children are not learning to conquer their fears or participate in risky play which “mirrors effective cognitive behavioral therapy of anxiety.”  Researchers are especially worried about the older children.  With equipment designed to keep the youngest of children safe, it proposes no challenge to older children who will eventually stop using it all together.

The Adventurous Child has a solution: different playgrounds for different age groups.  A child 6 months to 6 years of age needs’ for gross motor skill development and social/cognitive development are much different from children in the 6-12 years of age group.  A preschool playground needs to have different heights and activities than those larger platforms and monkey bars on a playground suited for older children.

See what we’re talking about on our Toddler Climbers page and our Preschool Climbers page.