The Necessary Risk of Playtime

By Jessica Franklin
young boy jumping on a trampoline

Recently I shared my plans to get my son a trampoline for his birthday. A well-meaning friend contacted me to express her concern, informing me that recent recommendations are that trampolines should only be used in a controlled athletic setting and not for recreation. While I appreciated her concern, I had to laugh. The experts are, yet again, worried about our children getting hurt while they go about the business of being children. Modern trampolines, with their enclosures and padding, are perfectly safe when the children using them are supervised and taught proper use. As is the case with any play equipment.

This got me thinking about the recent trend in restrictions for children in their play. During college, I student-taught in a second-grade classroom. These 7- and 8-year-olds were not allowed to have recess on the playground because they might fall and get hurt. At a park in my home town, the list of rules includes “No Running.” No running at a park?!

Children need to play, folks. They need to take risks and sometimes they even need to get hurt, because that is part of how they develop physical skills and learn problem solving strategies. It is also how they burn off their seemingly unlimited supply of energy so their little brains are able to focus on school and comply with behavioral expectations.

Now I am not saying we should let our little ones run wild; they need reasonable boundaries, of course. But if we try to shield them from every scrape and bruise, we will have to put them in bubble wrap! Honestly, you can trip off a curb and break your wrist, but it would be absurd to suggest we ban children from WALKING. Unfortunately, though, we are not far from that. And it is hurting our kids more in the long run than a scraped knee ever could.

For goodness’ sake, PLEASE let your children run and jump and climb, and sometimes fall. It is part of being a kid!


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