Search icon


07th Dec 2021

Musings: Raising risk-taking kids in a world that tells me I should bubble wrap them

Melissa Carton

My children climb and skate and jump off the jungle gym.

I never thought that these were strange activities for children to take part in.

When I was growing up I would spend hours with my friends playing in the park or riding around on our bikes.

Of course, there was many a grazed knee or bruised elbow, but that’s just normal for kids. So why does it feel like my kids are the exception and not the norm?

Why does it feel so strange raising risk-taking kids in a world that tells I should have them layered in padding at all times?

Nobody ever thought anything about playing games like paths or kerbs which would most definitely end up with someone taking a football to the face in the 90s.

The same went for trampolines, bouncy castles and seeing if you could hop down a step on your scooter.

All of these things feel almost taboo now. If you mention buying your child a trampoline there will be at least one other parent who will quote an article they read recently on the dangers of them.

They’re not wrong, in a sense, trampolines can be dangerous, but then again so can almost anything.

A tree is just a tree until your kid climbs it and falls but that’s part of the fun of being a child. The adventure. Trying new things and having absolutely no fear.

Parents are becoming more safety conscious which is great but sometimes it goes too far the other way and stops kids from being kids.

Whenever I post a photo or video of my kids I prepare myself for the possible backlash especially when it comes to my toddler.

While some people think it’s amazing that she’s so active and curious for her age I know others think I’m being irresponsible by letting her play on the ‘big slide’ or with her roller skates.

She’s always been fierce, since birth she’s been fierce and far from a wilting flower. Short of tying her to a chair I don’t know how I would stop her climbing and exploring as she does.

While we live in Dublin city I still want my kids to be as outdoorsy as possible. While they both love watching tv and playing Nintendo Switch I like to keep indoor activities to a minimum.

My children spend most of their day in the garden or in the park. They collect bugs, play football, climb and chase each other around. There are scraps and bruises but they always fade away.

They will only have this freedom for a short amount of time. Before I know it they’ll be finishing school and heading off to college and work so why not let them play. Risky play has even been shown to make children happier.

While it’s always important to make sure our kids don’t do anything that could cause them serious harm it’s also important to let them enjoy being little.

The majority of us fell off our bikes as kids but it never stopped us getting back on. Childhood is all about learning and exploration. So let them be wild, let them be free, but most importantly, just let them be kids.