Why a little risk in kids' playtime might be just what they need

11 ideas to (safely) amp up the danger—and get over your own fear of risky play

Eight-year-old Finn Riley was flying his drone at a Denver park when the device got stuck halfway up a 50-foot ponderosa pine. Without hesitation, the boy climbed up the tree and shimmied his way onto a branch to retrieve the aircraft.

Then he got stuck. From the ground, Finn’s self-proclaimed “hands-off dad” discussed the best way to descend. “He started to hesitate, so I climbed up to him,” Chad Riley says. “We figured it out together.”

Even though an element of danger was involved, Riley wanted to give his son the space to make his own decisions. And he might be on to something. Play experts say that an element of risk during play is an important component of child development.

“As kids

Create a free account to continue and get unlimited access to hundreds of Nat Geo articles, plus newsletters.

Create your free account to continue reading

No credit card required. Unlimited access to free content.
Or get a Premium Subscription to access the best of Nat Geo - just $19

Read This Next

Scary fun: Why kids should play in the dark
Your guide to safely exploring the outdoors with kids
Why kids lie—and why it's not always bad