Encouraging independent play is a fantastic way to prepare our children for a time when they have to leave the safety of the family and eventually head off to college or to start a family of their own. This is the case from even a young age and, often, troubles when starting school maybe stem from not being able to play alone often enough.
Playing with our kids is a joy and, with the knowledge that they won’t be interested one day, we all want to make the most of it while we can. But, if you’re constantly hovering over your child’s shoulder, you could soon inadvertently start to hinder everything from their creativity to their ability to interact with other kids. Unfortunately, many parents are crippled by fear of often imagined playground risks. In reality, though, playgrounds are far safer than we imagine and, to help you brave the separation, at last, we’re going to consider four reasons why playgrounds shouldn’t be cause for worry.
There’s a strong incentive to keep parks safe
Given that they involve children, premise liability personal injury claims off the back of park-based accidents can be a legal minefield that no company wants to face up to. As well as setting the court instantly against them, unsafe park setups are a sure way for companies to tarnish their reputation and stop people from wanting to enter that space again. All of this can be terrible for business and is the prime reason why play park safety is always considered, and very much overseen.
As such, from proper installation to safety flooring and beyond, you can rest easy that parks are always designed to offset serious injury, or even bumps and scrapes, as much as is humanly possible. Obviously, we’d be lying if we said that this is going to prevent your child from ever running to you with a park-based injury, but it should still go a long way towards helping your peace of mind. What’s more, precautions like these are proven to work, with a mere 40% of accidents in this environment related to park equipment itself. This is fantastic news as falls from high climbing frames or faulty equipment are way more likely to lead to serious injuries. What’s more, safety efforts in parks, in general, mean that there are only around 40,000 park injuries that result in hospital visits each year. This figure can seem high on the surface, and is often used as a shock statistic on parent’s forums, etc. but, when you actually consider the number of park visits there are annually, 40,000 is a very small percentage overall.
There are plenty of other parents around
Too often, we assume that if we aren’t watching our kids, no one else will. Of course, to some extent this is true – your children are your responsibility, and you need to keep an eye out, but in most cases, you aren’t going to be the only parent in the park. With that community spirit in mind, even if your kids do run off to play by themselves, you can rest easy that there will always be a reliable adult somewhere nearby. This, alone, can help to prevent fears about children getting lost, taken, or worse. It can also ensure that, if your child is doing something unsafe that you’re not close enough to hear about, or that you can’t see from a distance, other parents will likely either intervene or let you know what’s happening. This helpful oversight can be invaluable, not to mention that it could also see you landing some new friends while your kids go off to create new relationships themselves.
The benefits of independent play well outweigh the cons
There’s no denying that independent play in a play park poses some risks – this is a space crammed full of kids going wild, after all. But, ultimately, the benefits of encouraging play are always going to offset any small potential risks for minor injuries. Most notably, encouraging your kids to go off and get stuck in can –
- Encourage self-confidence
- Build personalities
- Foster imagination
- Encourage friendships within peer group
- Build problem-solving skills
- And more
When you pair these against what are undeniably low risks of injury from encouraging independence at the park, it’s plain to see that, while precautions should always be taken, overbearing precautionary measures can have far more of a detrimental impact than a slight scrape that, really, can act as its very own lesson in overall safety. Certainly better a playground-based injury with adults and safety precautions all around than an accident somewhere else when your child is older but hasn’t been given the chance to independently understand risks and consequences!
Children are safer than we assume
As parents, we’re programmed to see risks everywhere, assuming that, without us, our kids wouldn’t last a second. For some fearless children, there’s certainly truth in this but, often, kids are safer than we assume they’re going to be. Obviously, in some cases, children have no way to anticipate risk, and parent oversight is necessary for this, but for general play, kids take their own care. Like us, children are after all programmed towards survival. This is why some kids won’t tackle high climbing frames, or why it can take a while for them to warm up to the slide. Generally, instead of running first and thinking later, sensible children who are given a chance to explore situations like these will assess and avoid anything that they feel uncomfortable with, or that leaves them at immediate risk. As such, far from having to stand over them and act as their safety compass, parents who let their kids loose at the play park encourage their children to develop a safety compass of their own.