Allowing sensible risks in a child care environment

11 July 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Having some sensible risks built into a child care environment is very important. This allows children to develop their physical and planning skills as well as develop resilience to try again after they fail in a task. The carer needs to give the children challenges that are developmentally appropriate and fun for the children. 

Discuss risks

When a child first experiences a new environment, it's a good idea to talk them through some of the risks they might see and discuss with them how they might use certain items or attempt certain tasks. Try not to be too prescriptive, but do help them if they need to navigate a serious risk. 

If you head out into an environment that has some risks that may be too advanced, it's a good idea to talk them through how to avoid these areas. This helps the child to develop some processes to assess risks for themselves and decide whether or not they can tackle them.

Manage risks

As an adult, it's important that you take on responsibility for managing larger risks. This can include removing broken toys and furniture or not allowing children into a room that has an active and uncontrollable danger such as a broken tap flooding a bathroom. You can also lay mats under climbing equipment to ensure that falls are not too serious. If you are looking after children in a formal environment such as a child care centre, having a regular inspection and maintenance routine are important parts of keeping kids safe. 

Accept small injuries

Small injuries such as scratches, grazes and bruises are an important part of childhood. Comfort the child when they get an injury, but encourage them to retry the tasks or get back on the equipment that they have just been injured on. Children develop confidence and pride when they tackle these tasks and finally get success. If you are not sure what activities are developmentally appropriate for children in the age group you are looking for, it can be useful to contact a child health nurse or speak to a family doctor for more guidance. 

Children enjoy taking risks, and having appropriate risks available for them can help to make your child care environment more interesting. Look to create activities and environments for them that include stimulating and age-appropriate risks so that they can learn appropriate risk assessment skills and develop confidence as they master new skills.