Parental Perspectives on the Barriers and Facilitators to Risky-Play in Children

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Kayla Christine Waddington Erin S. Pearson

Abstract

Background: Children’s physical activity (PA) levels have fallen below national recommendations, while sedentary behaviour has increased. Lack of PA heightens the risk for developing chronic diseases (e.g., obesity, diabetes) and experiencing adverse psychosocial health (e.g., stress, depression), which can place children on an unhealthy trajectory for adulthood. Therefore, it is essential to foster healthy habits, such as PA, early. Risky-play is one mechanism used to enhance PA but it occurs rarely. Understanding parental views on risky-play is important, especially regarding younger children who are developing their PA-related behaviours and preferences. The purpose of this research was to explore the viewpoints of parents with preschool children (3-5 years) on the barriers and facilitators to risky-play.



Methods: A descriptive study integrating semi-structured interviews was employed with parents of preschool children. Questions explored opinions on and experiences with risky-play. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using both inductive and deductive content analysis.



Results: Ten individuals were interviewed (7 mothers, 2 fathers, 1 guardian). Themes emerged regarding barriers (fear of injury, geography; language use; parenting style) and facilitators (development; autonomy; opinions of peers) to risky-play.



Conclusion: Exploring parental views on risky-play enabled insight into the various influences related to uptake or lack thereof. According to these participants, it appears that risky-play is highly regarded, but allowing children to participate is challenging due to safety concerns and social comparisons (e.g., perceived judgement). Study findings are applicable to local healthcare providers, educators, and stakeholders interested in ways to enhance PA and child health among preschoolers.

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