Date of Award


Document Type

Research Project

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)




The current culture in the United States seeks to minimize the amount of risk that children are exposed to. However, the opportunity to take risks, try one’s strengths, and experience uncertainty and failure have been shown to increase resiliency, independence, and overall well-being (Little & Sweller, 2015). Young children need the opportunity to take physical risks in their play in order to develop these traits and their understanding of their environment and the natural world around them. This action research study sought to understand parental attitudes towards young children taking physical risks and how they impact children’s risk-taking behaviors and the development of their risk-assessment skills. Nine children were observed and their parents surveyed. A strong relationship was found between parental attitudes towards hypothetical risk-taking scenarios and children’s actual risk-taking behaviors during play. Parents who rated hypothetical scenarios as more risky tended to have children who exhibited risk-averse behaviors, while parents who ranked hypothetical scenarios as less risky tended to have children prone to taking risks.


Affiliation: Bowdoin College Children’s Center



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