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More risks on school playgrounds linked to happier children

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“Children from schools with greater risk and challenge in the playground environment report being happier at school and playing with more children, according to a study published online April 24 in Pediatrics. Victoria L. Farmer, Ph.D., from the University of Otago in New Zealand, and colleagues conducted a two-year cluster-randomized controlled trial in which eight control schools were asked to not change their play environment, while eight intervention schools increased opportunities for risk and challenge (e.g., rough-and-tumble play), reduced rules, and added loose parts (e.g., tires). At baseline, one year, and two years, 840 children, 635 parents, and 90 teachers completed bullying questionnaires.”(more)

Why some risky play is necessary for kids

The Washington Post – Valerie Strauss

“Angela Hanscom is a pediatric occupational therapist who founded TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England. She has written a number of popular posts on this blog, including “Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today,” and she posts often on the TimberNook blog. Hanscom believes that children today are being harmed by restriction of movement in school, where recess and physical education have been dramatically cut back in many places, and outside, where playtime has become overly scripted. Efforts to make playgrounds safer, such as barring monkey bars or equipment from which children can fall, are backfiring, she says. And there is some research to support it.”(more)

Parents, put down your phones! Distracted mothers can damage their baby’s brain development by not giving ‘consistent care’

Daily Mail – SARAH GRIFFITHS

“Chaotic care by distracted mothers has been found to disrupt a baby’s brain development and may even lead to emotional disorders later in life, such as drug-seeking behaviour, experts have warned. The study suggests that seemingly harmless everyday interruptions, such as calls and messages, can have a long-lasting effect on a child…The scientists believe erratic maternal care of infants can increase the likelihood of risky behaviours such as seeking out drugs and depression as a teenager and adult…’Our work builds on many studies showing that maternal care is important for future emotional health. Importantly, it shows that it is not how much maternal care that influences adolescent behaviour, but the avoidance of fragmented and unpredictable care that is crucial.'”(more)

Secrets of the teenage brain: a psychologist’s guide for teachers

The Guardian – Bradley Busch

“Teenagers think differently to grownups – they are more likely to take risks, be sleepy, misread emotions, give in to peer-pressure and lack self-control. Thanks to advances in technology, we have been able to peer inside the teenage brain and see more clearly how it works. So what have we discovered? And how can we use this information to help young people navigate the challenges of growing up and getting an education?”(more)

Rethinking ‘ultra-safe’ playgrounds: Why it’s time to bring back ‘thrill-provoking’ equipment for kids

The Washington Post – Valerie Strauss

“Angela Hanscom is a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England. She has written a number of popular posts on this blog, including “Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today,” as well as “The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class” and “How schools ruined recess.” And here is her newest post, which adds to her exploration of the effects on children of limited movement. Her book, “Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children,” will be published in April 2016.”(more)

Kids Will Be Kids: Children Who Participate In Risky Outdoor Behavior Have Better Physical And Mental Health

Medical Daily – Justin Caba

“Children who lead a rough and tumble lifestyle tend to have parents with a great deal of trepidation. Every parent, teacher, or caregiver knows when caution is thrown to the wind things tend to get a little dangerous. While many parents don’t approve of too much horseplay, the unhealthy side effects of physical inactivity are pretty well-defined. A recent study conducted at the University of British Columbia has found that risky outdoor play can improve a child’s physical and mental health. “We found that play environments where children could take risks promoted increased play time, social interactions, creativity, and resilience,” Mariana Brussoni, assistant professor in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health and Department of Pediatrics…”(more)