Parents really shouldn't take playground safety lightly, for adult supervision and risk awareness are the keys to keeping kids playing and progressing, says a new study.
The study was conducted by two occupational therapy professors at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, who said that though it was important for kids to fall, it was also important to have adults to supervise their play.
"We have to allow opportunities for kids to fall, within reason, because not only do kids need to learn what to do, but they also need to learn what not to do. But kids may not know the limits of that, so that's why you need to supervise their play," said Roger Ideishi, JD, OT/L, assistant professor of occupational therapy at the institute.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says playground equipment is the leading cause of injuries to children, and more deaths occur at home than anywhere else.
"As far as safety goes, cushioned surfaces and safety standards certainly help, but nothing works better than a parent's eyes and ears," advised Paula Kramer, PhD, chair and professor of occupational therapy at USP.
She added that parents should watch attentively from a distance so they can interrupt only when necessary.
They should also periodically inspect playgrounds for dangers such as protruding hooks and bolts, hard surfaces, tripping hazards, splinters, and even metallic or plastic surfaces that can get hot in the sun.
"Kids are hard on things, and these playgrounds aren't indestructible. It's a matter of inspecting and watching the things you have at home," she said.