Parents have been urged to make sure their children get outdoors for plenty of active playtime and to let them take risks to help support their physical and cognitive development.
After spending far more time indoors, sedentary and on screens during the months of COVID lockdown last year, summer holidays are even more important than normal for children and adults.
Australian Physiotherapy Association spokeswoman Nicole Haynes said children should get outside and explore, play and take risks to build their physical and mental skills.
"More physically demanding and challenging activities promote muscle growth and coordination, but risky play goes beyond that," said Ms Haynes, who is chair of the APA pediatric group.
"Children's lives today are very structured, much more so than in their parents' or grandparents' childhoods. Many decisions are made for them, even when it comes to the playground. Risky play is about encouraging kids to participate in unstructured play, to be responsible for their own decision making, and the consequences that may come with those decisions."
We're not suggesting you put your children in the way of hazards or leave them unsupervised, but our reaction should be modified to suit the level of the hazard. Sometimes you only need to modify the challenge, not remove it.- Nicole Haynes
Ms Haynes said risky did not necessarily mean dangerous, but rather letting children problem solve for themselves.
"We're not suggesting you put your children in the way of hazards or leave them unsupervised, but our reaction should be modified to suit the level of the hazard. Sometimes you only need to modify the challenge, not remove it," she said.
"What we want to see is children given more opportunities to be active, challenge their bodies, and test their limits. As well as seeing these children improve their strength and balance, we also see them learn from their mistakes."
During the last few months of 2020 several playgrounds opened in new estates across Ballarat giving kids more options for climbing, running, playing and testing themselves.
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Ms Haynes urged parents to overcome their own fears and concerns for the sake of their kids and seek out opportunities which would allow children to take risks to build their confidence.
Building, digging, constructing, engaging in rough and tumble play, and cooking - or exploring outdoor areas and allowing children to use existing objects, tools, toys and equipment are all on the list of 'risky' activities that help children develop.
"We want to see kids develop mentally as well as physically. The goal is to inspire problem solving, creativity, initiative, and curiosity. These are all essential elements for our development into independent adulthood," Ms Haynes said.
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