Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 9, pp 3027–3036 | Cite as

Physical Risk Taking in Preschoolers: A Comparison Between Children’s and Mothers’ Perceptions

  • Anna Di NorciaEmail author
  • Anna Silvia Bombi
  • Eleonora Cannoni
  • Gemma Marano
Original Paper


Children's injuries are a serious public-health problem, but they could be substantially reduced by proper prevention. According to the literature the best predictor of injuriesis the physical risk taking. In this study we examined preschoolers' and mothers' perceptions of children's physical risk taking. Participants included 203 children (M age = 60 months), their mothers and their teachers. We first compared children's and mothers' answers about desired and allowed level of risk in some play situations,and then we verified if children's and mothers' ideas equally predicted the risk for injuries at school. The teachers completed the Injury Behavior Checklist. Findings showed that children's desired risk taking was higher than their mothers believe. We also found that children at school, in absence of their parents but under the supervision of another adult, behaved according to their own wishes. Our findings suggest that mothers are not always reliable informants about the risk taking behavior of their young children while they are at school. Children's desires are a good predictor of their actual behavior, and for this reason interventions aiming at the reduction of injuries should be directed not only toward parents and teachers but also to the children themselves.


Unintentional injury Risk assessment Child interview Physical risk taking Preschoolers 



This work was supported by “Sapienza” University of Rome, “Ateneo 2015” (grant number: C26A15CI77).

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (Sapienza, University of Rome) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Author Contributions

ADN: designed and executed the study, analyzed the data, and wrote the paper. ASB: collaborated with the design and writing of the study. EC: collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. GM: collaborated in the editing of the final manuscript.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Social Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and PsychologyUniversity of Rome “Sapienza”, Italy, Via dei Marsi, 78RomaItaly

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