Parents’ Perceptions of Risk and the Influence on Children’s Everyday Activities
- 1.6k Downloads
This paper reports the results of a qualitative study of parents’ perceptions of risk and the influence these perceptions had on children’s access to age-appropriate risk taking activities. Thirty-seven parents, aged 28–55 years, participated in semi-structured, in-depth interviews after completing a card sort of the attributes they most desired for their children. Parents formed two groups; one (n = 18) comprised parents who had encountered significant risk in their lives; the second (n = 19) had lived relatively risk-free lives. All parents focused on one of their children, aged 5–17 years, as they engaged in the interviews. We based our analysis of participants’ narratives on an adaptation of Charmaz’s approach to social analysis and Packer’s perspective of hermeneutic interpretation. While all parents provided their children with autonomy support (i.e., structure, guidance and connectedness), parents who had experienced significant risks themselves were better able to balance safety and adventure and offer their children opportunities to manage everyday risk and uncertainty. These parents focused on the benefits of participating in age-appropriate risk taking activities to develop life skills. Parents who had relatively risk-free lives focused more on protecting children from harm and preventing them from making mistakes. These parents’ narratives reflected their concerns about whether they were doing the right things for their children and whether others viewed them as good parents. Results suggested that when parents balanced telic (i.e., serious, cautious, goal-oriented, arousal-reducing) and paratelic (i.e., playful, adventurous, activity-oriented, arousal-seeking) motivations and offered children opportunities to engage in age-appropriate risk taking, their children also learned to move between telic and paratelic motivations flexibly. We conclude that risk and uncertainty are not only valuable, but necessary, contributors to children’s healthy development of happiness, well-being and resilience.
KeywordsRisk perception Risk taking Parents Children’s well-being Resilience
- Apter, M. J. (2007). Reversal theory:The dynamics of motivation, emotion, and personality (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oneworld.Google Scholar
- Beck, U. (1992). Risk society: Towards a new modernity. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Brown, S. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York: Avery.Google Scholar
- Buchanan, C. (1999). Building better playgrounds: A project for parents. UAB Magazine, 19(3).Google Scholar
- Bundy, A., Naughton, G., Tranter, P., Wyver, S., Baur, L., Schiller, W., Brentnall, J. (2011). The Sydney playground project: Popping the bubblewrap-unleashing the power of play: A cluster randomized controlled trial of a primary school playground-based intervention aiming to increase children’s physical activity and social skills. BMC Public Health, 11. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-680.
- Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95(3), 542–575.Google Scholar
- Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
- Fredrickson, B. L. (2009). Positivity. New York: Crown Publishing Group.Google Scholar
- Giddens, A. (1990). The consequences of modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
- Gill, T. (2007). No fear: Growing up in a risk averse society. London: Calouse Gulbenkian Foundation.Google Scholar
- Gray, C. (2010). The new social story book: Future Horizons Incorporated.Google Scholar
- Grolnick, W., & Seal, K. (2008). Pressured parents, stressed-out kids: Dealing with competition while raising a successful child: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
- Guldberg, H. (2009). Reclaiming childhood: Freedom and play in an age of fear. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking: fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
- Lupton, D. (1999). Risk. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). The how of happiness: Is it possible to become lastingly happier and if so, how? Paper presented at the happiness and its causes conference, Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
- Niehues, A., Bundy, A., Broom, A., & Tranter, P. (2013). Everyday uncertainties: Reframing adults’ perceptions of risk in children’s outdoor free play. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning, 1. doi: 10.1080/14729679.2013.798588.
- Packer, M. (2011). The science of qualitative research. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Power, A. (2011, June 21, 2013). Thoughts on surplus safety. Retrieved from allenpower.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/thoughts-on-surplus-safety/.Google Scholar
- Seligman, M. (2008). Positive health. Applied Psychology: An International Reivew, 57, 3–18. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.2008.00351.x.
- Seligman, M. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Slovic, P. (2000). The perception of risk. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd.Google Scholar
- Tovey, H. (2007). Playing outdoors: Spaces and places, risk and challenge. New York: Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Tulloch, J., & Lupton, D. (2003). Risk and everyday life. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Ungar, M. (2007). Too safe for their own good: How risk and responsibility help teens thrive. Crow’s Nest, NSW: Inspired Living.Google Scholar