This episode of the Sage Family Podcast is an engaging  interview with Peter Gray, Evolutionary Psychologist, blogger and author of the inspiring book Free to Learn. Peter explains why the adult way of looking at childhood can have a negative impact on childhood learning and the consequences of disallowing inoculations of risk. Peter is a research professor of psychology at Boston College and founding board member and president of the alliance for self-directed education.

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Subject Area: Risky Play

This article takes an evolutionary perspective of children’s risky play, looking at evolutionary functions and the anti-phobic effects of risky play.

According to non-associative theory, infants develop fear of things (like heights and strangers) to protect them from situations they are not mature enough to naturally cope with. Risky play provides children with the experience of facing situations they were previously scared of, coupled with a thrilling positive emotion. As they learn to cope with these situations and gain a sense of mastery, their fear no longer holds power.

 The authors conclude that risky play may have evolved as a natural phobia reducing developmental mechanism and that consequently, being hindered from taking part in age appropriate risky play may in fact increase the likelihood of mental health problems later in life.

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Developmental psychologist and researcher, Professor Marti Erickson, Co-Founder and Past Chair of the Children and Nature Network; and founder of Weekly Parenting Podcast ‘Mom Enough’, chats with host Tania Maloney about the growing body of research advocating for children’s reconnection with nature.  Professor Erickson explains how unstructured time outdoors helps children feel a sense of connection, competence and contribution, the 3 keys for growing into healthy, happy adults. She also shares insight into child/parent attachment and family connections, shared nature experiences, nurturing strong family bonds and the restorative effect of ‘getting the wild out’.

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Length: 57m : 48s