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Parents' tolerance of risk in play and parents' country of birth predict children's abilities to assess risk: a pilot study with implications for occupational therapists




VanSkiver, Alison K., author
Bundy, Anita, advisor
Stephens, Jaclyn, committee member
Gloeckner, Gene, committee member

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Importance: Many parents do not allow their children to engage in risky play despite its many benefits on health and development. Objective: We investigated to what extent parents' tolerance of risky play predicts children's abilities to assess risk in a virtual street-crossing task. Other factors that were examined include age, sex, motor coordination, mothers' education level, and parents' country of birth. Design: Correlational, cross-sectional pilot study. Participants: Nineteen children (11 boys, 8 girls; M age = 8 years) and their parents (9 immigrant; 10 native to U.S. or Canada). Outcome and Measures: Tolerance of Risk in Play Scale (TRiPS); Motor Assessment Battery for Children (MABC-2); and virtual street-crossing task where we evaluated frequency of hits and close calls from virtual cars. Results: Parents' tolerance of risky play significantly predicted hits and close calls on the virtual street-crossing task (R2=.29, F(1,16)=6.52, p<.05). When all variables were forced into the regression analysis, parents' country of birth was the only significant predictor of hits and close calls (R2=.304, F(1,16)=6.99, p<.05). There was a strong correlation between parents' tolerance of risky play and parents' country of birth (r=.704, p<.01). Conclusions and Relevance: There was a co-occurrence for both parents' tolerance of risky play and country of birth as significant predictors of hits and close calls. This suggests that children whose parents have a higher tolerance for risky play are more likely to demonstrate safe pedestrian behavior. Additionally, children whose parents are immigrants, especially from Mexico, may be less likely to tolerate risky play, which may have a negative effect on children's abilities to cross the road safely. What This Article Adds: Occupational therapists can use these findings to encourage risky play opportunities through parent education to enhance children's abilities to assess risk and reduce chance of pedestrian injuries.


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risk perception
outdoor play
child development
risk taking


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