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‘It tickles in my tummy’ - Children and risk Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter Department for Physical Education Queen Maud University College for Early Childhood.

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Presentation on theme: "‘It tickles in my tummy’ - Children and risk Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter Department for Physical Education Queen Maud University College for Early Childhood."— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘It tickles in my tummy’ - Children and risk Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter Department for Physical Education Queen Maud University College for Early Childhood Education Trondheim, Norway

2 Short Background Risky play = thrilling and exciting forms of play that involve a risk of physical injury Risk-taking seems to be a natural part of children’s play (Ball, 2002; Readdick & Park, 1998; Smith, 1998; Stephenson, 2003; Stine, 1997) A growing discussion on play safety for children Are we listening to the children? This presentation aims to draw attention to why children seek risk-taking in play, and how they experience this kind of play

3 What is risky play? (Sandseter, 2007)

4 Aim of the study Why do children engage in risky play? – What are their aims of the play? – What motivates them to engage or not in risky play? – What is their experience of engaging in the play?

5 Method Interviews of 23 four- and five-year olds in two Norwegian preschools (barnehage) One – to – one qualitative semi-structured interviews Themes were: – Motives for engaging in risky play – What kind of risky play they preferred – Why they preferred this kind of play – Experiences of engaging in risky play – Describing what kind of play was fun, thrilling or scary, and why they perceived it this way

6 Analysis of data The interview data was analyzed using a combination of theory-driven and data-driven thematic analysis The analysis was phenomenological in terms of exploring the children’s own conscious experience of their motivation and emotions regarding the issue of risky play in accordance with the telic and paratelic states within Reversal Theory (Apter, 1989, 2001a, 2007a, 2007b) The Descriptive Phenomenological Psychological Method (Giorgi & Giorgi, 2003)

7 Main result Children’s experiences of risky play formed a phenomenological structure where the contrasts and ambiguity between the experiences of pleasant emotions versus unpleasant emotions were key concepts This led to a contrast of arousal-increasing strategies versus arousal-reducing strategies… …and to the actions of approach/engagement versus refusal/withdrawal.

8 Pleasant/positive emotions in risky play (paratelic) → arousal increasing strategies increasing speed / going ‘racer speed,’ increasing height, being more reckless, or acting in a more threatening way by making grimaces, sounds, violent movements, when play fighting/chasing/ catching each other. neslowing down the speed by braking, reducing height by climbing down or stopping ascending, and stopping the speed in the swings by braking with a foot, climbing carefully down instead of jumping down, holding on tight when being at great heights or on a swing, whittling ‘the right way. Unpleasant/negative emotions in risky play (telic) → arousal reducing strategies

9 Describing the pleasant emotions I just have to scream out loud, or I just laugh and laugh…! it feels like ‘ho-ho-ho’. My heart goes ‘doing-doing’, or It’s so fun I almost get sick/nauseous, or It prickles all over my body.

10 Describing the unpleasant emotions Fright: I will injure myself I get too scared I will not manage It’s too much height It’s too much speed A perception of loosing control

11 The Ambiguity of Risky Play Both pleasant and unpleasant emotions at the same time → “Scaryfunny” It’s very fun and very scary and all sorts of things…and then I feel both excited and really scared at the same time! (Martin, 5 years) “It tickles in my tummy” They balance on the edge between excitement and fear

12 Ambivalent descriptions of their experiences It’s fun to climb high up, but it’s scary because I can fall down It’s fun to whittle, but it’s scary because I can cut myself It’s fun to ride the bicycle fast downhill, but it’s scary because I can fall off and get hurt Jumping off the swing in high speed is fun but scary because I can get hurt when hitting the ground It’s both fun and scary to climb when I almost fall down and hurt myself

13 Conclusion The pleasant emotions that risky play generates are the primary motivation for engaging in this kind of play. In order to experience the most pleasant feelings the children have arousal- increasing strategies. Children’s ultimate goal of risky play is to balance on the edge between excitement and fear, and to maintain both pleasant and unpleasant emotions present in the play situation

14 Thank you for listening! This study is part of a larger PhD work: Scaryfunny: A Qualitative Study of Risky Play Among Preschool Children The thesis can be downloaded here: portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:322544&rvn=1 portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:322544&rvn=1 Please contact me if you have questions:


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