I've just been through my photo collection picking out a few pictures of things that I've seen children told NOT to do in various playgrounds where I've worked. They are all activities that are relatively or completely safe, and activities which I might hover around but always allow- yet I've seen many over-anxious carers (and parents) try to forbid them.
Carers are possibly the worst about this- maybe because of local regulations which are over-restrictive and based on a fear of litigious parents, but more often perhaps because they simply don't want to risk having to fill in an incident report! Nothing to do with the child's learning and long-term wellbeing, really!
Have you stopped a child from doing any of these completely normal activities, which all help their brains to develop competent risk assessment as well as encouraging self-confidence, creativity and motor control?
(Don't be daft, I'm testing my balance. The ground is less than two feet away, for heaven's sake. And a wedgie on the rails will hurt, but it won't kill me!)
(Stop scripting my play and encouraging anxiety- I don't even know what that word means and it's totally inappropriate here. I'm experimenting with my body's flexibility and I'm perfectly capable of asking for help if I need it.)
(Actually, I can see through the holes, and the world looks really different like this. Do you have issues with me seeing you with stripes across your face? I might even paint a picture of you like that later, with your cross face on and little lines all over it.)
"STOP CLIMBING ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE FORT!"
(Um, is there some stupid rule about how and where to climb? Says who? Why did they put these handles here then? I'm testing my upper body strength. Leave me alone!)
"STOP IT! YOU'LL FALL AND HURT YOURSELF!"
(And then I'll work out how to do it better next time. Face it, I'm hardly going to break my neck at this height.)
"THE SLIPPERY DIP IS FOR SLIDING DOWN, NOT FOR JUMPING FROM OR CLIMBING UP!"
(Why? I'm challenging my balance, my fears, my control... what's your problem? This is LEARNING I'm doing here! So I might slip, misjudge, fall on my face and cry- so what? I'll hold on tighter next time, or jump further.)
"DON'T TOUCH THAT. ELECTRICITY IS DANGEROUS!"
(Then how come you're touching it? I'm just trying to help. Why not teach me which bits are really dangerous, instead of putting the whole thing deliciously out of bounds?)
(That's my own little fellow there; I wish he picked up the vacuum cleaner as often now that he's all grown up!)
"GET OUT OF THAT TREE. YOU'LL BREAK YOUR ARM!"
(As kids have done for centuries. I can see the world from up here. I feel strong and powerful and capable. I'm developing a love of nature. And your problem is- what? Would you rather I tested my limits the first time I drive a car alone?)
"DON'T TOUCH THAT DOG. HE MIGHT BITE YOU!"
(Oh, so you'd rather I was frightened of dogs? How about you teach me how to talk to a dog, instead of scaring me to death?)
Yep, let them do it, unless they really are in imminent danger of death or permanent disability. Stop whining and start teaching your kids what danger really looks like. Then take a deep breath, check your accident insurance and ambulance cover, and let them teach themselves courage, sound judgment and resilience.