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Adventurous play as a mechanism for decreasing children’s risk for anxiety

IMC Tuesday Seminar: Talk by Helen Dodd, University of Exeter, UK.

Info about event


Tuesday 14 December 2021,  at 11:00 - 12:30


Online: https://aarhusuniversity.zoom.us/my/imcevents

When children play in an adventurous way, climbing trees, riding their bikes fast downhill and jumping from rocks, they experience feelings of fear and excitement, thrill and adrenaline. In a conceptual model published in 2021, I propose that the positive, thrilling and playful emotions associated with this type of child-led play facilitate exposure to fear-provoking situations and, in doing so, provide opportunities for children to learn about physiological arousal, uncertainty and coping. I hypothesise that these learning opportunities will, over time, reduce children’s risk for elevated anxiety by increasing children’s expectations and ability to cope with anxiety, decreasing intolerance of uncertainty and preventing catastrophic misinterpretations of physiological arousal. In this talk I will outline the evidence-base for these ideas and describe the programme of work we have planned to explore them in the coming years.


Helen Dodd completed her PhD and postdoctoral work at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She is now a Professor of Child Psychology at the University of Exeter, UK. Her research focuses on the development of anxiety disorders in children, with a particular focus on understanding factors that might help to prevent anxiety, and broader mental health problems, in preschool and primary school aged children. She holds a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship which funds a seven-year program of research focusing on children’s adventurous play as a mechanism to decrease risk for anxiety.