No one likes seeing a little kid fall or get hurt -- especially when it's your own child.

I'm sure many parents would bubble wrap their little ones before sending them out if they could, and some practically do these days.

But they don't really need that protection -- because playgrounds have gotten so safe and dull that kids no longer have a chance to engage in the types of mildly risky play that's such an important part of development.

And a recent report in the New York Times shows how children who never get a chance to run those risks could grow up to be anxious adults.

One researcher who spent time watching kids play in three countries even divided the risks of play into categories: heights, speed, dangerous tools, dangerous elements like water, rough play, and wandering off alone.

Dr. Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway, told the Times that children experience each of those dangers in small-but-increasing doses -- like a kid who will climb a little higher each time he attempts the jungle gym.

It's a way of getting over fears and learning independence -- and it's actually similar to steps shrinks use to help adults overcome many fears.

Even an injury won't stop that process: One study, for example, found that kids hurt in a fall before the age of 9 are actually less likely to be afraid of heights later on than kids who never fall.

But today's playgrounds don't have many heights to fall from -- my guess is that in addition to angry parents and screaming kids, parks departments are afraid of lawsuits.

It might be too late to turn back the clock on playgrounds -- the liability issues alone mean we'll never see any with the risks of yesteryear.

But it's not too late to let your children and grandchildren take their own risks within reason -- so don't be afraid to peel back the bubble wrap every now and then.

And don't be afraid of the usual falls, slips, trips, bumps, bruises and even the occasional broken bone -- because getting hurt from time to time is actually good for them.