As a parent, you worry about your children. Are all their needs met? Are they healthy and happy? Are they safe when they’re away from you? To breathe a little easier — and reduce the potential for gray hairs — start teaching children about personal safety practices at a young age. Preparing kids of all ages to assess their surroundings and identify all scenarios will benefit them now and lay the groundwork for when they’re on their own. Allowing children to recognize the world around them will help heighten their sense of control and self esteem while preparing them to make safe and responsible decisions. Here are a few age-appropriate child safety tips for toddlers, preschoolers, grade-school kids, and teens:
It’s important to teach even the smallest children about safety, like how to avoid burns, choking, and falling. During the early stages, their communication skills are limited, but a firm “No!” can help young children differentiate between safe and unsafe. As kids get older, consider these safety activities for toddlers and preschoolers:
Define boundaries. Set simple, easily enforceable rules to start training kids to take instruction.
Turn it into a game. Play silly music (“Daniel Tiger” or “Blippi”) while you put away toys that could be tripping hazards.
Allow children to feed themselves. This helps facilitate a child developing their independence.
Give kids room. Offer them space, with a healthy level of supervision, to explore their surroundings.
Educate children about fire safety. Read books about firefighters, study fire safety resources regularly, or take a trip to the local fire department.
Teach kids to stay away from the road. Allow them to watch cars pass, and explain how such a big machine could harm a small child. Establish that roads are for cars, and sidewalks are for people.
Explain water safety rules. Explain to children that they shouldn’t run water, take a bath, or swim without an adult present.
Most every child this age wants to be a big kid. If you only had a dollar for every time you heard, “I wanna do it myself!” Kids in this age group are strengthening their independence and may even be a bit defiant. For parents, this stage can be frustrating, but it also offers the perfect teaching opportunities:
Step up the rules. Increased boundaries with children, such as limited TV time or healthy eating habits, helps them understand limitations, develop self-control, and process consequences.
Pick up toys. Explain the importance of ridding the home of hazards, especially if the child has younger toddler siblings who aren’t sure-footed.
Teach them how to lock and unlock doors. Familiarizing children with home locks will allow them to secure the home, if needed, and lessen the risk of getting locked in or out. If you have a smart lock installed, consider creating a code for your child to use when unlocking the door. This is a great alternative to keys, which can be lost by younger children.
Practice emergency procedures. Parents can turn this lesson into a fun game to play regularly, so children can repetitiously learn what to do in a sticky situation. For instance, demonstrate how to crawl under smoke in the event of a house fire, and familiarize your child with your family’s child safety kit.
Warn against strangers. Instruct children not to talk to or engage with people they don’t know. Also establish a random secret passphrase like “little red flower” or “mashed potatoes,” and tell children never to go with someone who doesn’t know the password.
Give them age-appropriate independence. Wondering when kids can walk to school alone? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children shouldn’t walk to school by themselves until they are approximately 10 years old or in fifth grade.
Exercise their memories. Play a game to encourage children to recall little details, such as what a person looks like or what color a passing car is. These skills will come in handy should you suspect someone is bothering or following your child.
Show them how to respond to emergencies. Review procedures, such as how to dial 911, and useful information, such as your full name and address.
Establish safe water habits. If you have a pool, sign your children up for swimming lessons, and develop a pre-swim routine that includes finding a pool time buddy.
Allow children to make mistakes. Inevitably, your child will refuse to listen. At that time, natural consequences, such as when a child falls after you tell them to quit running, become the best learning tool.
Model your child’s ideal behavior. Since children learn from adults, exhibit those attributes you’d like your child to have, such as buckling up in the car and safely storing keys.
Enter “the teenager,” who also learns quite a bit through making mistakes. They’ll likely glean info about the world through friends, TV, and the internet, so it’s a good idea to be honest and open when teaching them life skills such as:
Adhering to online safety tips. Explain the importance of being “unplugged,” set rules for what they should avoid sharing online, and set a healthy daily screen time limit.
Following procedures when you can’t be there. Wondering what age can kids stay home alone? Safe Kids Worldwide recommends children be 12 or 13 years old before staying home by themselves; however, this is dependent upon the child. For instance, if your mature 11-year-old has proved themselves to be responsible, you may trust them more than your 14-year-old who consistently breaks the rules.
Operating your home’s security system. Teach teens how to turn your system on and off and all the different tools included.
Changing a flat tire. Show your new driver how to fix a flat, and have them practice regularly
Brinks Home™ offers a variety of tools to help keep children of all ages safe whether you’re there or away:
Indoor and outdoor security cameras, paired with the Brinks Home Mobile app, helps you keep an eye on kids when you’re not around.
A smart deadbolt with a wireless keypad grants access to the home so kids don’t have to keep up with keys.
A Skybell Slim Line video doorbell allows children to see who is at the door before opening it.
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