As a parent, one of your highest priorities is keeping your child safe. However, instilling proper habits can be difficult. Children can become frightened by too-stern lectures, while kids who aren’t talked to about safety issues may become careless. Here are some talking points to keep in mind when discussing safety issues with your child.
Talk about Decision-Making
Learning to make good decisions is a critical skill. As your child grows up, he or she will have to learn to plan ahead and make the best decisions possible. When it’s appropriate, explain your decision-making process to your child so they will understand your way of thinking. For example, you can explain to your toddler that we always cross the street at the corner. Not just because that’s the rule, but so drivers can see us. You can explain to an older child that we walk facing traffic so we can see oncoming vehicles and leap out of the way if a car swerves near.
Always Model Safe Behavior
Actions always speak louder than words. As with all behavior, children model what they see. If they see you not wearing a seatbelt or riding a bike without a helmet, they will do the exact same thing. Make sure your child sees you taking steps to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. By modeling good behavior, your child will automatically mimic you.
Discuss Thinking for the Future
Very young children often don’t understand cause and effect. For example, a four-year-old child usually won’t consider that a cracked and uneven sidewalk could make for a spectacular wipeout on their bike, complete with bloody knees. If your child is injured by improperly maintained sidewalks, you should speak to a lawyer. Professionals, like those at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., know that bicyclists can be involved in an accident if the bike path is not properly maintained. You should also discuss cause and effect with your child and ensure they understand that thinking ahead is important.
Be Realistic with Possible Outcomes
Some parents go too far when enumerating the possible outcomes of any given risky behavior. This undermines your child’s trust in you. For example, yes, you can break your neck by diving into shallow water. More likely, however, is a harsh bump to the head and perhaps some chipped teeth. When warning your kid about possible outcomes, talk about likely scenarios in addition to the one-in-a-million horror.
Raising children to have good safety habits is an ongoing process. By keeping these talking points in mind, you can raise a child who is cautious without being anxious or fearful.