While you always want to be watching your child closely, realistically it’s hard to keep an eye on them at all times. That’s why it’s crucial to teach kids the importance of safety from an early age.
We spoke to Dr Cath Laws — President of Protective Behaviours, a retired principal and a lecturer at the Australian Catholic University — about how to best broach safety with young children. Here’s what she had to say.
Listen to the full interview:
1. Define what ‘safety’ is
Children need to understand what it means to feel ‘safe’. Even before they can talk, start using the word ‘safe’ around them. For example, hug them while telling them they are safe — this allows children to connect safety with people and places they feel comfortable with.
2. Create rules
Introducing simple rules for your child to follow will help them stay safe in potentially dangerous situations. For example, make it a rule that your child must answer when they’re called for, or that they should ask permission from an adult before going anywhere on their own.
3. Explain why an experience is bad
While it’s important to teach kids about safety, it’s also just as important to ensure they understand ‘why’ something is unsafe. For example, explain ‘why’ they must stop at a road crossing. This way they will begin to understand rules are not for getting in the way of fun, but are in place for important reasons.
4. What to do when lost
All children should know their full name in case of an emergency, such as getting lost. In busy places like shopping centres or carnivals, point out the security guards and concierge staff, and explain what to do if they lose you.
Finally, it’s most important to find ways to focus on safety without scaring kids — if your child likes to hide while you’re out and you can’t find them, acknowledge that it’s fun to play hide and seek but discuss how it makes their loved ones feel when they can’t be found.
For more information on keeping kids safe and healthy, visit Better Families.