As parents, we have a lot of knowledge to pass on. The school takes care of education for the most part. But, in the early years, you are your children’s primary education source. And, there are always those things that school can’t teach them. When we look at how much it is for our kids to learn, it can seem overwhelming. Like with any big task, it helps to break it into manageable chunks.
The first thing our children learn from us is language. The may pick up certain things from the other people they come across. But, what they learn from you will have a huge impact on how they develop. Then, there are general things, like shape recognition and the ability to read. The amount of time you put into these pursuits will affect how much your child learns. The more they learn, the better off they’ll be once they reach school age.
Safety is, in many ways, the most important thing you can teach. As parents, you’ll want your child to know as much about staying safe as possible. The chances are, harm coming to them has been in your nightmares since their birth. Safety can be hard to teach because as adults we’ve had it drummed into us for so long. Many of the dangers to watch out for are second nature to us. The same won’t be true for your kids. Children have a fearlessness that is, in some ways, charming. But that fearlessness can also mean they get hurt. So, what do you have to consider when teaching them about safety?
SAFETY AT HOME
Your home is where your child will spend the majority of time during their early years. That’s why it makes sense to start teaching them about safety there first. Our homes have many hazards to look out for, especially with little ones. When they’re young, you can protect them with child safety gates and playpens. There comes a time, though, when you have to take things further. You can’t keep your kids locked up forever! The most dangerous place is the kitchen. Here, there’s cleaning products, sharp knives, and heat. A parent’s nightmare! Teaching your children to be safe in the kitchen means you no longer have to watch like a hawk every time they enter the space. Teach them, straight away, not to go near the oven. If you have any burn scars yourself, show your children. Kids often learn best through sight. Seeing a baddy on Mummy or Daddy may be the best way to keep them away. Other than that, keep repeating that it’s hot and they’re not to touch. Kids have selective memories when it comes to things like this. Repetition is often the best way forward. Last, but by no means, least, stress the importance of staying away from cleaning products. Explain the dangers, and again, repeat!
The dangers don’t end in the kitchen, either. Sharp corners, stairs, and doors are other risk areas to consider. For the most part, kids learn about these through trial and error. We want to protect them, but we can’t do that by wrapping them in cotton wool. Teach them about the dangers as best you can, but don’t worry too much if they do have an accident. A bump on the head isn’t going to kill them, and it’s one way to be sure they won’t do it again. Don’t rush to their side every time you suspect danger. Let them learn about their world. Put door stops under your doors, and stress to your kids the importance of putting them in place. Not taking such precautions could lead to trapped fingers and injured toes! If you’re worried, it might also be a good idea to put some padding on extremely sharp corners.
When out and about with your kids, it’s crucial you teach them about road safety. Failure to do so could result in a nasty accident. Make sure that doesn’t happen by tackling the problem. Whenever you take your children out, stress the importance of stopping and looking. Again, remember how effective repetition can be. It may be worth repeating the information every time you cross the road. That way, there’s less chance of them forgetting when they’re out and about without you.
As with anything, it also helps to lead by example. Make a point of showing your children how much care you take when crossing the road. Always cross at a designated crossing or footbridge. If they see you running across the road, what’s to stop them doing the same when you’re not there? If you’re using a crossing, take care to tell them when you’re pressing the button. If you think it will help, you could make a game of watching for the lights to turn red. But, make sure they’re not too caught in the game to cross sensibly!
This list wouldn’t be complete without mention of fire safety. It’s your job to teach your children the importance of taking care around a fire. This starts, of course, when you teach them about the danger of heat in the kitchen. But, that’s not the only fire risk, and it’s important they know that. For the most part, though, you should focus on what they should do in case of a fire. Children don’t often come into contact with anything capable of starting a fire. At least, they shouldn’t! But, they do need to know how to act should anything happen.
Teach them the importance of calling the emergency services. 911 is an easy number for them to remember, and it could save their lives. If you’re worried, you could keep lists of emergency numbers by the phone. That way, you can be sure they won’t forget it if they’re panicking. It’s also important to tell them not to ring you first! In most things, we want to be their first port of call, but this is not one of them. When they’re afraid, you’ll be the first person they ring. Tell them that they need to call emergency services and then wait! And, of course, you need to tell them a little bit about what to say to the emergency services, too. Kids can rarely remember their addresses. It may be worth writing your address and postcode on that list of emergency numbers.
It can help to have fun with your teaching here. It’s a good idea to play fire safety games. It might be the best way to cement the facts in their minds. Stock up on fire safety coloring books, and fire engine toys. A lot of children are afraid of firemen, so buying toys and books about these is also a good idea. You don’t want your child to run and hide from the people trying to help them! Also, remember that they teach fire safety at school. Don’t worry too much about knowing everything. As long as you teach them the basics, a school can take care of the rest.
Safety doesn’t stop with the big things, either. It’s also important you teach your kids how to stay safe while they play. Children are boisterous, and things can get out of hand if you don’t tell them otherwise. Aside from the risk of injury to your child, they could hurt someone else.
While safe play mainly applies to play parks and other social locations, the learning starts at home. Observe the way your child plays. Don’t jump in and get angry if they exhibit violent behavior. Instead, ask them to come and speak with you. Explain what you saw and why it’s dangerous. Kids don’t mean any harm when they get violent in play. It’s natural behavior, and they have yet to learn the difference between right and wrong. Instead of shouting at them, explain what they did and why they shouldn’t do it again. That way, they’ll have a better understanding of how to act when playing with others.
Of course, your gentle teaching could go out the window when they’re playing with other rough children. That’s why it’s important you observe. As soon as you witness behavior you don’t agree with, step in. If the same thing keeps happening, make an ultimatum of going home if it happens again. And stick to it! Your child wants to play, so the threat of going home has to be a real one if you want to see any change.
Direct teaching aside, it’s important your child plays with as many children as possible. They’ll learn by doing, so you need to give them plenty of opportunities. It can also help to observe the children they’re playing with. Kids copy each other. If they’re playing with someone violent, they may mirror that behavior. If you see this happening, move them to another area to play. There will soon come a time when you can’t choose who they play with. Make the most of it now!