Outdoor play is an important part of a child’s physical and social development. Unfortunately, getting active outside also comes with a number of inherent safety risks. Even parents who properly supervise their kids won’t be able to keep their eye on them at every moment. To keep your young child safe at the swings, playground or the park, it’s vital to make sure that they learn some critical safety skills.
Recognizing an emergency
For a small child, everything in the world is new and interesting. This can make it difficult to understand when something is legitimately extraordinary or dangerous. If, for example, your child’s friend accidentally falls and hits their head, your little one might not even realize that they need to tell an adult.
Children need to be able to recognize what kinds of incidents need to be brought to an adult’s attention, whether that be dangerous play behavior, suspicious strangers, or injuries. It’s also important to stress that they won’t get into trouble for delivering bad news, because many children will try to hide incidents for fear of being scolded.
The buddy system
Playing with a friend vastly reduces the risks associated with outdoor play. Even while your child is being supervised, an active play partner will be able to pay more attention and react much more quickly than a parent sitting on a park bench. Not only does this give mean that they have someone to get help if something bad happens, it also makes them much less likely to be targeted by predators.
How to choose helpers
Teach your child to determine which adults are safest to go to for help if they get lost, or you aren’t easily reachable for another reason. Make sure they can recognize a police officer, a firefighter, or other uniformed public servant. If those aren’t available, instruct them to look for other adults with children. Other parents know how to communicate with kids, and have a good reason to be at a playground or park, making them a safer option than other random people.
Memorizing Critical Information
Once a child finds a helpful adult, they’ll need to be able to give that person some important information. Your little one needs to memorize and be able to recite their name, address, and your phone number so that they can get in touch with you. Be sure that they can also spell those things, especially if the spellings aren’t phonetic and easy to guess for a listener.
When to Get Loud
If an adult makes your child uncomfortable for any reason, they offer them something, or ask them to go somewhere with them, your child needs to know what to do. Teach them to trust their instincts, and to say “No, I don’t know you”, get away from the person, and tell another adult. It’s far better to raise a false alarm than to be polite at the wrong time.
These few simple safety lessons can make a critical difference for your child and their friends. Take the time to make your neighborhood a safer place!