As your kids get out of their toddler years they’ll start spending time out of your sight at preschool and later at school. At the playground it’ll be more difficult to keep an eye on them at all times. They’ll start playing with friends and running around more, and that new autonomy comes with new responsibilities that they’ll need to learn to deal with.
The most important of these is learning what to do when something goes wrong. It’s natural for young kids to try to cover up and hide “bad” behavior, and this can be dangerous if that means concealing a friend’s injury, or not telling a parent about the stranger that tried to talk to them. To keep your kids and their friends safe, you’ll need to coach them on the right way to react to every kind of situation.
Some of the most common kinds of injuries kids get are related to falling from play equipment like swings, monkey bars, and climbing walls. Bad luck is all it takes to twist and ankle, break a wrist, or get a concussion, even without necessarily doing anything unusually irresponsible. Unfortunately, a determined child might be able to conceal even a fairly serious injury for hours, especially if they aren’t feeling a lot of pain because of shock. Don’t encourage your child to downplay pain, and teach them to treat all types of injuries as serious and deserving of a response.
Whether they’re hurt or they saw someone else get injured, the first thing to do is to draw attention to the situation. Tell your little one that the first thing to do is to shout to try to alert any supervising adults.
2. Get Help
If an adult isn’t immediately in earshot, they’ll need to find one for themselves or their injured playmate. If their own parent isn’t available, they should look for other adults with children or someone in a uniform to minimize the risk of reaching out to an unhelpful stranger.
If at all possible, at least one person should stay with the injured child to help keep them calm while others look for help.
There is no good reason for a stranger to approach and speak to someone else’s child while they’re playing. Teach your kids that if an adult tries to chat with them, give them something, or show them something, they should tell a parent or supervisor immediately. A predator won’t necessarily try to snatch a child, and you need to know about and be able to respond quickly to someone trying to groom them while they’re at play.
Knowing exactly what is expected of them can greatly reduce a child’s anxiety and confusion when confronted with a serious situation. By coaching them early on, you’ll help to create a safer environment for both them and their friends.