It’s exciting when kids get old enough to run around and play actively. It opens up a whole new world of activities that kids can participate in, and makes it easier for parents to get out of the house as well. However, it also gives kids access to an entire new world of trouble.
Kids who play outside are naturally curious, and want to try new experiences, whether that means eating dirt and wood chips, or running off to look at the squirrel in the bushes. Keeping young kids safe during this time of their lives requires constant and specific attention.
Don’t bring distractions
When supervising their kids at the playground, parents often take the opportunity to read a book, relax with other parents, or to take a minute to play around on their cell phones. Being a parent is a tough job, and it can be tempting to take the time to relax. While this might be fine for older kids, it can be a serious problem with toddlers and young children.
Very young kids don’t understand danger, even if they know something isn’t allowed. Besides that, it’s difficult for them to manage impulses, and to consider the consequences of their actions. Because of that, they might simply wander off, try to eat something potentially harmful, or try to climb up something dangerous like the frame of a swing set, or a tree. Parents need to remain vigilant, so they can step in when their kids begin to do something dangerous.
Start Teaching about Safety Right Away
Young kids don’t have a strong sense of what is and isn’t safe, but that doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t begin teaching them. This does mean setting rules for how to play safely, which they’re unlikely to follow. More importantly, though, kids need to know what to do if something goes wrong.
Knowing when to get an adult’s attention
If a playmate wanders off, if someone falls and is hurt, if strangers act strangely toward them, or if they see blood, kids need to get the attention of an adult. While some kids will immediately run to their parents if they think something is wrong, others will naturally try to hide the information. To make sure that your kids are working with you rather than against you when it comes to keeping them safe, it’s important to give them very clear instructions for what they should do in specific situations as soon as they’re old enough to understand them.
What to do if they’re lost
Kids who wander off don’t do it to get away from their parents. Most often, it’s simply an issue of being momentarily distracted, or indulging their curiosity. Kids who are lost, and don’t see anyone they know nearby, should stay where they are, in a safe and visible place, to ensure that they don’t accidentally walk even further away from the playground, and their parents. Most importantly, kids should memorize their name, address, and phone number as soon as they’re able, to ensure that they can get help from other parents if needed.