Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Learning how to play it safe

My son has a special title: He is our safety officer. Whenever we get in the car to go to school, I tell him that he is responsible for making sure everyone is buckled up for safety. When he helps me cook in the kitchen, I've given him the responsibility for making sure I am being safe around the stove.

Like most parents, my husband and I try to give our son a sense of balance: My husband has always encouraged our son to test his limits, but I am always a bit more nervous about his safety. But, it turns out, most Moms are that way.

A group of researchers at the University of Iowa tested how Mothers and their children rated various dangerous scenarios - everything from climbing on a counter to using an axe (they didn't actually give children an axe, they just talked about it). Not surprisingly, there was a vast difference in the danger ratings.

So how can we help discuss potential hazards for our children in a way that will help them with safety? Here are some tips:
  • Although you may initially get your child's attention with phrases like "Don't do that!" don't forget to explain why. 
  • Use terms that explain exact consequences, not things that could happen in the future, since children are usually only interested in their immediate needs.
  • Designate your child to be in charge of safety for a day and have them point out dangerous situations to family members.
  • Use empathetic storytelling to tell your child about your own injuries; let them know that you aren't impervious to pain.
  • Try to let the little things go.
That last one is hard, since we all want to keep our children safe, but I feel like I need to follow in my husband's footsteps sometimes and let our son push his boundaries.

What's the worst injury you had as a child from not being safe?


  1. I think its a mom's second nature to be cautious with our kids and dads to give a little more lead way. These are great tips, especially allowing them to be in charge of buckled up.

    1. I agree - it's hard for me to "think like Dad" sometimes and let my son take more risks. But it is so rewarding to watch him conquer a new obstacle!

  2. I wasn't a wild kid, I never had any injuries other than a cut thumb in shop class (I still have the scar). However, I did let my son take too much of a risk on a playground and he ended up with a fracture hip. Never let your kid climb the outside of those covered slides. There's nothing to grip onto if they fall. And this comes from a mom who lets her sons take risks, just not that one. I also think it's important to teach over and over to stop at a road for all reasons, including running after a ball. My kids know to not cross a street without me, yet I constantly see kids who won't even pause while stepping off a sidewalk. It just takes practice and if kids only play in their backyard or playgrounds, they don't get enough practice. Kids need to play in their front yards too and learn where the boundaries are.

    1. I like your line of thinking - safety comes with practice. Lots of it!