Discussing safety with kids


Around the pool

Among the safety rules to follow at the pool, you'll probably want to emphasize that no one should ever run around the pool, push each other or dive (except from diving boards or in designated diving areas). Make it clear that if the weather turns bad, they need to leave the pool immediately. Why not encourage the older kids to act as an example to the younger ones?


At play

When they're in the playground or in your own back yard, don't you want to know your kids are being careful? Falls can in fact be avoided if kids know what equipment is right for their size and age. Walk them through a jungle gym and show them how to use everything properly. It's also a good excuse to get moving yourself. Watching what they like and don't like will also help you steer your safety discussions and reassure your children about some of their concerns. Also, remember to explain to them that the stairs in your home are no place for play. Popular family blogger Maude Goyer, points out that "every six minutes, a child falls down the stairs."


How's school?

Encourage your kids to talk about any worries they might have and try to use the same language they do. They may not fully understand what the word "violence" means, but they can definitely express being afraid of a situation or a classmate. Help identify which adults (a friendly secretary or trusted teacher) your children can talk to if they feel threatened. Also, ensure that your children know how to reach you (or another family member or friend) during the school day. The school must have your contact information in order to reach you at any time, so make sure to keep them up to date of any changes. Plus remind your children that they can talk to you in case of emergency they can ask their teacher to call you.


Pills are not candy!

If your kids are taking medication, don't compare it to candy, even if it tastes good. In addition to talking with your children about the dangers of street drugs, you might also want to address misuse or abuse of medications. Let them know that they should only take prescription medicine that has their name on it, and that taking someone else's medication could make them very sick.


Playing with fire will get you burned

Develop an evacuation plan for your home in case of fire and have a family meeting to discuss it. Show your kids alternate routes to get out of the house and discuss the importance of not hiding in closets or other locations where you or firefighters wouldn't be able to find them. Familiarize kids with the sound of the smoke alarm. Talk about what to do if clothes catch fire and show them how to stop, drop, and roll. Set up a practice fire drill during the day to see how your kids react and how well they follow the evacuation plan. Of course, remind them that playing with matches or lighters is wrong, and that they should immediately tell an adult if they find any.

Finally, make sure you yourself understand the safety information before you talk to your kids. Practice what you preach. You are your kids' role model, after all.