If you're a parent, you've almost certainly had a moment where your children did something that scared you witless. Whether you lost them in a store or turned away for two seconds at the park and looked back to see them heading full speed for a busy street, children excel at finding new and creative ways to boost our adrenaline.
One solution is to keep children under lock and key until they are 18 to ensure nothing happens to them. However, that may be a bit unrealistic. But the instinct to protect your young one in any way you can is natural and sensible. The only question is how?
When it comes to road safety, fortunately, there are a few simple ways to make your child safer and add a couple of years back onto your lifespan. After all, safety and stress reduction go hand in hand.
Crossing the Street
It sounds simple enough. Cross the street safely, following pedestrian rules, watching out for traffic, while always looking both ways. But try to get inside the mind of a child for a moment. The objective is over there – a cute dog, a friend from school, an ice cream truck – and they are over here. Children think at the speed of light, so it only makes sense that their thought process looks something like this:
- See things across the street.
- Run to a thing as quickly as possible.
The key is to deprogram this basic behavior set and replace it with a more sensible one. For example:
- See things across the street.
- Ask permission to go over there.
- Cross safely with you to get there.
Explain that you love your child and you want them to be safe. If they want to cross the street, they need to do so the right way or they could be hurt. Making sure they understand why it's important to cross the street safely is the first step.
The Importance of Traffic and Pedestrian Signals
As evidenced by the behavior of many adults, an understanding of traffic signals is hard to instill in a person at a young age. You can do your part to improve society and protect your child by making sure they understand traffic and pedestrian signals.
As part of this approach, always avoid engaging in risky behavior in front of your child. You might sprint across the street to beat the walk timer on your own, but doing so in front of your child could teach them to take risks just to cross the street. Children learn by example, so setting a good one is essential.
Explaining the Danger
Depending on their age, it can be hard for a child to understand the danger vehicles pose to pedestrians. It is essential that you explain the gravity of road safety to them so they know the dire consequences of unsafe behavior. Tell them to be careful near traffic always, even if other kids are behaving recklessly. Hopefully, your child can be a good example to others, but at the very least you can make sure that they know not to follow bad examples.
You want your child to have a healthy respect for the danger posed by a fast-moving vehicle. Explaining how fast and heavy cars are, and how people can be badly hurt by them will ensure that your child understands how important it is to be careful when walking or playing near roads.
Their Safety, Your Peace of Mind
Your first priority is making sure your child is safe. By taking the time to instruct them as to the dangers of roadways, you will also ensure that you can breathe a little easier knowing they understand how to cross the street, play near roads, and respect traffic. Even a short conversation with your child can go a long way toward helping them be safer every day and make you feel less worried, no padded cells required.