5 ways to teach younger children about safety

transition into school

As parents, we want our child to stay within our safe home nest for as long as possible, usually in fear of the dangers they could be exposed to. However, as your child develops life becomes one big adventure for them. They don’t have any worries, they’re more active, independent, and keen to discover the world around them. This can mean there are a few heart-stopping moments for us.

Children are quite the little explorers, so with a little planning and foresight, you can ensure your child’s potential risks are minimised in both their home and childcare centre surroundings.

As parents and as educators, it is our responsibility to teach young children about safety and allow them to take safe risks. At Child’s Play ELC, we believe that providing both a safe and nurturing environment and teaching children about safety is very important.

Risk, dangers and young children

As younger children develop their risk perception, adult supervision is key because they are unaware of how dangerous or unsafe a situation might be. However, taking risks is not a bad thing. In fact, it is considered an essential part of growing up by childcare experts like Kathy Walker. By taking risks, your child’s risk perception will be trained and developed to determine risky and unsafe behaviours.

Risk Development

Recent research shows that when children take risks, they learn to test their boundaries, understand their physical capabilities and develop the ability to be somewhat self-sufficient. Safe risk-taking experiences also help your child learn more about themselves and develop emotional coping strategies for the future.

Every child approaches new opportunities differently, so it is important to guide and provide them with age-relevant ways to approach these experiences when they begin to take risks. This method is preferable to letting them learn by chance or be influenced by non-positive role models.

Teaching children about safety

Children should be taught about safety from an early age. From the age of 2, children will begin to follow safety guidelines and rules. However, it shouldn’t be expected that your child will act in a safe and risk-free manner every time they approach a risky situation.

To help teach your child about safety use these tried and true methods:

  • Use fun, interactive and practical activities. Through participation, children learn to be aware of potentially dangerous things and hazards to avoid and gain a healthy respect for safety precautions.
  • Demonstrate safe behaviours. Most children will copy your actions in preference to what you tell them verbally.
  • Repeat safety rules often and be consistent. Explain to your children what you are doing and why you are doing it by using language they can understand and comprehend.
  • Encourage safe play. Teach children how to avoid many injuries, such as those resulting from unexpected falls at the playground.
  • Manage the risk environment of your child but try not to control it. This helps your child explore freely and to practice their personal safety skills with the added benefit of developing their confidence and competence in their abilities.

Minimise risks at home

At home is one of the spaces where your child will feel most comfortable to take risks, so it is important we prepare our home to minimise injuries and falls. The Royal Children’s Hospital estimates up to 60% of injuries in 0-4 years olds happen within the home and can be prevented. Here are a few ways you can minimise dangerous risks at home:

  • Create a stimulating play space. Give them lots of things to do, so children do not go seeking their own stimulation.
  • Supervise them. Supervision is a key precaution to preventing harm however, we know it’s impossible to watch them every second of the day. If your life is a little hectic or you are dealing with more than one child under 5, look for ways to simplify everyday activities like preparing dinner while they are at childcare.
  • Make physical changes to your home. Unfortunately, our homes are designed for adults, but we can make them child-safe with a few key actions.
    • Install gates and door handle covers to prevent your child from entering potentially dangerous areas.
    • Use foam door stoppers, power point covers, and finger protection slips to prevent fingers from getting jammed.
    • Use anti-slip mats in wet areas where your child may fall.
  • It is also recommended that we stay away from button batteries as they are easy for children to swallow and can cause life-threatening injuries if consumed.

Talk to your child about risks.

As your child develops risk perception, it is important that we talk to them about the benefits and consequences of the risk they are taking. At Child’s Play, we recommend talking about risks separate from when they are playing or partaking in risks so that your child understands your concerns. When they are partaking in risks ask them supporting questions such as “What are you doing with the bat?” and provide them with praise when they handle a risk well; “Good hitting the ball with the bat.”

Safety at Child’s Play ELC

The Child’s Play ELC team is passionate about providing your child with a fun, safe learning environment to develop and grow. Teaching your child about safety and risk is an essential element of our programs, and we actively encourage children in our care to try new things, explore, and discover for themselves safely.

We are pleased to be setting benchmarks at both our Tarneit and Torquay centres in all areas of early child education and childcare safety standards.

Torquay currently holds an overall rating of “Meeting” all national quality standards”, with Tarneit holding an “Exceeding” all seven quality areas in the NQS (National Quality Standard) of ACEQUA (Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority). This is a significant achievement as only eight other childcare services in Victoria currently have this rating.

If you would like to know about our approach to safety here at Child’s Play ELC, our team would love to speak with you.