Many Florida parents are concerned with preventing injuries to children and minors. Serious childhood injuries are the dread of every parent, but childhood injuries continue to be a major cause of emergency room visits each year in Homestead, Hollywood, and Miami. Worse, some childhood injuries – such as Florida burn injuries or brain injuries – result in life-long impairments. Since parents cannot supervise their children around the clock, a major part of parenting involves teaching children basic safety rules. The best way to do this is to:
1) Be specific. Children might not understand what you mean when you say “Don’t play near trucks.” Children need to know exactly what to do and what not to do in various situations. Role playing is a good way to teach children safety rules. For example, practicing a fire escape plan is better than explaining to your child what to do in the event of a fire. Most communities and emergency response departments have educational material for parents and teachers that makes learning safety rules fun.
2) Make and enforce consequences. Children should know that when they break safety rules, they will miss out on special treats or fun. This will help enforce the importance of the rules and will ensure that children are motivated to follow them.
3) Let children make their own safe choices. Getting children involved is a great way to help teach them about safety and is a great way to ensure that they actually follow the rules. For example, bicycle helmets can help protect your child from serious injury in a bicycle accident; let your child select a helmet they actually like and will enjoy wearing. Or, let your child help you come up with fair punishments or consequences if they fail to follow safety rules.
4) Explain the reasons why you have specific rules. Children will respond better to more rules if they understand why those rules are in place. What can seem obvious to parents – not swimming alone can help prevent pool accidents and drowning – may not be clear to a child. Many parents worry about scaring their children, but explaining frankly and calmly why certain rules are in place empower children to make the right decisions.
5) Go over rules regularly and make rules easy to understand. Sometimes, children ignore safety rules because they forget or get too excited about a special event. Even children that have been taught to look both ways before crossing the street, for example, will dart out into traffic if they are following a favorite toy. For a small child, it sometimes seems like there are a lot of safety rules (and there are!). Frequent, gentle review will help make these rules safe habits.
6) Account for peer pressure. Children want to fit in and sometimes peer pressure means they make poor choices. Your teen may know that texting and driving can lead to a car accident, but when friends are present, it can be hard to ignore a ringing cell phone.