By the time your child is about 6, they are ready to head off to school and as they become a bit more independent it's imperative that they have a few skills under their belt to help them stay safe. Knowing these 5 basic safety rules will not only help you feel more comfortable as they go about their daily lives, they'll help them stay safe, which is our ultimate goal as parents, right?
1. Know How and When to Dial 911
When we were kids and we had land lines, we all learned about 911.
Or rather, we learned that UNLESS IT WAS AN EMERGENCY, we were NOT TO DIAL 911. Now that many households no longer have landlines, I think parents forget to teach their children what 911 is or when it's appropriate to dial the number. By the time your child is 6, they should know what 911 is, and have an idea of appropriate emergency scenarios in which to call 911 should the need arise.
2. Know About Street Safety
Children should know basic street safety, including that they should not cross the street without a parent until they are older (experts say about 4th grade). When they do cross the street with supervision, they should know how to do the triple head check, which is to look for traffic three times. Left, right, left. Holding an adult's hand when they cross the street for little ones is best! They should walk on sidewalks, get out of cars near the sidewalk or curb (not the street side), and never run or play near traffic or weave in and out of cars because the cars can't see them!
3. Know Pet Safety
Many children under the age of 7 have not developed a fear of wildlife or domesticated animals. I've seen so many children (mine included) impulsively run up to dogs in the park and on the sidewalk and pet them without asking. By the time your child is 6, they should know that they should NEVER do this.
They should always ask permission of their caregiver AND the pet owner before petting an animal that doesn't belong to them. They should also know that they should not approach, chase, or pick up wildlife including frogs, squirrels, snakes, spiders, birds, etc.
4. Know What to Do If They Get Lost
Your child should know what to do if they get separated from you, their class or group. It happens. They need to have a plan in place so that they do not panic until you get back to them. They should know that they should stay where they are and describe different types of adults that they can turn to for help.
5. Know About Ownership of Their Bodies
Children should know that their bodies are their bodies and that if someone is doing something to their body that they don't like they can say no. They need to know that there are some parts of their body that it is never OK to touch and if that happens they need to tell an adult that they trust.
Knowing these rules will help your child be more independent and safe and are worth the time it takes to teach them!! Here's a great article about teaching your child about stranger danger.