How to Teach Young Children about Household Safety in an Age-Appropriate Way
As a parent or caregiver, the task of keeping your children safe from harm is one that doesn’t end at a particular age. In fact, the role simply evolves right alongside your child. Before talking to your kids about household safety, it’s important to consider their ages and developmental stages. Below are some helpful hints for teaching any child of any age the importance of household safety.
Babies & Toddlers
There’s a great deal of learning and development that goes on in children’s infant and toddler years, so it’s important for parents and caregivers to instill knowledge and safety rules early. Infants simply lack the developmental capability to understand the difference between what’s safe and what isn’t. As such, parents and caregivers are tasked with the responsibility of keeping infants safe by “babyproofing” their environments and keeping close watch over them. Toddlers are far more curious, and they’re starting to develop a sense of understanding (the stove is hot, for example), so start teaching them early about household hazards and install child safety door locks wherever necessary at this age.
By the time children reach school age, including preschool and kindergarten age, they have a much more solid understanding of things in their homes that are not safe for them. They might understand that cleaning products are poisonous even if they smell nice and they should never go outside by themselves. It’s important to reinforce these things through conversation, however, because children of this age are still incredibly inquisitive by their very natures. If you see an opportunity to provide a quick safety lesson, do so – but make sure it’s age-appropriate.
Elementary Aged Children
Between the ages of six and 11 or 12, kids are really taking in the world around them. Not only are they being subjected to societal standards, but they might also be starting to succumb to peer pressure, bullying, friendship woes, and other things that can affect the way they behave at home. This is a great time for parents to discuss safety rules that might apply in the kitchen, such as which appliances can be used (with supervision) and which can’t. It’s also an opportunity to talk about leaving the house alone and revisiting the need for child safety locks on your exterior doors.
Pre-Teens and Teens
With pre-teens and teenagers, things change a great deal. Some children become rebellious at this stage of life and push safety rules; others may feel as if they are being treated unfairly for having such rules imposed on them. At this age, it’s important for parents and caregivers to take their kids’ personalities into consideration and adjust rules on the fly to suit them. Kitchen and bathroom safety, electricity safety, and other issues will be the primary concerns since older kids have outgrown their childproofing and they’re well aware of the main dangers inside their homes.
Regardless of your kids’ ages, it’s important to remember that no two children are the same and they all develop at different rates – even if they are brothers and sisters. Bring up common household dangers with kids at the appropriate ages and stages of development, but when they are still very young, it’s up to you to provide for their safety with the right tools and information.