We talk a lot about the importance of establishing routines for our kids. Specifically, we’ve discussed reading, homework, and after school activities. But yesterday I got a call from my eight-year-old grandson telling me that his best friend had fallen off the swing set during recess and had broken his arm. Already knowing that the week of Sept 18th -24th is Child Passenger Safety Week, I decided to suggest one more discussion to have with the kids to ensure safety routines are firmly established in our kids’ daily schedules.
We all know the importance of safety seats for infants and toddlers, but booster sears for primary school aged children are just as important in ensuring their safety (even though they may think they are too old for this). Age specific recommendations from the NHTSA say that when children between the ages of four and seven outgrow a forward-facing seat they should use a booster seat for use with the seat belt and remain in the back seat. They also say that children between ages 8 and 12 will not want to use a booster, but unless the seat belt fits properly, (seat belt lies flat across the upper lap and snuggly across the shoulder and chest,) use of the booster should continue to ensure maximum safety. Also, children should remain riding in the backseat as long as possible.
Accidents on playgrounds are another major area of concern. Rest assured that when the kids are at school adult supervision occurs, but as we all know things happen despite their best efforts. Kids are just not as invincible as they think they are. Encourage your children to use the age-appropriate playground equipment and reinforce the correct playground behavior – take turns, no pushing and wait. If there is a problem outside, find an adult to help.
Kids need the freedom to play and explore. Taking some risks is natural and one of the ways kids learn. But let’s keep them safe by supervising them, and before they take too big a risk, explain the possible consequences of their actions. They may not be interested in listening but you, the parent, as the ultimate teacher, have to get the message across. Once they get it, it’s a win-win for everyone.