Making Safety Fun for Young Children

When my son was about two years old we started running into behavioral problems that also doubled as safety problems. He would run too far ahead of me and pretend not to listen as I was yelling for him to stop, refuse to hold my hand in the parking lot, because somehow as a toddler he knew it wasn’t cool anymore, and let’s not downplay the classic battle of buckling a squirming, reluctant child into their car seat. This is when fun took center stage and helped me keep my little guy safe while we were out.

When they Run

I remember being so excited when my son first started running around, it was fun to chase after him and listen to him laughing. However, I quickly learned that he didn’t understand when it was safe to play this game and when it wasn’t. I would yell and chase after him before he got too far or as he was getting close to the road and he would just laugh, not realizing that this could be dangerous. This is when my sister recommended telling him to sit down instead of saying “stop.” This worked a couple of times until he decided that it was more fun to keep running. So I tried again, this time saying “hop like a frog” or “flap your arms,” etc. This helped him to slow down enough for me to walk up to him, since he would keep running if I chased him, and explain to him that it isn’t safe if he runs into the road or gets too far in front of me.

Parking Lot Helpers

My husband and I like to give our children two or three choices when we are trying to re-direct their behavior. We feel that this helps them to become more decisive and self-assured. So naturally when we found our two year old resisting safety rules in the parking lot we would say “do you want to hold hands or be carried?” Now this was working for us, but it was still a bit of a struggle each time. One day I said “can you hold my hand to keep me safe in the parking lot?” This changed everything. It has been almost two years since I started asking him to keep me safe and he will still eagerly grab onto my hand, often pretending to be his favorite superhero.

Car Seat = Game On

When the whole family is loading into the car we always make it a race. We see if the boy team can buckle up quicker than the girl team. This gets my son excited about buckling up and consequently helps speed up our departure time. We are still trying to figure out how to help our baby buckle up without a struggle, ha-ha, when I figure that one out I’ll let you know.

Ultimately children need to understand the principles behind the rules. It’s great to have fun along the way but also teach them why each safety rule is important.


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