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The impulsive toddler and crossing the road

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
The impulsive toddler and crossing the road

Whenever I host Taming your Toddler seminars lots of interesting topics get raised! Recently we had a very interesting discussion on what to do about safety issues when out and about.

Did you know that danger is a topic most kids don't understand until 3 years old?

Until the age of 10 or so, children need active adult supervision to help them navigate cars, roads and car parks safely. Even children who seem to know all the road safety rules won’t necessarily remember to follow them.

So how do you teach about not running into the road?

Well, it's hard and we see adults crossing roads really badly all the time! Just today I had a lady run out in front of my car. She ran from in between parked cars and didn't look. How I missed her I don't know! My heart was in my mouth :-( Thank goodness I was going slow.

The toddler rein is back in vogue for the young toddler and I'm all in favour

We've sanitised them a bit in attaching them to a backpack that the child wears, but it's the same sort of thing that was out in the 70s and 80s when children wore them as a harness or around their wrists.

I think it's a lot easier to contain them in these and keep them safe.

To encourage compliance with the harness labelled praise will help e.g. "Jamie I love how you're walking so nicely in your harness. It makes mummy happy that you're safe on the footpath."

Children are in most danger around driveways and just leaving the house. They get very excited and are at their most impulsive.

So what else can you do as a parent to keep them safe?

    • Model good road safety and crossing behaviours. Children are like sponges, they soak up everything you say and do. So don't set a bad example by crossing roads unsafely. Crossroads following the road safety rules. Tell them about the green man and the zebra crossing and how it all works. But most of all model good road safety behaviours.

    • Make sure your front gate is closed and has a safety latch. Fence off the house and driveway.

    • When reversing out of the driveway make sure you know where your child is at all times.

    • Make sure your child holds your hand when crossing the road. These are the rules for being out and about with you. Praise them when they comply by using labelled praise,"Well done Jamie for holding mummy's hand when you crossed the road."

    • Always use the kerbside, rear passenger door when putting your child in his car seat/child restraint. This way, your child will get used to always getting in and out of the car through the safest door – the one furthest away from traffic.

    • If you have a baby and a toddler, keep your toddler safe inside the car while you first deal with the baby. Once out, hold hands with your child and together work out where cars could come from before you walk away from the car. When you go back to your car, help your toddler at first, because your baby’s less likely to move out of sight.

    • Start introducing your child to road safety from a young age (2 years plus) so they get used to the concept. Comment on safety issues as you do your daily walk in the stroller together.

  • Don't allow them to cross roads by themselves until they have demonstrated to you that they understand and can comply with road safety rules.

What can you do if your child breaks the rules and runs across a road without your consent

    • Using the 'I' word is very powerful and makes it personal. Tell your child, "When you ran across the road like that I was very frightened" and demonstrate the fear that you felt. That is more likely to hit home than shouting or anything else. 

    • Remind him of the rules, "Next time you need to cross the road mummy wants you to hold her hand and we look both ways to make sure there is no traffic/cars and it is safe to cross". Get compliance before the event by saying, " OK" and getting an "OK" back.

They're never too young to learn about road safety. make it part of what you do with your toddler every time you leave the house. Eventually, those little sponges will soak all the safety info and you've done a great job as a parent teaching them about road safety and keeping them safe.

Well done you :-)

Some more helpful links and reading

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