Do you ever worry that you’re wrapping your little ones in cotton wool. Sometimes I think that I’m safeguarding against so much that my little ones would have no idea what to do if there was a real danger.
Although my twins are only three, I’ve decided it time to start talking to them about some of the hazards they may encounter in their everyday lives. Obviously, I need to do this in an age appropriate way and I don’t want to scare them. Before I know it, they will be off to school and I want to do my best to prepare them and keep them safe when I’m not there.
In no particular order, here are seven everyday dangers to talk about
Bonfire night was a great way to start this discussion. Daddy has a garden incinerator which we used as a bonfire and so we had to have clear instructions. I didn’t want to just tell them not to go near it. I wanted them to understand why. With me right beside them, one at a time we got pretty close to feel the heat. I asked what would happen if they touched the fire or the incinerator. They knew it would burn but really they have little concept of this seeing as neither of them have been burnt. I left it as that it would hurt a lot. We have been reiterating this message anytime we are around candles or matches since.
Children’s knives are just not sharp so it’s tricky to explain knife danger to them as this is their main point of reference. Often my girls will lick their knives and when they do I remind them that some knives are sharp and can cut them. Generally this encourages them to just do it more to prove me wrong. Whenever I’m making dinner, my girls are keen to help. I’ve started to let them help me cut with a sharper knife. I’m modelling how to tuck fingers away and hold the vegetables firmly so they don’t slip.
What child doesn’t love calpol? The sticky, sweet syrup and fun syringe make a winning combination. In fact, whenever I’ve tried to give them cough mixture or anything else, they spot it a mile off. “No…the pink medicine!” Recently, my little ones have also taken more notice of when mummy or daddy take pills. Trying to explain to toddlers that something that makes you better can also make you ill isn’t the easiest. For now, I’m telling them that adult medicines are much stronger and everyone has to be careful of how much medicine to take. Even though all medicines are hidden and out of reach, they know never to take medicine without Mummy or Daddy.
4) Road Safety
Since my girls have been out of a pushchair, I’ve become really paranoid about road safety. The thought of them darting into a busy road terrifies me. As much as my girls are generally well behaved, like any other preschooler, they have their moments and it’s then when the worst could happen. Whenever we are out and about, I remind them to walk away from the curb. I’ve also been pointing out dipped curbs to show driveways and explaining cars can come onto the pavement here. At the moment, they understand what the red and green man mean too and I’ve begun to teach them the green cross code.
5) Stranger Danger
I’ve never been a fan of the term ‘stranger danger’. Statistically children are far more likely to be abused by someone they know and so teaching them not to talk to strangers really does very little to prevent danger. In fact, children need to know how to trust their instincts and when necessary talk to strangers for help. At such a young age, this is hard to explain to little ones and something I haven’t attempted yet. I may try asking them about people at the park or in shops to see if they think they should go with them. This will start the conversation and I’ll see where it takes us.
As I’ve written about previously, I feel guilty my girls haven’t had regular swimming lessons but taking twins swimming alone would be too stressful. Luckily they don’t lack water confidence and love the pool and the sea. After watching Frozen recently, Jessica began asking what happened to Ana and Elsa’s Mum and Dad. If you’ve seen the film, you may remember their ship capsizes in a storm. The was a great opportunity to discuss water danger. I explained how people can’t breathe under water and even just a small pond can be dangerous. We’ve had a safety grid fitted to ours and now they understand why. Whenever we do go swimming, I remind them about water safety and explain why they mustn’t run.
Who knew before you had children that you’d be chopping grapes into minute pieces for fear of choking. My girls have started to notice that older children and adult eat whole grapes and have been asking for whole grapes too. At first I was adamant they were too young but in recent months, when they have grapes, the first one I give them is whole. I’ve talked to them about choking and explained that to eat a grape safely, they must bite off half first before putting the rest into their mouth. They do this so carefully and I’m watching like a hawk. My reasoning for doing this is that I want them to know about the danger and not be presented with their first whole grape or similar when I’m not around to ‘coach’ them. After the whole grape the rest are sliced as usual.
All of our conversations have come up quite naturally and by taking their lead or using opportunities as they arise, I find they are listening to my warning and taking what they can at this stage. Each time a new situation presents itself, we can build on what we’ve talked about before and so they aren’t overwhelmed. Hopefully, by knowing some of the everyday dangers that surround them, they are a little safer and what parent wouldn’t want that?