You’re a good parent. You would do anything for your children and you are doing your best to teach them right from wrong. You have covered all the bases, or so you think.
But, let’s face it, life with kids is hectic and crazy, and it’s impossible to keep a watchful eye on them 24/7. It’s Child Safety Month, so what better time to go over some precautions that we should take when out in public?
It’s easy to get distracted — just for a second — while chatting with other parents at the park, and unfortunately, that’s all the time it can take to endanger the well-being of your child. Follow these guidelines to keep your children safe and happy at the park or on the street, and go over them with your child to make sure he or she is safe when under the care of other adults.
Never Run Ahead out of Sight
It is tempting to let your older children experience independence — just don’t let that translate into your child disappearing from your sight. Whether you are at the park or walking down the street, always keep an eye on your kids, and let them know that it’s not OK to run too far ahead. They should always be within sight; if they can’t see you, they’ve gone too far and should know to stop and wait for you to catch up.
Do Not Let Your Children Approach an Adult They Do Not Know
It seems like it should go without saying: keep your kids away from strangers. But sometimes, we let our guards down when those strangers have kids, pets or just seem very friendly. There should be no reason why your child needs to approach another adult without you by their side.
Also teach your kids the importance of never talking to adult strangers when in the care of others at the playground or crossing the street after school.
Never Approach a Pet without Asking the Owner
That dog may seem friendly and harmless enough for your kids to pet, but dogs are like people: they require personal space. Dogs speak differently than humans and you may not appreciate the way someone’s pet tells you to stay away. Always ask the owner first whether it’s OK for you or your child to approach or touch her pet, and teach your children to do the same.
Do Not Pick up Random Items off the Ground
Kids are naturally curious. Young children experience new things by picking them up and feeling the objects in their hands. And while teaching children to help clean up the park by picking up trash or recyclable objects is recommended and commendable, check out the objects to be sure they will not harm your child. Always have them wear gloves if you are intentionally cleaning up the park.
Do Not Approach a Stranger’s Car
Even if the vehicle seems empty, teach your child never to go up to an unknown car. Not everything has to mean there is someone evil lurking, but the individual inside the car may not be too happy with peering eyes. The car could start up at any moment, or suddenly shift into gear. If the car is empty, the alarm may be set or you could simply have an angry car owner approaching as your child is looking inside or leaning on the car.
Do Not Share Food with Others
Teaching your children to share is honorable. But do not let them share food with another child unless it has been approved by you and the other child’s parents. There are far too many food allergies to risk another child getting sick or worse. Likewise, unless you have approved it, don’t let your kids accept food from anyone else.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
When you are at the park or walking down the street, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Both you and your children should pay attention to the other people in the park, or notice the types of buildings you are passing on the street. It is easier to stay safe when you know what is going on around you.
Be Respectful of Those around You
After you have instilled the dangers of strangers, make sure your children understand how to respect those same strangers. Saying “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me” when appropriate goes a long way in treating others well. Good manners at the park or on the street do not need to be lacking when you are out and about.
Hold Hands When Crossing the Street
Most kids are not thrilled when you want to hold their hand. However, holding your young child’s hand is important in keeping her safe. It obviously does not make much sense if your kids are playing at the park, but when you are walking along a busy street, it is advisable to hang on to your child. Between strangers rushing by and cars speeding by, crossing the street is made much safer when you have a good grip on your child.
Be Watchful for Moving Vehicles and Bicycles
Let your kids know how to have a healthy respect for moving cars, trucks and everything in between. Learning how to steer clear of automobiles will help keep your kids safe, but don’t forget those bicyclists. Bicycles can reach fast speeds, so let your child know to keep their distance.