Childproofing your house is one way to protect your children from the everyday dangers that exist in the home, but educating them about those dangers is by far the best way to keep them safe.
If a child knows not to light matches, go near a hot stove or swallow potentially poisonous substances, then they are much less likely to injure themselves or cause an accident that requires claiming on your home insurance.
Naturally, what you can teach them will depend on their age and comprehension level, but even very young children can be made to grasp the concepts of ‘hot’ and ‘yucky’ if they are taught them in the correct way.
Below are some tips that may help get the safety message across:
Demonstrate the Danger
When you light a candle, for instance, wave your hand over the top and say ‘hot!’, then pull your hand away quickly. Repeating such actions will soon show even the youngest toddler that fire is hot and not a pleasant experience.
Make it a Game
Every child loves playing games, so make their learning experience fun. Turn it into a quiz show, a memory game, charades, role playing or a treasure hunt. They will be more likely to absorb what you are trying to teach them, without feeling any pressure if they make a mistake.
Have a Family Plan
Having a family plan of what to do if there is a fire, burglary or medical emergency will help your child to respond appropriately if a real emergency occurs. As you have practised your plan together, they will be more likely to remain calm and do what they are supposed to do (e.g. go to a designated safe place, dial 000 etc).
Use Available Resources
Read books with them about firemen and policemen. Give them role models who impart safety messages. Watch cartoons and videos on the subject together and look for suitable websites where they can take part in interactive games and activities.
Rather than just saying ‘no’ or ‘bad’ (which can sometimes make a child more determined to test boundaries), explain why they shouldn’t drink this or touch that. ‘It will make you feel yucky’ will have more of an impact than telling them it’s dangerous or resorting to ‘Because I said so!’
Incorporate home safety into the rules of the household. Every child knows there are certain family rules that must be adhered to, such as bedtime and eating their vegetables. They know if those rules are broken, there will be consequences (i.e. no dessert), so, make it the same for household dangers. With poisons, make it the rule that they aren’t allowed to eat or drink anything without an adult’s permission. With fire safety, make it the rule that only adults are allowed to use matches. With water safety, they can only swim in the pool if there is an adult present and so on.
While a house insurance policy will protect your house, the best policy to protect your children is to educate them on the everyday dangers that surround them in the home.
By communicating with them on their own level and making the learning experience enjoyable, you stand a much better chance of getting through to them and making the message stick.