Make sure that your child knows the rules of playground safety.

Safety Questions for Kids

by Erica Loop

If your child has no problem holding your hand when crossing the street, keeping away from those super-sparkly looking kitchen cleaners and never would even consider talking to a stranger, then she's most likely caught up on her safety lessons. While this is the ideal, more children than not fall short of this lofty description. Instead of lecturing your 4-year-old on safety issues, ask her questions that will get her thinking.

1. In-Home Safety

Just because your little one is in the confines of your family's home doesn't mean that he is always safe. While you might keep your home as hazard-free as possible -- installing safety latches on cabinets and locking up all of the cleaning chemicals -- a safety question and answer session can help your child to develop a more in-depth understanding of indoor safety. Start with a checklist of home safety issues that includes points such as sharp items in the kitchen, heated appliances in the bathroom such as your flat iron, slippery areas such as the tub, cleaning product storage, tipping furniture and sharp or hard corners on tables. Turn your list into safety questions that are easy for your child to follow. Ask him, "What should you do if you want a book that is on the top of the high living room shelf?" If he doesn't answer with, "Ask you or Dad to get it for me" or says, "I climb up the shelf to the top," take a break to correct him.

2. Outdoor Safety

Your backyard might have a high fence that corrals the kids, but that doesn't mean there aren't safety issues that your child needs to know about. Use the same process as you did when brainstorming indoor safety questions, and create an outdoor or backyard checklist. Include items such as natural obstacles like roots and rocks, swing set and climber safety, sidewalks and hard surfaces, outdoor toys, pools, non-pool water sources and backyard borders. While you should never allow your young child outside without adequate supervision, ask her an array of safety questions that cover your yard's specifics. If you have a sand box in the yard ask her, "Do we eat the sand?" If she is struggling to answer your questions, take a trip outside and do your Q&A in the great outdoors.

3. Stranger Danger

While you might think that your preschooler understands that he should never talk to a stranger, that might not stop him from gleefully taking a handful of candy from a grandfatherly looking man at the mall. Instead of scaring your little learner when it comes to the dangers that strangers present, try a question and answer session that will help you assess what your child knows and help him to understand the basics. Ask your child what he would say to an adult who tells him, "Your mom said to get in my car" or what he would do if you are late to pick him up from pee-wee soccer practice and an adult that he doesn't know says that she will drive him home.

4. Sports and Recreation Safety

Whether your child can't get enough of her tricycle or enjoys a game of neighborhood T-ball, making sure that she knows sports safety rules can make the difference between a fun-filled day and a trip to the ER. Use sports-themed questions to gauge what she knows and to help her understand what you expect of her behaviors and actions. This also includes recreational activities such as a day out at your local playground. When you get to the playground, ask your child about the acceptable ways to go down the slide. If she answers anything other than sitting up with her feet first, make sure that she understands that she is never allowed to go down head first or run down the slide on her feet.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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