Teaching road safety
ROAD safety with young children is an important issue, and one many parents struggle to enforce. Unfortunately, this is one of those issues that parents simply can’t afford to be lax on. It is very important that children learn from day one the habit of practising street and sidewalk safety. By applying the use of your child’s dominant sense, you can make the lesson easier for them to assimilate and learn.
Tactile children will appreciate the concept of physical danger. You can say: “If you run across the road without an adult, you may get hit by a car and won’t be able to play soccer,” and your tactile child will understand. It is important to relate the consequences to something that the child physically likes to do. Tactile children also respond well to rules.
“The rule is that you wait for mummy to hold your hand, before you cross the road.”
Keep your reminders basic and directive, such as clearly saying: “Hold my hand.”
This will be more effective than explanations, which tend to turn the tactile child’s listening off. Continuously practise the physical aspects of safety – looking both ways before you cross, waiting for the green “Walk” signal, holding hands – than using words alone.
Auditory children will respond to verbal explanations. Frame the consequences in the version of a story, and be patient in answering their many questions. Use verbal praise when they follow the rules, and a simple change of tone to the voice when they don’t. Tone is important with auditory children. Often parents will, unwittingly, send mixed signals by saying something with the wrong tone. For example, explaining the consequences of crossing the road without an adult – in a soft sweetheart type of voice – will convey the wrong message.
Make sure you use an uncompromising tone when explaining the rules, and try to keep small talk to a minimum when crossing, so as not to distract from the impor- tance of the task at hand.
Visual children will need your facial expressions to match the consequences of what you’re saying. Look stern when talking about the consequences of not following the rules about crossing the street. Have your child sit in your car and see that it is impossible for a driver of a vehicle to see someone small in front of the car. This demonstrates how a driver might be able to see a mummy, but not a child.
If your child is particularly resistant to your rules, start with mild pictures of consequences. Make sure you lead by example; let them always see you following road safety. Use star/reward charts when they do things well, and be sure to gush to friends and family when they begin to follow the rules.
Taste and smell children are usually pretty timid with traffic and prefer to hold mum’s hand at any time. However, they tend to run out if following a friend, or when seeing a friend across the road.
Fortunately, they are easily influenced by a parent’s disapproval. Let your child see how upset you would be, even at the thought of them crossing the road unaccompanied – it will make a strong impression, and she will tend to follow course.
If particularly resistant, ask your child to hold your hand, and help you cross the road, rather than the other way round. They will feel that this is something they are doing to help you, not something only little kids do.
Don’t be afraid to be uncompromising with road safety. From the beginning, teach them to look both ways – even right-leftright – before crossing. Make them wait for an adult and hold hands when crossing a road, even at marked crossings. Ensure they always cross at the appropriate place, wait at lights, crossings, corners, etc, even if running late.
Road safety is a life and death situation and one not to be take lightly. Be consistent and firm, and don’t be afraid to discipline if need be. – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services