Children usually do not have the exact same ability as adults to judge speed, distances and directions of traffic. This is why they need proper 'education' in terms of road etiquette and how to stay safe while out on the street. After all, if one is not careful enough and does the best to protect himself/herself, nobody else will. This is how to teach your child about basic road safety and avoid the restless hours when the kids are away on their own – coming home from or going to school, or simply playing in the street with friends.
For young children:
Start your 'road safety' classes at home. Explain what dangers the streets hold. Tell your children about the fast moving cars and how sometimes it is very hard for a driver to see a child and how off-limits streets are. Repetition is crucial to success. Each trip outside should be turned into a traffic lesson. However, never leave you child unattended when doing these lessons. First of all, s/he needs to know all the safety precautions first, before walking around alone.
When children grow older
Try to teach the traffic safety rules through games. Use your imagination and bear in mind that young age learn best when turning lessons into games. However, give it time. And mention the 'look both ways' rule as often as possible. As you cross the street on your way from or to the grocery store, you can assign your child to be the 'lookout' and to say whether it is safe to cross. This will give him/her a general idea on how things are done. Still, never let go of each other's hands and cross whenever you feel it is safe to do so.
Explain how the traffic light can be used as an aid and is there only to help us and we should do nothing less than obeying these signals. However, don't forget mentioning that some unreasonable drivers don't adhere to the lights. That is why, looking in both directions, regardless of what color the traffic light is, is vital. And don' forget to mention about the perils of jaywalking.
Most of the traffic accidents occur when children are carelessly playing on the sidewalk. Usually, if, during play, the ball, or some other toy ends up on the street where the cars pass, a child would dash to retrieve the toy. Teach your kids that this is not the proper thing to do, but to rather wait for an older sibling or an adult to help them out.
Walking to school
Walking to school can be a great exercise for the young ones. Plus, a vehicle less means less dirty fumes in the air. And is also the surest way to make your child feel confident. However, this is a major threat, especially if the school is not too close to your home. Make the first couple of trips to the school and back together. Choose the easiest and safest route possible. And advise your child never to deviate from it. Escort your child to school as many times as needed, until finally s/he has mastered the route. If possible, find your child companions to go to school with, preferably, older children and such that you know personally. It would be even better if they live close to your house.
Implement your child's clothes with one or two safety reflectors. These little items are sure to warn drivers that there is someone on the road. They are especially helpful on a sunny day or when cars use their lights. Put at least one on your kid's backpack as well. When it comes to protecting your child from the perils of the road, one can never take enough precautions.
Sarah Henderson writes about road safety and believes there should be more done to make children and cyclists on the road more safe, to see one of Sarah's favorite blog publications, click here.
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