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3–4 Years : Your Toddler’s Wider World (part 2) - Keeping your Child Safe

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Keeping your Child Safe

Now that your toddler is on the move and can speak for herself, she is more independent and potentially more vulnerable. Begin to teach her about safety issues in the home and elsewhere, but emphasize the need for awareness rather than increasing fears.

“Be prepared for accidents. Stay calm, make sure you have a well-stocked first-aid kit, and keep the phone numbers for your doctor and the emergency unit keyed into your phone.”

All parents worry about their child’s safety. It is a natural instinct and a healthy one. However, as your child gets older, she will be safer if you introduce her to dangers and teach her how to avoid them than if you try to protect her from any exposure at all. Toddlers will not fully understand the concept of danger yet because they have not encountered very much. Keep your explanations about potential threats as simple and unemotional as possible. Explain to her that the word “danger” means that something is especially threatening and could cause her “big hurt.” As a general rule, think about your home and everyday environment from your child’s point of view. If something looks loose, frayed, sharp, poisonous, or hazardous the chances are your toddler will find it at some point. Water, electricity, household chemicals, and roads are especially dangerous. Make sure to lock or tidy away anything that might pose a danger and “think toddler” at all times.

Internet safety

Choose from the wide range of products that make the Internet safe and protect children from disturbing sites and images.

On the move

We live in a world where vehicles move faster and are quieter than ever before. It is therefore essential that your toddler understands that streets and vehicles are dangerous. She must always “stop, look, and listen” and respect that if you say “stop and wait”, it is an instruction that must be obeyed. No matter how pushed you are for time, make sure that your toddler is fully belted up in her car seat or stroller before you leave the house. Explain to her that it is to keep her safe. Encourage her to look left and right before crossing the street, and get her used to pushing the buttons at pedestrian crossings. Ask her to tell you when she thinks it is safe to cross and praise her when she gets it right.

Children on tricycles need to wear helmets and they are so close to the ground that they are invisible to motorists. Allow them to pedal in an enclosed park or other space and never on, or near, a main road.

Stranger danger

It is a sad fact of life that there is a small percentage of people in our society who pose a threat to children. Statistically the threat is extremely small, but emotionally it is likely to be a major concern.

To keep your child completely safe you would need to be with her every minute of the day. This will become increasingly impossible as she gets older and is not a healthy way forward if she is to become independent. Teaching her to be wary of strangers without being scared of new people is a fine balance, but the traditional rules still apply. “Never accept candy or other gifts from someone you don’t know.” “Don’t get into a car without me.” “If someone scares you, it’s okay to tell.”

Toddler-proofing—at home and away

It takes planning to keep your home a safe place for your young child.

  • DO tell her that lots of things can be hot or dangerous, even if they look safe.

  • DO put safety latches on cupboards and doors.

  • DO add childproof covers to electrical sockets and tuck away any electrical wires.

  • DO put childproof gates at the top and bottom of stairs.

  • DO keep household cleaners, medicines, paints, and other poisons well out of your child’s reach.

  • DO clear away uneaten pet food and other foodstuffs.

  • DO keep your floors clean and free of dust and debris.

  • DO turn saucepan handles away from the reach of small fingers.

  • DO keep your child away from hot ovens and hot plates.

  • DON’T leave hard foodstuffs and small items such as nuts, buttons, pens, matches, keys, and lighters in easy reach.

  • DON’T leave your child unattended in a room where there may be hazards.

  • DON’T carry or place hot foods or liquids near your child.

  • DON’T leave your child on her own in a bath or anywhere near water.

  • Managing young toddlers in new or unfamiliar situations where there are possible hazards or dangers can be very challenging.

  • DO rehearse your child. Ask her, “What did we say we must be careful about?” Possible answers include: busy streets, cars, the water, strangers, and getting lost.

  • DO tell your child not to say “hello” or go up to people she doesn’t know.

  • DO encourage her to “Wait for Mommy or Daddy” or to hold your hand.

  • DO teach her to ask for help if she is lost.

  • DON’T leave her in the car with the engine running.

  • DON’T leave your child unattended in a new situation.

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