Watch your child at all times, as children do not understand danger.
Supervision of your children is key to their safety because:
- Children do not understand danger.
- Children are naturally curious and want to explore the world around them — and remember, the more mobile they get the more adventurous they become!
- Children can wander off in the blink of an eye.
- Everywhere around them, particularly in the comfort of their own homes, there are many dangers — seen and unseen.
- It is our responsibility as parents and guardians to make sure our children’s world is as safe as possible so that their exploration is injury-free and fun.
Active supervision of your children:
- Means you are constantly paying attention (watching, listening) to your children and within reach.
- Gives you every possible chance to reach your child if he/she is attempting to do something that could cause an injury.
- Lets you spend valuable time with them as they explore their world.
- Shows you what they are capable of doing and how mobile they are e.g. how far they can reach, climb etc. This highlights what action you need to take now to help prevent an injury happening.
Supervision is not an isolated activity:
- While supervision is the key message of child safety, it is helped by:
- Knowing what your child is capable of
- Providing a safe space for your children
- Using appropriate toys and play equipment
- Setting safety rules
Know each child’s abilities:
- You can help protect your children from injury when you are aware of what they are capable of.
- So be ready for each developmental stage for instance:
- Before your child starts moving along the floor, make sure all furniture and equipment is secure and cannot be tipped over by your child, remove trailing flexes, make sure fire and spark guards are always correctly used, block access to danger zones, install stairgates and use them correctly.
- Be aware of how far your child can reach up — make sure you move anything risky out of reach — have you your cupboard locks installed? And remember your child might be able to reach something today, he could not yesterday — so always stay one step ahead!
- Know what type of foods your child is capable of eating safely. Develop the routine that your child, at any stage, sits at the table/or strapped into their high chair while eating, and is supervised by a responsible adult.
Provide a “safe space” for your children to live and play in:
- This a done by looking for potential dangers and taking action to sort them out — often called “child proofing”:
- Inside your home — go from room to room — remember to include the halls, stairs and landing.
- Outside your home — front and back — include driveway, gardens, avenue, shed and garage.
- Ask yourself the question in every room/area:
- Is there anything in this space that could be a danger to a child?
- Once you spot the danger areas and items, you can take action to fix them.
Use age and developmentally appropriate toys and activities:
- Make sure toys and play equipment are suitable for your child’s age and developmental stage — is there a younger child in the house who may be at danger if he/she plays with the toy?
- Be aware that older children may share unsuitable toys with younger children.
- Avoid toys with small parts — they are not suitable for younger children.
- Closely supervise children when they are using any type of play equipment, for example in a playground, and do not allow them to play on equipment designed for older children.
- Set clear and simple safety rules that children can understand, for instance,
- “Inside we walk”
- “Our toys stay on the ground when we climb”
- “We put away our toys when finished playing”
- “We climb up the ladder and come down the slide”
- “We always wear our helmet when on our bike or scooter”
Remember though, child safety is the responsibility of adults, not children — so no matter how often you guide your child where safety is concerned, remember that they are not adults and have no understanding or concept of danger.
- Rules are not a replacement for supervision, they are simply a way of teaching children what is safe to do.