If you’ve got a young toddler in the family, you’ll know how curious they can be about the world around them and it’s not always easy to keep them by your side.
It only takes a second for a child to tug free and dash into the road so it’s super important for parents to teach kids the importance of road safety and help them embrace their newfound independence while making sure they stay safe.
Today we’ve been chatting with parenting pro, Zena Goldman, founder of family and lifestyle blog, Zena’s Suitcase, to get her top tips on how to teach toddlers about road safety.
“Zena’s Suitcase is a blog devoted to life with babies, toddlers and teens. I promote an active and varied family life amidst an age of technology and gadgets and share my thoughts on issues that affect modern parents today.”
Six Tips For Teaching Your Toddler Road Safety
Helping toddlers and preschoolers understand road safety can be a real challenge, but it’s important to start teaching them how to keep themselves safe from the point that they are able to understand.
Small children have no sense of fear or consequences and as parents it’s our role to help them to understand the dangers of traffic and roads in a calm and measured way.
My daughter can sometimes be really sensible, but other times she loses concentration and becomes so overwhelmed by other emotions that she forgets about keeping herself safe. As it’s been quite a challenge for us, I’ve come up with some top tips to help your toddler understand about what’s going on when they are around traffic.
1. Role Play…
This is such a great way for children to learn about the world around them, in a safe and fun way. Learning about the road and how to behave around traffic is perfect for role play. By using toy cars and people you can explain to your child about cars moving on roads and people using pavements and how this keeps everyone safe.
Keep your focus positive, and talk about cars going faster on roads than people walking and demonstrate this with the toys you’re using. Use examples like cars stopping at crossings to allow the people across them.
2. Out & About…
Keep talking to your toddler about how to behave around traffic and how important it is to concentrate, even if you use reins or while they are still in a pushchair. Help them make the connection about their learning at home with role play and the real world.
Talk to them about crossing the road safely, and how to use pedestrian crossings and how staying close to Mummy, Daddy or another adult or carer will help keep them safe. Test their learning and ask them if they know what to do to cross the road when you get to the lights, children always enjoy showing you they are learning and love praise.
Don’t just keep this to when you are walking. If you drive, talk to your child about being in the car and using traffic lights. Point out people crossing the road when it’s safe to do so.
3. Using Reins…
These are a great training aid, and can keep a child safe whilst encouraging independence. It is down to each parent and child when its the right time to lose the pushchair and start with walking more. If your child is very young when this happens, it is still important to talk to them about road safety. They will still take it in, especially if you make it fun.
If you child is very unpredictable when out walking, getting them used to reins is a very good idea. Choosing a fun design from the Trunki Toddlepak range will help your child. What toddler doesn’t love to be a monkey or a lion? My daughter loved being a dinosaur, and she soon fell in love love with her new safety accessory.
4. Praise Good Behaviour…
Do not forget to let them know when they are doing well and getting it right. You can use a sticker chart, or maybe treats if you like. I found my daughter would lose concentration after going to her gymnastics class, and we have a busy car park to walk through with school, leisure centre and construction traffic all in the same place. I would take her favourite snacks with me and say she could have them once she had got to the car safely, which worked a treat (pardon the awful pun!).
5. Be Reflective…
Make sure your child can be seen by any road users, and explain to them why this keeps them safe. The Toddlepak reins are bright and reflective, to help road users can see your child.
Avoid dark clothing and jackets, make sure they are easily visible especially in the winter months. Children are generally harder for drivers to see as they are smaller so it’s important to make them easy to see at all times.
6. Be A Good Example…
As all us parents know, the best way to teach your child anything is to set a good example. This will help them develop safe habits now and as they grow up. Remember not to use your mobile phone or headphones when you’re crossing roads or walking through car parks. Don’t run when crossing the road, and use the appropriate crossings. If you have any bad habits, ditch them and help your child to understand road safety from the start.