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4 Questions to Teach Our Preschoolers About Safety

by Joe Lawrence | February 17th, 2015 | Preschool, Safety

girl playground (400x400)Safety is first and foremost in my military career. Working on aircraft, there are thousands of ways to get hurt. I was able to carry this over into parenthood and see the potential hazard areas where my children are playing. When they are still little ankle-biters there is no such thing as being too safe; however, it is rather easy to keep that “bubble” around our children as they get older. Is this the best thing?

On the surface, we want to protect them from any potential harm. Sure, I will not let my preschooler go near the road or venture off in a store without me. However, she is at an age where she has to start weighing the risks of her actions.

I apologize upfront as I read a lot of leadership books and other articles written by veterans and it does get annoying hearing all the military references, but I cannot resist today. There is a system we are taught called operational risk management. It is a process that teaches us to weigh the risks against the rewards. We learned a long time ago that the only way to avoid any risk is to do nothing. This is how our children become video game junkies that never leave their rooms.

The whole process is designed to anticipate and manage risk with a plan; accept risk when the benefits outweigh the cost; accept no unnecessary risk; and to make decisions at the right level. Now, most of this is w-a-a-a-y over the mind of a five-year old and even most adults, but I have had success teaching my daughter to plan and make decisions at the right level.

When she is about to do something new, like stand on her swing or climb the big net at the park, I ask her four questions: Could you get hurt? How could you get hurt? What can you do to not get hurt? Is this something you can do without mom or dad right beside you?

For example: standing on the swing. She told me she could get hurt by slipping on the swing and falling. She could make sure her shoes were clean and the swing was not slippery first. Also, I should stand next to her the first time she tries it. You will be amazed at how easy they can work through some of these questions.

Kids need to have fun and take risks. There is nothing wrong with letting them live a little. We as parents just have to make sure they understand the risks and teach them how to make the best choices. They are smart enough to start now, if we give them the chance.

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