Talking to your toddler about street safety
Is Baby fascinated by cars, trucks, and all things that go? They're a little young to fully grasp the rules of the road, but it’s never too early to begin talking to them about street safety. Early knowledge can help raise awareness and reduce the risk of an accident. Here are some ways to start the conversation about staying safe near the street.
- Start with the basics: When you’re out for a walk, or running errands, remind Baby that cars belong on the road and people stay on the sidewalk. Understanding where vehicles and people should be will help them learn not to wander.
- Holding hands: Each time you’re near a road or parking lot, make sure they know they must hold your hand, or the hand of another grown-up. If your hands are full, have them hang onto your shirt or pants at all times.
- Play safely: It’s common for a toddler who doesn’t know any better to want to chase a ball that rolls away, and if they're playing outside, this may mean they'll want to chase it into the street, if that’s where it went. Let them know that when you’re outdoors, it’s important to stop and let an adult retrieve any toys that get away.
- Use simple language: In a way that they can understand, tell Baby each time you’re out how important it is to stop and look both ways before crossing a road, or even through a parking lot. Repeat these steps each time you’re crossing so it becomes automatic.
- Look for crosswalks: Show Baby crosswalks when you’re out and about, and describe what they do, even if you’re not crossing at that moment. Let them know that when you’re crossing, you need to stay inside the special lines in order to be safe.
- Teach about signals: When you’re waiting to cross, press the button for the crosswalk, and show them what each signal means. This will help them understand when it’s safe to go, and can help following road safety rules feel more fun.
- Time it right: It’s no secret that darkness, or inclement weather, can reduce visibility for drivers. When possible, time your errands and other outings during the day, and use extra caution when venturing out in unpleasant weather conditions.
Teaching about street safety early on is an important lesson to ensure children’s safety, and the way in which you explain how to remain safe will change as Baby gets older. For now, start with the basics, using simple language and remaining consistent so they know what to expect when you’re near traffic. Since they follow your lead, remember to be a good role model, abiding by the rules you set forth each time so they know to be consistent.