Today’s parents are the information generation. Armed with constant internet and social media access, we are never far away from horror stories about the dangers that face today’s kids. And yet, some dangers close to home can fly under our radars.
Did you know that more than five children are killed and 47 seriously injured in driveways each year across Australia? It doesn’t get any closer to home than that. Educating other people who care for your children takes tact and skill. Here’s how you can talk to friends and family about keeping your kids safe.
At home we teach our children to be safe around driveways, but what about when they’re in the care of others? There are visits to Nana’s house, playdates with friends, times when your sibling or friend comes to babysit. And while you know the danger of driveways, you can’t assume everyone else does too.
There are three basic steps to driveway safety:
Supervise – Children should be supervised around driveways by an adult.
Separate – A driveway is like a road, and play areas should be separate from garages and driveways.
See – All cars have blind spots, so drivers should walk around their car before starting it, especially when there could be a young child playing.
It might help to use a real scenario to show how dangerous driveways can be. Find a story in the news about a child who was injured or killed while playing in the driveway (sadly these stories are easy to find), and use that as a platform to begin the discussion of the safety rules your kids need to follow.
This can be a tricky one, particularly if you don’t know the parents well. Because they’re your peers, you could assume they’ve done the same research you have, but you don’t know for sure.
When leaving your child for a playdate, keep instructions simple, and appeal to their sense that we’re all in this together. You could say something like, “If the kids go outside, could you please make sure Eva doesn’t play in the driveway? It’s a rule we’re trying to enforce at home and seeing it followed at other people’s houses will help her understand it’s important.”
After that, no more setting rules. You’ve imparted the most important one, so if your child eats five hotdogs for lunch and sits around watching iPads all day, you’ll have to be OK with that.
With a paid babysitter, laying down the law is easier. The agreement is that you’re paying them to look after your kids, your way. But you should still keep the rules simple, and not too bossy. You want them to babysit again, right?
Friends without kids
If you have child-free friends who agree to look after your kids, consider yourself lucky. But remember that your friends may not be aware of just how quickly your two-year-old can hot-foot it onto the road.
Remember, this person is your friend, and her common sense is probably on par with yours. There’s no need to rattle off every single safety rule. Like with grandparents, citing an actual case will help drive home the danger.
Your older children
It’s not enough to tell adult carers the safety rules and expect them be tirelessly vigilant. Kids both accidentally and deliberately wander into danger all the time, but if they know the rules, they can begin to get better at keeping themselves safe. Even an 18-month-old can be taught that the driveway is dangerous. He might not remember every time, and you might have to tell him every time he goes outside until he’s five, but he’ll remember eventually, and he can implement the rules even when you’re not around.
For more information about driveway safety, visit the NSW Centre for Road Safety.
(This is a sponsored post for Transport for NSW)