Instead of saying, “Be careful” to your kids, try this instead

Toddler boy on slippery dip at playground

I have two boys. One is super cautious – he will slow himself down using his feet for breaks on the slippery slide. But his brother? Well, he is the complete opposite. He’s my little adrenaline junkie. He, on the other hand, will sit ON TOP of his dump truck while flying down the same slippery slide at the speed of light. Shudder.

Needless to  say I am constantly shrieking at him, “Be careful!” while my heart skips a beat. 

But I’ve come to realise that these words don’t mean much to my little daredevil. I need him to think for himself more and to SEE the danger.

As such, here are some things I’ve been saying to him instead of ‘Be careful”. And I’m pleased to report that we are experiencing a breakthrough. He enjoys our little game of ‘Let’s think this through for a moment’.

If you also have a child like mine, try saying these things instead to teach him some risk assessment early:

kids on scooters

Foster awareness

Help your child become more aware of his surroundings by encouraging him to think for himself. For example, you could say:

  • Notice how? – “Notice what a big drop that is? Notice how far down it is to the bottom? What would happen if you were to fall, do you think?”
  • Do you see? – “Do you see the green moss on those rocks. Moss is slippery. What do you think would happen if you ran over those green slippery rocks?”
  • Can you hear? – “Can you hear the noise of the cars on the road? The engine starting up in that driveway?” 
  • Do you feel? – “Do you feel the heat of the fire?” “Do you feel the way the rock wobbles when you stand on it?”
  • Are you feeling … ? – “Are you feeling scared/ excited/ safe?”

Read more about language choices:

Help your child to problem solve

The next step is to encourage your little one to problem solve for himself. For example you could ask him:

  • What’s your plan? – “How are you going to climb that rock without falling?”
  • What can you use? – “What can you hang onto to get across?”
  • Where will you? – “Where is a good safe place to play that game/ dig that hole/ go climbing?”
  • How will you? – “Get down from there/ get across/ climb that?”
  • Who will? – “Who will be with you? Who will help you if you start to fall?”

While my youngest will always be my more adventurous child, by teaching him to be more aware and to anticipate challenges  himself, I’m hoping that we won’t have as many trips to the hospital plaster room as he grows up. We can but hope!

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