Rather than saying, “Be careful” to your kids, try this instead

Posted in Behaviour and Discipline.

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

Needless to say, I am constantly shrieking, “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.

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 them some risk assessment early.

Toddler girl climbing playground equipment - feature

Foster awareness

A great way to help your children become more aware of their surroundings is by encouraging them to think for themselves. 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?”

Help your child to problem solve

The next step is to encourage little ones to problem solve for themselves. For example, you could ask:

  • 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? – “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. Fingers crossed!


Parent School footer dinkusNeed some support to be the best parent you can be? Our Parent School parent coaching experts can help. Click to find out more or book a one-on-one session. 


Get more babyology straight to your inbox