Teaching Road Safety(6 Posts)
I have a 4yr old DS. Looking for advice or aids (books, computer games/programs and educational cartoons all work well for him) on teaching mainly road safety, but also fire safety/level crossings etc. He knows about dialling 999. For other safety I'm mainly relying on practical experience, but the road safety is driving me mad.
Water safety and climbing/the great outdoors have gone fine, he's fairly sensible, because we can let him jump into a lake or have a small fall and find out its a bad idea. Clearly I can't let him have a minor road traffic accident although believe me when I say it is getting tempting!!! He is wilfully stupid around roads if he's in the mood to be, he'll start dancing and then dance into the road when there's a car coming, run across without looking when he knows he shouldn't. Calm explaining and shouting are equally unlikely to have effect. I think it's just one of those things where because he can't understand fully the danger for himself, he thinks we're exaggerating or making it up. Or as he really likes cars he just thinks they can never hurt him. Similar silliness in car parks. I don't want to give him nightmares, but I do want the lesson to sink in before he kills himself.
Road safety has been the single huge glaring exception to my relaxed autonomous-ed approach. I agree with you that as a hazard, traffic is almost unique in that it offers no scope for allowing minor accidents as learning opportunities. What's more, humans can have no instinctive understanding of the dangers of fast-moving vehicles, unlike most other dangers in our environment. Spending so much time very close to cars can make children blase about the risk. Most kids won't have witnessed a serious accident.
We live on a main road. If my child was to walk outdoors at all without being always in a buggy or on reins, she had to be able to stay away from the road. So I went all-out. I have no idea at all whether my approach would work for you: I'm sure it depends on the child's age and temperament. And it's totally unworkable for anyone who has major commitments outside the home. But anyway, here's what I did. There might be aspects of it which would work for you.
I decided what I was comfortable with - exactly how near the road my toddler could go before I felt nervous about her accidentally wandering or falling into the road - and she had to keep that far back from the road. It happened to be about 18 inches. If she went closer than that, I said "STOP!" in my Voice of Doom. If she failed to stop, or went close to the road again soon after, I used the draconian punishment of carrying her home immediately and not letting her walk outside for 24 hours. There weren't really any discussions about it because she was too young to understand. It made quite an impression on her because it was so different from our usual approach.
Also, when she was tiny I never had her walk in the road or car park but always carried her. I wanted her to develop a strong sense of unease about being in a road or car park. When she was bigger, she invariably had to hold my hand when crossing any road or car park, however deserted it might be. I did let her wander freely on the pavement and take her own risks about being bashed by shop doors or being tripped over by busy pedestrians (frail elderly people excepted) so I don't suppose she felt too restricted by the total ban on walking near or in the road.
It only took a couple of weeks for her to get the hang of it when she was tiny. Then there was no trouble until she was four, when she had a brief spell of carelessness. Being brought home abruptly and kept home reminded her of what she had to do.
Pointing out and inspecting roadkill whenever we saw it was a gruesome but effective reminder that cars can be lethal. I used to explain that animals have great difficulty judging exactly how fast a car is going, or understanding that it can kill them, and that humans find this hard to learn too. This was before the days of YouTube, but if I were doing it today I might show her one of those anti-speeding videos showing the force with which a car strikes a dummy. That would certainly have terrified my child. I don't think there's much else about which I ever deliberately frightened her, but this mattered to me.
Free resources to order
I taped a road on our living room floor (and church hall when doing it with Rainbows) and we practised. I asked them to run as fast as the could and stop as soon as I blew a whistle (and then waved a flag) and another adult pointed out where they were and how far they had gone after. They can't stop instantly and a car certainly can't. Police road safety officer also very happy to visit HE group.
Thanks guys definitely some starting points here. In some ways I do wish I'd thought about this properly much earlier - I guess I just thought he'd learn from being with us, but it's a good point that children get so used to traffic that they don't fear it. We normally have to get out of the house for around 3-4hrs daily to stand a chance of the day going well, so I'm not sure we can cope with 'grounding' him :D but I'm going to look out for roadkill (and possibly get some odd looks doing it!!) - that might have some impact. The teddy story on one of those links is alright too - I'll give it a go next time he's in a receptive mood ^^
I just thought, what about looking for one of those children's stories about death and see whether any of them features a pet dying through being knocked over by a car?
Oh, and the excellent CBBC "My Life" series on BBC iPlayer included an episode about several teens with an acquired brain injury who were going through a long and difficult rehabilitation process in hopes of reducing their level of disability. At least one of them had been injured as a result of being hit by a car. This fact was mentioned several times, with a cartoon reenactment of her accident - which seemed to have been caused by her getting distracted or careless and running into the road, IIRC. It's a fascinating series regardless of any message you might be trying to impart.
Hmm I'll have a look at those. I'm glad there's some good stuff on CBBC too - I've had in my head that once they outgrow CBeebies it'll all be Ben 10 and Batman
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