It’s a dangerous world out there and as parent’s, we’re neurologically hard-wired to ensure that our kids have the safest, most secure and happiest upbringing we can afford them. This means that we must walk that difficult line. The line between empowering them with awareness, facts and safe ways to navigating the world around them, while also giving them the freedom and autonomy to make mistakes, bump their heads, scrape their knees and shed some tears without becoming the kind of helicopter parent that insulates their kids from those hard but ultimately important lessons.
Road safety is, for obvious reasons, a cause of great concern among parents. We agonize over the right way to teach them to cross the road, we lecture them on the importance of buckling their safety belts, and we entertain nightmare scenarios in which our kids dash unheeding into the road after an errant ball or skateboard. Road safety is never far from our minds, nor should it be. In order for it to be truly effective, road safety should never be a “one and done” exercise. It begins in infancy and keeps going even when they’ve been handed the keys to their own cars. It’s a responsibility you share with your children’s schools, local law enforcement, other road users, and, of course, your kids themselves. Here are just a few of the ways you can help your kids at different ages;
Early years (2-7)
Here your kids will be taught the abiding principles of road safety. They’ll get more and more accustomed to the presence of cars on the road and will start to understand the dangers of automobiles in an abstract way. They’ll also begin to gain an understanding of what it’s like to be a passenger in a car and the etiquette of road safety from the inside. At school, they’ll likely be taught the basic principles of road safety. If homeschooling, make sure you review road safely with your littles. They could be taught safe behaviors on the roadside via cute mascots and poster making which you should often reinforce. Kids learn by repetition and here is where you’ll get to put what they learn in school to practical use. From stop, look, listen and think when crossing the road to holding your hand while close to traffic.
Older childhood (7-11)
Here’s where you’ll start to hand over responsibility for road safety to your child. They will start to discover their own accountability for road safety. Many kids will start riding a bike at this age and it’s here that they’ll start to gain a working awareness of how to conduct themselves on the road. They’ll gain the opportunity to become safe and responsible road users in their own right and it’s your responsibility that they have the infrastructure to do this safely (e.g. wearing a helmet and padding).
Preteens and teens (11-18)
This is where you hand over the reigns. You’ll teach them the other side of road safety and the driver’s responsibility in upholding it. They’ll learn not only how to drive safely on the road but how to spot dangerous road users and respond to them appropriately. They’ll learn what to do in the event of a crash and how certain lawyer services can help them pursue justice when they’ve been injured as a result of others’ carelessness.