After losing our beloved pet Rowdy in the street right in front of our front door and then moving across country and into a very urban area, street safety has become paramount and an incredibly important part of educating our children. Teaching road safety to toddlers and preschoolers helps them learn to be more aware and equips them with basic safety knowledge and practical life understanding of the rules of the road, but sometimes it’s hard to be a peaceful parent when it comes to kids potentially darting into the street.
As parents, we all know that accidents can happen. After losing our beloved pet Rowdy in the street right in front of our front door and then moving across country and into a very urban area, road safety has become paramount and an incredibly important part of educating our children. And being prepared even for worst case scenarios is a part of equipping our family
9 Rules of the Road to teach Children
Look both ways before crossing the street.
It’s the most basic of all road rules, but arguably the most important. Instilling in children that they must always have eyes on the road makes them aware and encourages safety. We have taught our toddler that she is always to look both ways even on one-way streets.
You must hold hands in the parking lot and when crossing the street.
At any given moment a child can fall. And thisMy daughter likes to tell me that she is holding her own hand, so we actually hand to change this rule to “you must be holding hands with an adult”.
Never chase anything into the street.
Ironically, the day I taught my daughter about not following toys and balls into the road, we got home from a day out to find her bounder ball had rolled into the neighbor’s yard across the street. It became even more real for me to instill a “never chase” mindset in her.
Never follow someone out of the house without their knowledge.
This one scares me. It really does. The idea that a child could follow me outside after I get into the car and they could get hit without me ever knowing in the moment. Backovers are real and they are something I want my child to know is something to be careful of. So it’s a rule in our home that is stressed a LOT and in my opinion, is often not taught to children enough. We also have a rule that our daughter is to stay on our front patio and never even go down the steps of be on the sidewalk by herself.
Walk on the inside (away from the street) of the adult walking with you.
Have children learn to scoot as far away from the street as possible and stay protected by the adult.
If there is no sidewalk, walk on the LEFT side of the street.
Even many adults I know, do not realize that you’re supposed to walk on the left side of the street, opposite the direction of cars. This is so you can see the cars that are approaching while walking.
Be extra careful at night.
Always use crosswalks, crossing signals, and wear bright clothing and maybe even reflectors when walking in the evening and as the sun is going down. When it’s completely dar, never leave home without reflective clothing of some sort.
Look for the white lines to walk in the crosswalk
I try to teach my daughter to look for the white lines that indicate a cross walk. That she is to either walk on or between those lines after we check both ways for traffic.
Learn what the crosswalk signs mean.
One problem with teaching road safety to children, especially toddlers, is that the bright red or orange hand in the cross walk means “stop” or “don’t walk”. Many times this leads to kids wanting to stop in the middle of the crosswalk. It’s important to teach “don’t walk”, “don’t start walking”, and “walk”. This helps alleviate confusion between a solid hand, flashing hand, and walking person.
What we can do as parents to teach our children about road safety
Creating a tot school or preschool learning unit all about road safety is a great start, because learning about how to be safe around cars and in the street doesn’t have to take place around them. Buy or borrow a play set of street signs, cars, and make a little road. Explain the important parts of what it means to be street safe. And even hang a sign by the door of the three basic rules around the street. (Print the sign below if you would like!)
Stay consistent. Once we teach our children the rules of the road, it’s important that we always follow those rules. If there is an instance when it’s not possible, find an acceptable alternative. For instance, just this past week, I had my hands completely full walking through a parking lot. I had my daughter hold on to my skirt and walk by my hip the entire time as an easy alternative.
Consider adding supplemental insurance. Teaching our children safe practices is critical, but accidents can happen. As parents, we can help make sure our children are protected in case they need emergency care. Because over 60% of households don’t have cash to cover unexpected emergencies, Aflac can help provide out of pocket expenses in case something does happen. Find more on accident related policies here.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!