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Safety Rules to Teach Non-Reading Children

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Your child’s safety is important to you, and as her parent, you are responsible for communicating safety rules to her. You may find it challenging to teach your child rules that she will understand if she can’t read. Fortunately, the rules that a young, pre-literate child needs to know are simple and can be easily communicated through pictorial reminders.

Obedience

Your primary safety rule is “Obey Mommy and Daddy always.” If your child gets into the habit of obeying whatever you say, you may be able to intervene when your child is about to do something unsafe. Your child can’t remember a rule for every conceivable safety issue, but she can remember to instinctively obey you when you give a command.

Don't Touch

Young children like to touch things to learn about them, and sometimes those things can cause harm. Teach your child to avoid fire, the stove and other hot objects, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. You may also want him to leave breakable items alone. While removing these things helps, according to KeepKidsHealthy.com, teach your child not to touch fragile items. Say, “You may touch your things, but leave things that don’t belong to you alone.” You could add, “Furniture isn’t for climbing. Keep your feet on the floor.”

Not in Your Mouth

Your child can’t read labels, so she doesn’t know which substances are safe or unsafe to consume. Parents should store cleaning solutions, chemicals and medications in a safe place that is inaccessible to children, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Teach your child toxic symbols such as the skull and crossed bones or the “yuck” face. Teach your child to eat or drink only things you or another trusted adult provides. A pictorial representation could be her face with her hand over her mouth.

Strangers

Parents should teach young children not to speak to strangers, according to KeepKidsHealthy.com. Young children often don’t understand the concept of stranger, and may consider anyone you speak with a friend, even if the person you are talking to is a stranger at the grocery check out or an adult at the park. It could help if you state this rule as a positive -- “Only talk to family, your teacher and friends if I’m not with you.” You could add, “You can only accept food or a gift if I’m there to say it’s OK to do that.” A pictorial reminder could display an adult and a child standing a little distance away with an “x” across the child’s mouth.

Outdoor Safety

Monitor your child when she is outside, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, ABC Parenting. The street can be a dangerous place for a young child, especially if the child darts out from between parked cars or rolls out into the street on his bike. Remind your child to stay away from the street and only cross at the crosswalks while holding your hand or the hand of an adult you designate. You could say, “Come and get me or Dad to get a toy if it rolls into the street.” Create a pictorial reminder using an adult holding a child's hand crossing inside the white lines.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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